SBI’s German Bundesliga Preview

Dortmund

By BRYAN ROBISON

Similar to La Liga and Premier League, Bundesliga sees itself going into 2012 with two prime contenders, and then what looks like a strong competition for third place. For the top German league, last year's top two finishers will go into this season expecting to end that way again this year.

Borussia Dortmund, the two-time defending champions, will look to win three consecutive titles for the first time in club history, and become the third franchise in league history to three-peat. Bayern Munich was the last club to do so, winning three consecutive titles in 1998-2001. They will do so without two key members of last year's squad, Shinji Kagawa and Lucas Barrios. While Barrios dealt with injuries and was not the player he was the year before, Kagawa was one of the top players in the league, and was second on the team in goals the last two seasons.

Bayern Munich will look to recover from more than just losses from the roster. After losing the league title to Borussia Dortmund, along with the DFB Pokal Final, Bayern Munich went on to lose the Champions League final against Chelsea to penalty kicks at home in May. They did add a top midfielder in Xherdan Shaqiri from Switzerland to pair with Bastian Schweinsteiger, as well as Euro 2012 standout Mario Mandzukic.

The other two clubs that qualified for the Champions League this season, Schalke 04 and Borussia Mönchengladbach, will be the top competition for third place, along with a surging VfL Wolfsburg squad.

Here is a closer look at the 2012-2013 German Bundesliga season:


THE FAVORITES

Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich

Both teams headed into 2011-2012 as favorites, and they will do the same this season. Borussia Dortmund definitely suffered more regarding departing players, as the aformentioned Kagawa and Barrios are now elsewhere. But they also had the biggest signing of the offseason, signing Marco Reus from Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 23 year old returns to his home club, and will be looked upon to help replace both players.

Bayern Munich will look to take any crown they get, failing to reach the top after getting close three times last year. If a few kicks went their way, this offseason would have had a much different outlook. Regardless, Jupp Heynckes and company look to put a stop to their current string of second place finishes and Borussia Dortmund's streak of consecutive league titles.

THE CONTENDERS

Schalke 04, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, Hannover 96, VfL Wolfsburg

Borussia Mönchengladbach was certainly the most active this offseason, signing multiple players, including former Atletico Madrid defender Alvaro Dominguez, Basel midfielder Granit Xhaka, and FC Twente striker Luuk de Jong. The team has the makings of a serious run at third place, possibly even contending for the title, as long as the newly formed group is able to play together.

Schalke 04 has been all over the place in the standings over the last five seasons, finishing as high as second and finishing as low as fourteenth during that span. They finished third last season, but never really threatened the top two teams, going 0-4 against them, as they were outscored 8-1 in those four matches. They were ablet to retain the league's top goal scorer last season in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and added Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta to a midfield that also features American international Jermaine Jones. 

Bayer Leverkusen remained relatively quiet throughout the offseason, mainly adding to their defense. They signed both Philipp Wollscheid and former Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal. Aside from those moves, it was mostly players leaving the Factory Squad, as they saw several players depart, including Rene Adler and Michael Ballack.

The surprise of the league could come from VfL Wolfsburg, the last squad not named Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich to win the league title (in 2009). After narrowly escaping relegation two seasons ago, Wolfsburg found themselves just outside of the Europa League picture with an eigth place finish last season. With the signing of forward Ivica Olic, the scoring for the Wolves should be up after they finished 9th out of the top 10 clubs last year in scoring.

TOP TRANSFERS

Marco Reus from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Borussia Dortmund

Xherdan Shaqiri from FC Basel to Bayern Munich

Mario Mandžukić from VfL Wolfsburg toBayern Munich

Tranquillo Barnetta from Bayer Leverkusen to Schalke 04

Granit Xhaka from FC Basel to Borussia Mönchengladbach

Alvaro Dominguez from Atletico Madrid to Borussia Mönchengladbach

Ivica Olic from Bayern Munich to VfL Wolfsburg

Philipp Wollscheid from FC Nuremberg to Bayer Leverkusen

Szabolcs Huszti from Zenit Saint Petersburg to Hannover 96

BIGGEST QUESTIONS

Can Borussia Dortmund three-peat?

As mentioned, Borussia Dortmund will look to cement their legacy with a third consecutive title, becoming only the third franchise to do so. They nearly pulled off the feat in the mid 90's after winning in 1995 and 1996, but failed to make the top two in 1997. It will be interesting to see how the club does without the strong play of Kagawa, but the squad is still strong enough to take home the title again.

Will Javi Martinez end up with Bayern Munich?

The Spanish defender has long been linked to Bayern Munich, but the signing has yet to take place. Confidence in the signing taking place has started to dwindle, with Manchester City now possibly becoming the landing spot for the star from Athletic Bilbao.The last statement from Bayern Munich regarding the move came from team president Uli Hoeness, who had this to say regarding Athletic Bilbao and their tactics: "The people at Bilbao are very, very stubborn and do everything they can to stop this transfer from happening."

Who will step up to challenge Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich?

It seems the two clubs will be able to coast to another one-two finish this year, but a club like Schalke 04 or Borussia Mönchengladbach could challenge them. It will come down to what club can keep up with them from the beginning of the season, as the top two clubs will be able to pressure the other clubs if they fail to keep up from the start.

Will Bayern Munich be able to recover from three second-place finishes?

The punches kept coming for Bayern Munich last year, and they will look to punch back this year. Perhaps not having the pressure of hosting the Champions League Final this year will make it easier in a run at their fifth title, and first since 2001. On top of their club failures, many top internationals endured tough runs in the Euro championships, with Arjen Robben and the Netherlands squad failing to make it into the second round, and Phillip Lahm, Mario Gomez, and Bastian Schweinsteiger failing to live up to expectations for the Germany squad.

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Which team do you see taking home the Bundesliga title this season? Will Bayern Munich recover from the disasterous luck in their title runs last year? Will it remain a two-club race again this year? Who will be the top player this season? What are you looking forward to most this season?

Share your thoughts below.

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11 Responses to SBI’s German Bundesliga Preview

  1. Kris says:

    Completely ridiculous that you left off Vfb Stuttgart as a contender. They will be contending for a top 3 finish all year.

  2. Robert Daniels says:

    Unlike the EPL(City and United) and La Liga (you know who), the Budendesliga title race could actually end up with someone else besides Munich or Dortmund on top which makes this league one of the more interesting to watch.

  3. jlm says:

    Bundesliga is as much a two team league as epl and la liga. i really don’t see why this is such an issue for people though since there is a competition for the best teams from each league. that makes having superclubs a good thing since they are representing the league and country when they compete in Europe. also, there are more “winners” than just the league champion. just don’t understand why people get so turned off by a “two team league.” also, lesser teams can still compete with great teams in soccer on a level they might not be able to in other sports.

  4. Frank says:

    I agree with Dortmund and Bayern being the two teams to beat this year. However, Gladbach will struggle this season. They had a great season last year after narrowly escaping relegation in 2011. They lost some of their key players from last year and, with the additional international games, will find themselves in the bottom half of the standings.

    VFB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen will continue with their inconsistent play but will likely challenge for Europa League spots. As will Schalke, Wolfsburg, Bremen, Mainz, Hannover 96 and Hoffenheim. Newly promoted Fuerth and Duesseldorf along with Hamburg, Augsburg, Freiburg will be fighting relegation. Frankfurt will secure a mid-table spot.

  5. biff says:

    Agree that Gladbach losing Marco Reus to Dortmund is a major shock to Gladbach, also losing Dante to FC Bayern is major blow. And, yeah, Gladbach did not look so good in their DFB Pokal win last week and in their loss Tuesday to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League play. Yes, it is possible that they will fail to end the season again in Europa League territory, but it is way too soon to count out a team coached by Lucien Favre, one of the best coaches in the Bundesliga. Lot of young talent on that team and he will get the most out of them. I was hoping that Gladbach would make a move for Clint Dempsey, whose experience would be a major asset for the team.

  6. nato says:

    I’d love to see Hanover 96 making a deep run and qualifying for the Champions League. I guess the best to hope for is them finishing 4th and somehow winning the play-off game.

  7. biff says:

    Says above Schalke was “able to retain the league’s top goal scorer last season in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar…”

    Maybe, maybe not. The transfer window is still open. His contract runs to June 2013 and Schalke has been trying like mad since last winter to get him to sign an extension and he has not done so yet. Schalke management just this week has said not worried, and that in any case they will not let him go until the end of his current contract. But that is easier said then done if a team swoops in during the next few days and makes a good offer and Schalke is faced with taking the money now and letting him go or holding him losing him next June for free.

    If Huntelaar does go during the next week which is not likely but possible, then Schalke would need to bring in a proven scorer–someone like Clint Dempsey.

  8. biff says:

    It’s possible. I watched part of the 5-3 scoring orgy yesterday in the Europea League, and Steven Cherundolo looked great, like a little pit bull out there. But defense was generally not good, especially one of their central defenders looked weak. Bocanegra would have done a better job. When Mame Diouf comes back from injury, he will give their offense a major boost.

  9. somedude says:

    Borussia Mönchengladbach will not challenge the top 3. If anything it would be Stuttgart, Schalke, or Wolfsburg.

  10. g? says:

    Not really, before Dortmund’s unexpected rise, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg (!) had won in recent years. I don’t see teams like Bilbao and Real Betis, or Everton and Stoke as legitimate title contenders in Spain or the PL. Bundesliga has always been less money/top heavy. Probably since they’re actual clubs, not billionaire playthings.

  11. JSS says:

    Shaqiri is a winger.. he wont be paired with Bastian Schweinsteiger