“I dare to make a prognosis: It could turn out one way or the other.” Former United coach Ron Atkinson (82) has SPOX and Goal warned a long time ago. We still commit ourselves: Bayern is due, Haaland cracks Lewy and Dahoud goes to the World Cup – the eleven theses for the start of the Bundesliga.
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1. The Bundesliga will continue to lose its attractiveness
by Daniel Buse
The DFL always has something very special in mind for the Bundesliga opening game: After FC Bayern, as the series champions in the home game on the first day of the game, mostly didn’t give their overwhelmed opponents a chance, this time it has to be something new. FCB is heading to Gladbach – and so the league in the classic of the past can hope for more excitement than it was recently. A worthy start into the new season.
But the Bundesliga is not just Gladbach vs. Bayern, but also a lot of Wolfsburg vs. Bochum, Bielefeld vs. Freiburg and Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim. All of the duels that are on the schedule on the first weekend of the league – and that should hardly itch the neutral football fan in Germany. The title has been awarded to FC Bayern for what feels like an eternity, behind which teams like Leipzig and Dortmund try in vain to break Munich’s dominance. And behind that comes the big rest, Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim.
With the relegation of FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen, two clubs said goodbye that still had a certain charisma, that interested, excited or enthusiastic. The exchange of places with the two climbers from Fürth and Bochum illustrates how big the loss is for the league.
The talk that the second division is now the new first division is clearly exaggerated, but eight of the 18 clubs in Germany with the largest number of members are currently playing in the lower house. That’s all well and good for the interest in the second division – but not for the Bundesliga.
2. David Raum becomes the German newcomer of the season
by Louis Loeser
Even before Greuther Fürth was promoted, it was clear that David Raum would play in the Bundesliga this season. In January, TSG Hoffenheim announced the left-back’s free transfer and thus secretly landed a transfer coup early on.
Raum was a key player in the clovers’ promotion season and never missed a single competitive game. On the left, he showed all the qualities that make a modern full-back and repeatedly switched to offensive play. In doing so, he regularly delivered precise crosses and collected a total of 15 assists – shared league maximum (with Robert Zulj, VfL Bochum).
Raum also built on his strong performances at the U21 European Championship. The trained offensive player brought a total of ten crosses – twice as many as any other player – and contributed two assists to the European Championship. Ridle Baku from VfL Wolfsburg added it almost as a blueprint on the right side of the defense. Both of them are exactly the fast, powerful and modern type of full-back that the senior national team has been looking for for years.
“Then people keep saying that we no longer have full-backs. Then David Raum and Ridle Baku are suddenly there,” said Matthias Sammer in an interview with the after the U21 European Championship Focus and thus already indicated what the future of the DFB-Elf could look like under Hansi Flick.
In Hoffenheim, space is exactly the missing piece of the puzzle. Since the departure of Nico Schulz to BVB, there has been a lack of stability on the left side of the defense. Neither the retraining of winger Robert Skov nor the loan from Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur) could change that. Space, on the other hand, has the right requirement profile.
In Sebastian Hoeneß’s variable system, the 23-year-old’s strengths come into their own. In both the four and the three-man chain, Raum has a lot of freedom offensively and is regularly fed with diagonal balls.
3. The departures of Alaba and Boateng are becoming a problem
by Oliver Maywurm
Jerome Boateng was in the starting line-up of FC Bayern in 29 of 34 Bundesliga games last season, David Alaba in their 30. They often formed the central defense together. As of this season, both will no longer be available to the record champions: Alaba switched to Real Madrid, Boateng has not yet found a new club after his contract in Munich ended.
Sure: With Dayot Upamecano, Bayern have brought in one of the best central defenders in the league, with Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle there are two other central defenders with huge potential and then there are the up-and-coming talents Tanguy Nianzou and Chris Richards. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the departures of Alaba and Boateng are underestimated in the public perception.
In purely sporting terms, two cornerstones of the defense finally break away. Alaba has been beyond any doubt over the past few years, Boateng found his way back to his old form under Hansi Flick – and both continue to be among the best defensive players in world football. Can Bavaria adequately compensate for this loss? Upamecano first has to find his way around the new environment and prove that he can withstand the pressure at Bayern. After his serious knee injury, Süle has not been able to regain his old condition so far, Hernandez is very prone to injury, Nianzou and Richards still need the time, which is usually missing at FCB, to study.
And what is even more important than the sporting aspect is the fact that with Alaba and Boateng two personalities have left the club. Two figures to identify with, two persons of respect, two spokesmen who can fall back on a huge wealth of experience and have won almost everything there is to be won.
Such top-class departures also result in new trends in the dressing room, and two anchors of the team have been dropped. There are fewer shoulders on which the load can be distributed – which seems problematic especially in Bavaria’s current situation with a new coach and difficult preparation.