Bundesliga predictions: Bayern will take some stopping
Bayern Munich sealed a 10th straight Bundesliga title last season as they finished eight points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who for the third time in four years had to settle for second best.
However, Bayern’s points tally of 77 was their lowest total during that decade of dominance and the Bavarians will embark on their title defence without star striker Robert Lewandowski.
Poland’s talisman has made the switch to Barcelona while chief title rivals Dortmund have also been weakened by Erling Haaland’s summer switch to Manchester City.
Those key departures may offer hope to the likes of RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, although the big two will believe they still remain head and shoulders above the competition on the back of their summer recruitment.
With the new season getting under way on Friday, with Bayern travelling to Eintracht Frankfurt for a 7.30pm kick-off, here is a look at the key contenders in what should be a more competitive scrap for title supremacy in Germany.
Big two still hold title focus
Bayern have led Dortmund home in three of the last four seasons and even with Lewandowski and Haaland having left for pastures new, both strikers appear to have been replaced wisely by their respective clubs.
Julian Nagelsmann has managed to lure Sadio Mane away from Liverpool as Lewandowski’s replacement, while Dortmund have spent their Haaland fee on Karim Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg and Ajax’s Sebastien Haller.
Mane may struggle to rack up the amount of goals Lewandowksi did but the Senegalese star netted at least 15 in three of his four most recent Premier League seasons and should thrive in a less competitive division.
Unfortunately for Dortmund, Haller is set to miss several months of the season and 20-year-old Adeyemi has more to prove, having done his goalscoring damage in Austria’s top flight.
A new manager in Edin Terzic, who succeeds Marco Rose, is another thing to consider.
With Bayern also strengthening their defence with the arrival of Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus and bolstering their squad depth through former Ajax duo Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch, the champions are still going to take some stopping.
Leverkusen could upstage Leipzig again
It was Leverkusen who claimed third place last season, which was their best Bundesliga finish since the 2015-16 campaign, and they may be able to repeat the trick at Leipzig’s expense.
With Patrik Schick leading the line and his younger Czech compatriot Adam Hlozek arriving to provide support, Leverkusen look a team full of goals, particularly if they can fight off the summer attention for tricky French winger Moussa Diaby.
Leipzig too have plenty of firepower, with Christopher Nkunku spearheading their attack, but there may be more to come from Leverkusen with a second full season under the guidance of Gerardo Seoane.
Leverkusen won six of their final eight games last season to finish on 64 points, six better than Leipzig, who must improve upon a dreadful away record that saw them win only six of their 17 games on their travels.
Frankfurt hoping to break into top four
Eintracht Frankfurt could finish only 11th in the Bundesliga last season, but their victory in the Europa League highlights their capabilities.
The Eagles defeated the likes of Real Betis, Barcelona, West Ham and Rangers in the knockout stages of that competition and given the quality they possess it would be disappointing if they did not take a massive step forward domestically.
The arrivals of experienced operators Lucas Alario and Mario Gotze show serious intent and it is worth remembering that they finished fifth in the 2020-21 campaign, so are clearly capable of much better.