Bundesliga season preview: Bullet points you need to know before Bayern wins it all again

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Joking aside, it’s been a one-sided rivalry between Bayern Munich and the rest of the Bundesliga the past two seasons.

Pep Guardiola’s bunch may’ve not won the UEFA Champions League, but they’ve cruised through Germany’s top flight and appear poised to do so again this year.

[ LISTEN: Men in Blazers preview Bundesliga with Paul Kalkbrenner ]

But will it be that simple? Did they lose more than they gained in the offseason? Is Wolfsburg, Monchengladbach or Borussia Dortmund ready to take the next step in challenging for a crown? And how will the myriad USMNT players fare this season.

All that and more in quick tidbits here.

Who went down? Freiburg and Paderborn

Only two? Hamburger beat Kalrlsruher in the relegation/promotion playoff

Who came up? Ingolstadt and Darmstadt

New to the league: Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Francisco Rodriguez Araya (Wolfsburg), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Fabian Schar (Hoffenheim), Marko Maric (Hoffenheim), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Fabian Frei (Mainz), Mevlut Erdinc (Mainz), Emiliano Insua (Stuttgart), Albin Ekdal (Hamburger), Alfredo Morales (promoted with Ingolstadt), Mathew Leckie (promoted with Ingolstadt),

Gone from the league: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Tranquillo Barnetta (Philadelphia Union), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Timon Wellenreuther (Mallorca), Ciro Immobile (Sevilla), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain), Sebastian Prodl (Watford), Eljero Elia (Feyenoord), Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City), Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham Hotspur), Joselu (Stoke City), John Heitinga (Ajax), Valon Behrami (Watford), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Betis)

Old faces, new places: Max Kruse (Borussia Monchengladbach), Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach), Emir Spahic (Hamburger), Gonzalo Castro (Borussia Dortmund), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Bayer Leverkusen), Anthony Ujah (Werder Bremen), Lars Stindl (Monchengladbach), Anthony Ujah (Werder Bremen), Anthony Modeste (Koln), Junior Diaz (Darmstadt)

source:
Source: Werder Bremen

Americans Abroad: Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Fabian Johnson (Monchengladbach), Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Julian Green (Bayern Munich, but expected with reserves), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), David Yelldell (Bayer Leverkusen), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Jerome Kiesewetter (Stuttgart).

Yeah, but which ones will factor? Johnson, Brooks and Morales should play a lot. Chandler, too, but the USMNT defender has recently gotten some grief from Frankfurt’s manager Armin Veh. Johansson will get every chance to win playing time and goals for new team Werder Bremen.

Why will Bayern win? Schweinsteiger is gone, but fought fitness for the past few years. The defense is in tact, Manuel Neuer is still between the sticks and Arturo Vidal is in town to strengthen the already-frightening attack unit (Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze, et. al).

Make me a case they don’t: Injuries could strike? Realistically, a bounce here or there against Bayern and a congested European schedule could help clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen or Monchengladbach make a charge. But, really, Bayern finished with a plus-62 goal differential, allowing just 18, and they eased up on the Bundesliga slate once the 25th German title — 24th in the Bundesliga — was wrapped up.

Fernandes, Solskjaer react to playmaker’s star show: “He wants the ball all the time”

Bruno Fernandes
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried to put words to the virtuoso performance of Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes on Sunday.

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Fernandes won and converted a penalty for his first United goal, then set up Anthony Martial for a goal and directly assisted Mason Greenwood‘s marker late in the 3-0 win over Watford at Old Trafford.

The 25-year-old barely put a foot wrong on the day, converting all three of his dribble attempts and winning all seven of his ground duels.

“He has given everyone a boost,” Solskjaer said. “He wants the ball all the time, he wants to conduct the play. I am very pleased for him. He has done something to the crowd. He shows the attributes of a Manchester United player. He is a great addition to the squad.”

The Portuguese had shown signs of his prowess in his first four appearances for United, but Sunday was a whole new sort of contribution.

Fernandes was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch, with a gulf to second.

“This is the day every player wants to have. I feel lucky to score, I feel lucky to win the game. We all gave our best and we all deserved the win. I just need to help the team, it’s what I want to do, it’s what I need to do. I hope Martial scores more goals too like he did tonight.”

If he puts up a few more days like this, especially with Scott McTominay returning to do more grunt work behind him, United’s going back to the UCL.

Everton’s Calvert-Lewin opens scoring with overhead kick (video)

Overhead kick
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a spectacular goal, and Arsenal’s chaotic defending gave him a big assist.

The Everton man had the Toffees up 1-0 inside of the first minute when he hammered an overhead kick past Bernd Leno.

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Calvert-Lewin was first to react when David Luiz could only pop a swirling Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick high into the air.

The forward’s foot flew past Luiz’s mane — it withstood VAR review — after the Gunners looked confused by Sead Kolasinac following his mark into the 18.

The goal is Calvert-Lewin’s 12th of the PL season. He’s scored four in his last five league outings, and 10 in his last 12.

He has seven goals in nine matches under Carlo Ancelotti.

Wolves’ red-hot Jota too much for Norwich City

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Diogo Jota scored twice and helped produce the third goal of Wolves 3-0 battering of Norwich City at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.

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Mexican star Raul Jimenez scored the other goal for Wolves.

Wolves rise eighth with 39 points, five points off fourth and two back of fifth-place Manchester United.

Norwich City remains seven points back of 17th place with a league-worst goal differential sinking to minus-27.


Three things we learned

1. Red-hot JotaWolves’ 23-year-old attacker was coming off a hat trick versus Espanyol in Europa League play, and had two goals by the half-hour mark at the Molineux. That gives him five PL goals amongst his 14 in all competitions as Wolves threaten both the Europa League and, somehow, remain alive in the top four race.

2. Abject Norwich defending: Daniel Farke‘s men have been praised for continuing their forward-thinking, attack-minded football in the Premier League, but maybe they simply didn’t have the protectors to bunker down in front of Tim Krul. That’s a bit unfair, because it’s admirable that Farke wishes to entertain, but there’s no debating the mess that is the Canaries defense this year.

3. Jimenez is Mexico’s best: Club Leon’s coach made headlines this week when he called LAFC’s Carlos Vela the best Mexican player, and perhaps he’s No. 2, but there’s no North American in the world doing what Raul is doing in Europe. Jimenez went over 3,300 season minutes on Sunday, adding another goal to give him 22 with 10 assists. Only Rui Patricio, Conor Coady, and Joao Moutinho have played more than the El Tri star.

Man of the Match: Jota


Norwich City had two promising moments in the first seven minutes, as Max Aarons hit a terrific through ball that died with a Teemu Pukki extra touch. Then Pukki forced Rui Patricio into a save.

Kenny McLean cranked a shot to Patricio off a Puuki pass in the 11th minute.

A Norwich giveaway allowed Diogo Jota to dance into the 18, but he instead dribbled himself out of room and was tackled.

Jota made amends in the 19th minute, lashing home after a terrific team goal.

It might’ve been 2-0 had Alex Tettey not darted between Jota’s 23rd-minute pass to Raul Jimenez.

Jota got his second in the 30th off a corner kick, as Romain Saiss slashed a pass across the six that any of three Wolves would’ve put in for a two-goal lead.

Tim Krul made a great save on a Ruben Neves free kick after Jota was injured drawing the set piece atop the 18.

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Jota smashed the post moments before Jimenez deposited Wolves’ third goal of the game, a 3-0 lead arriving in the 50th minute.

Fernandes runs the show as Manchester United crushes Watford

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Bruno Fernandes scored a goal and helped set up two as Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Anthony Martial recorded United’s second goal with a magical finish off his own rebound after Fernandes sent him through on goal, while Mason Greenwood added a late goal after a 1-2 with the Portuguese.

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United is now fifth with 41 points, three points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Watford had a goal chalked off by VAR, and remains in the bottom three with 24 points. That’s one point off 17th and two off 16th.


Three things we learned

1. Bruno as advertised: There was no question Fernandes addressed a need for the Old Trafford set, but few would’ve seen the Portuguese revolutionizing the team’s attack so quickly (and also underlining how badly United has missed Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba). It’s not silly to say Fernandes could’ve had four assists on the day. Magnificent stuff from the 25-year-old. No surprise he has Cristiano Ronaldo’s endorsement.

2. Greenwood shows another glimpse: The Mason Greenwood hype train hasn’t been as pronounced as Marcus Rashford’s of years past, and we’re grateful for that. But his shoulder move and sick cut before dribbling 50 yards to combine with Fernandes on the third goal of the game was gorgeous stuff. More hope for the future.

3. This: It’s easy to forget the heights of which somewhat-mercurial Anthony Martial is capable.

Man of the Match: Fernandes had four key passes and was perfect in his take-ons and ground duels. Incredible show.


Poor communication between Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic sprung Troy Deeney toward goal, but United left back Luke Shaw saved his teammates further blushes with a block.

Abdoulaye Doucoure then ran onto a dummied Gerard Deulofeu pass but found himself closed down by David De Gea.

United should’ve been up through Wan-Bissaka when Foster parried a cross onto his path, but the English back struck the ball tamely into the outside of the goal.

Bruno Fernandes led a terrific 38th-minute move, and Daniel James eventually teed up Fred for a shot that curled wide of the goal.

The January signing danced past Ben Foster and hit the deck when the Watford goalkeeper went to ground. VAR stayed with the call on the field, and Fernandes finished well with a little hop step.

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Deeney looked to have made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute, thumping a. ball into the top of the goal when a corner kick was turned off the post by Craig Dawson‘s arm. It was attached to his body, but that does not matter in the attacking box.

Martial instead made it 2-0 off a Fernandes feed, collecting his own rebound before dribbling Watford dizzy and spinning a chip into the goal.

Fernandes spotted Maguire with a seeing-eye cross in the 69th, but the defender’s header was poor.

Greenwood scored his goal in the 75th, carrying the ball 50 yards before working a 1-2 with Fernandes and finishing with aplomb.

Odion Ighalo came close to getting on the board for his new club against his old one, but Adam Masina deflected his shot off the post.