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.
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)
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.