Bundesliga season preview: Bayern, sure, but who’s next?

AP Photo/Michael Probst
0 Comments

Here’s your Bundesliga cheat sheet ahead of the Friday return of Germany’s top flight, though there’s little question that not much has changed: Bayern Munich is expected to win a seventh-straight title, and it’s not likely to be close.

[ MORE: PL club power rankings, Wk 2 ]

FiveThirtyEight.com’s predictive model gives Bayern a crazy 82 percent chance to wear another crown. For comparison’s sake, Man City gets 50 percent odds to win the Premier League, the same as Juventus in Serie A and four percentage points lower than Barcelona’s odds to win La Liga (PSG is also 82 percent likely to win France).

The competition for second, though, should again be exciting, and league depth again tempts to make the race to qualify for Europe as long and heavy as ever.

Champions League entrants: Bayern Munich (reigning Bundesliga champions), Schalke, Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund

Europa League entrants: Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt

Promoted teams: Fortuna Dusseldorf and Nurnberg

Relegated to 2.Bundesliga: Hamburg and Koln

Managerial changes: Niko Kovac (Bayern Munich), Eintracht Frankfurt (Adi Hutter), Borussia Dortmund (Lucien Favre), RB Leipzig (Ralf Rangnick)

Americans Abroad: In Bundesliga | And 2.Bundesliga

Another American story (or two?) — As Ralf Rangnick takes over at RB Leipzig, his No. 2 will be former New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch. There are rumors that Leipzig will then take RBNY midfielder Tyler Adams during the January transfer window.

Notable transfers (so far): Leon Goretzka moved from Schalke to Bayern Munich, with Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal the biggest names leaving the champions.

Schalke has signed goal scorer Mark Uth from Hoffenheim, and lost Goretzka, Mx Meyer, and Benedikt Howedes amongst others.

Uth is a loss for Hoffenheim, as is Serge Gnabry going back to Bayern after the end of his loan. Kasim Nuhu is an interesting add from Young Boys, and Leonardo Bittencourt is a good takeaway from Koln.

BVB has added promising Mainz defender Abdou Diallo, while losing a number of name players: Andriy Yarmolenko, Andre Schurrle (loan), and Sokratis as well as star half-season loanee Michy Batshuayi.

Bayer Leverkusen selling Bernd Leno to Arsenal means a change between the sticks, while RB Leipzig lost Naby Keita to Liverpool and Bernardo to Brighton.

Stuttgart hopes more playing time is the tonic for new additions Pablo Maffeo (Man City) and Gonzalo Castro (BVB).

Eintracht Frankfurt has seen a wealth of ins and outs, headlined by Ante Rebic, Carlos Salcedo, and Lucas Torro.

Gladbach added star striker Alassane Plea, selling one of its best backs to Southampton in Jannik Vestergaard.

Hertha Berlin is hoping a loan of Liverpool’s Marko Grujic does both parties wonders, while Werder Bremen flipped the shop and brought in Davy Klaassen and young U.S. striker Josh Sargent to go with a trio of Koln players (including Claudio Pizarro).

Augsburg won big with Twente youngster Fredrik Jensen, and also added Andre Hahn from Hamburg and Felix Gotze from Bayern.

USMNT striker Bobby Wood left relegated Hamburg for Hannover 96 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Hannover 96 added USMNT striker Bobby Wood (right), while Mainz sold Leon Balogun to Brighton, Diallo to BVB, and Yoshinori Muto to Newcastle in addition to the sale of Jonas Lossl to Huddersfield Town.

Wolfsburg hopes Wout Weghorst can be its next big striker, while new boys Fortuna Dusseldorf loaded up with a number of new faces including USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales and 19-year-old Davor Lovren (younger brother of Liverpool’s Dejan). Nurnber has scooped up German-American youngster Timothy Tillman on loan from Bayern Munich.

The read: It’s difficult to say anyone will overtake Bayern Munich, though there could be some bumps and bruises as the club learns Niko Kovac’s system.

Schalke and Borussia Dortmund will both lean heavily on their youth to make up for big name departures. The good news for the USMNT is that if either side succeeds, it means Pulisic and McKennie likely took the next steps in their careers. Bayer Leverkusen is a dark horse to compete for the Top Four.

Hoffenheim has lost a lot, as has RB Leipzig, which may open the door for Borussia Monchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, or even Werder Bremen to return to Europe.. The race for fourth through ninth should be bonkers.

New boys Fortuna Dusseldorf and Nurnberg will face long odds to stay in the top flight, and both Mainz and Freiburg have numerous questions. Those four should be considered most likely to drop to 2.Bundesliga via automatic relegation or the playoff.