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

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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.

Ribery should be ok after bloody training injury

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Goalpost: 1, Franck Ribery: 0

The French winger suffered a bloody training injury when he crashed into a goalpost at the Bayern Munich summer training ground in the Western Bavarian Rottach-Egern.

Ribery, now 35 years old and in his 12th season at Bayern Munich, received lengthy treatment on the ground and untimately continued the training session with a big head wrap. Reportedly, however, he will miss a few days to recover. All indications are that he will be ok to start the season as Bayern begins the season a week from Sunday in the DFL-Supercup against Eintracht Frankfurt.

“Thanks everyone for your kind messages,” Ribery posted on Twitter. “I‘m already recovering and will be back in no time.”

Ribery has not made more than 22 league appearances since way back in the 2012/13 season, hampered at times by either injury or poor form. He will compete this season for appearances with fellow left wingers Kingsley Coman and former Arsenal youth product Serge Gnabry, while Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller man the right flank. While Ribery should recover from his injury soon, missing training time won’t help in earning minutes on the field while challenging those much younger.

Americans on both sides, Weah scores as PSG fall to Bayern (video)

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Two hopes of the USMNT’s future — one more immediate than the other — squared off in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain teenager Timothy Weah, 18, went 90 minutes and scored his side’s only goal in the 3-1 loss in Austria.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

On the other side of the field was 62nd minute substitute Chris Richards, far less known to the American supporter.

Richards is on loan from FC Dallas, where he’s a Homegrown Player. The 18-year-old center back is going to play for Bayern’s U-19 side following a successful trial in April.

Both Bayern and PSG were without key pieces, as Weah went up against a decent Bayern back line of Juan Bernat, Javi Martinez, Josip Stanisic, and Rafinha.

Arjen Robben, Sandro Wagner, and Franck Ribery were the biggest names in Bayern’s XI, while David Alaba, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry came off the bench.

For PSG, Gianluigi Buffon started as did Adrien Rabiot.

Weah’s goal is below, and here’s what he had to say about it:

“It’s an amazing feeling and getting a well-done job. Me scoring goals, I was really happy to get my first goal for PSG and first goal in this competition. We’re going to Singapore with our head on our shoulders. We’re going to be really humble and keep playing.”

Kramaric hat-trick puts Hoffenheim in Champions League spot

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Hoffenheim has found itself in a Champions League position after topping Hannover 96 at home 3-1 behind a hat-trick by Andrej Kramaric.

The first of the game came 16 minutes in as a terrible back-pass by defender Salif Sane failed to reach the goalkeeper and instead fell straight into the path of Serge Gnabry who eluded a charging Philipp Tschauner and touched to Kramaric for the tap-in. Gnabry was actually hurt on the play and had to be removed minutes later.

Hannover leveled things up after just eight minutes, but Kramaric was there to give Hoffenheim the lead back five minutes after the halftime break. On a corner, the outswinger evaded the pack but fell to 26-year-old Croatian who produced a fabulous volley to send a rocket into the back of the net.

And yet somehow, his third was even better. A long ball forward saw Kramaric go up against two defenders, and instead of taking them head-on, seeing Tschauner cheating forward, he dinked the ball past the two defenders, over the goalkeeper’s head, and into the back of the net. A wonderful goal that sealed the deal in the 86th minute and put Hoffenheim into fourth place in the Bundesliga table, a Champions League position.

Just a point behind them is Bayer Leverkusen who will play on Saturday against Stuttgart at home hoping to regain that position. Should Hoffenheim gain control, they would be gunning for the club’s second Champions League place in club history, with the first coming this season as they finished fourth the previous year as well. They were eliminated from the Champions League playoff round by Liverpool before finishing last in their Europa League group of SC Braga, Ludogorets, and Istanbul Başakşehir.

Bundesliga wrap: Hoffenheim, Bremen improve table hope

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Bayern Munich destroyed Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday, scoring five first-half goals and eviscerating any level of doubt regarding the top side in the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Arsenal beats Stoke ]

The league’s interest lies on escaping relegation and chasing Champions League spots. Both of those races saw movement over the weekend.

Hoffenheim 6-0 Koln

Koln’s hopes of a miraculous run out of the relegation zone were dashed at the hands of Hoffenheim, which got a blowout win with the help of another Bayern Munich man. Loanee Serge Gnabry scores twice to give him seven goals and six assists on the season as Hoffenheim stayed on the outskirts of the UEFA Champions League race.

Werder Bremen 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

An awful to start to the season has been almost completely remedied, as Zlatko Junuzovic was involved in both goals (including the below own goal) to lift Werder Bremen 10 points clear of the relegation playoff spot and hamper the visitors’ (probably expected) move into a tie for third. USMNT striker Aron Johannsson subbed into the match for the final 14 minutes, moments before Bremen scored the winner.

Elsewhere
Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Augsburg
Schalke 2-0 Freiburg
Hertha Berlin 0-0 Wolfsburg
Mainz 0-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Hannover 96 2-3 RB Leipzig
Stuttgart 1-1 Hamburg

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 28 22 3 3 72 20 52 12-2-0 10-1-3 69
 FC Schalke 04 28 15 7 6 43 30 13 8-4-2 7-3-4 52
 Borussia Dortmund 28 13 9 6 54 39 15 7-4-3 6-5-3 48
 RB Leipzig 28 13 7 8 43 37 6 8-4-2 5-3-6 46
 Bayer Leverkusen 28 12 9 7 47 35 12 6-5-3 6-4-4 45
 Eintracht Frankfurt 28 13 6 9 39 32 7 7-3-4 6-3-5 45
 1899 Hoffenheim 28 11 9 8 52 41 11 8-4-2 3-5-6 42
 VfB Stuttgart 28 11 5 12 26 31 -5 8-3-3 3-2-9 38
 Mönchengladbach 28 10 7 11 36 42 -6 6-4-4 4-3-7 37
 FC Augsburg 28 9 9 10 37 36 1 5-4-5 4-5-5 36
 Hertha BSC Berlin 28 8 12 8 32 32 0 4-6-4 4-6-4 36
 Werder Bremen 28 9 9 10 32 33 -1 6-4-4 3-5-6 36
 Hannover 96 28 8 8 12 35 42 -7 6-3-5 2-5-7 32
 SC Freiburg 28 6 12 10 26 46 -20 5-6-3 1-6-7 30
 VfL Wolfsburg 28 4 14 10 28 37 -9 2-7-5 2-7-5 26
 FSV Mainz 05 28 6 8 14 29 46 -17 5-3-6 1-5-8 26
 1. FC Köln 28 5 5 18 27 55 -28 3-3-8 2-2-10 20
 Hamburger SV 28 4 7 17 20 44 -24 3-4-7 1-3-10 19