Last season, Bundesliga fans were treated to an exciting title race…until the coronavirus lockdown, after which Bayern Munich turned on the magic and raced away from the chasing pack.
This time around, Die Roten are hot favourites to finish top of the pile for the ninth straight season and last year’s Champions League winners will take some beating.
That’s not to say that there is no intrigue around the new Bundesliga campaign. There is still plenty of enticing narratives that have caught 90min’s eye, such as the race for the Champions League spots, the relegation battle and some interesting transfers.
All of this and much more is discussed in our season preview below.
Bayern are the best team in the world. Fact.
The way that they carved apart the continent’s elite sides en route to Champions League glory in the summer was nothing short of extraordinary.
Looking through their squad, it’s hard to see any weaknesses. In Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies they possess one of, it not the best full-back pairing in world football, while David Alaba’s emergence as a composed, dominant centre-back has strengthened their hand further.
Going forward, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Leroy Sané are all irresistible. Then there’s Robert Lewandowski – the man robbed of this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
Failure to secure the title would not only be a shock, it would be a disaster.
Borussia Dortmund are likely to lead the chasing pack, although they do not look as dangerous as they did last season.
Losing Real Madrid loanne Achraf Hakimi to Inter is a crushing blow but at least the void left by the Moroccan’s departure has been somewhat filled by Thomas Meunier. Bringing in Emre Can permanently after an impressive loan spell also helps Lucien Favre’s chances of halting Bayern’s title procession.
Last season, Dortmund lost ground in the race for top spot by failing to defeat teams in the bottom half, while they also failed to win either Der Klassiker fixture. While this latter sin is forgivable, BVB must learn to put away lesser teams to have any hope of an unlikely title charge.
RB Leipzig’s reaching the Champions League semi final proved there is life after Timo Werner at the Red Bull Arena.
Saying that, their star man will be badly missed this season and Julian Nagelsmann will need several of his players to step up their performances.
One such potential difference maker is Dani Olmo. Signed from Dinamo Zagreb in January, this will be the playmaker’s first full season in the Bundesliga and big things are expected.
Leipzig’s fate will also depend on how well new striker Hee-chan Hwang – signed from sister club Red Bull Salzburg – fares in front of goal. The South Korean international racked up 23 goal involvements from 27 games in Austria but whether or not he can replicate this against superior opposition remains to be seen.
Archetypal Bundesliga dark horses Bayer Leverkusen are once again being tipped to surprise a few people.
Last season, Die Werkself went agonisingly close to securing Champions League qualification and under the tutelage of inspirational head coach Peter Bosz they could easily go one better this time around.
Losing talisman Kai Havertz to Chelsea is obviously a blow, but his £62m transfer fee does offer Bosz a sizable warchest for some new recruits – even after bringing in Roma striker Patrik Schick. It should be an interesting campaign for Leverkusen.
Borrussia Monchengladach were last season’s surprise package. Dashing manager Marco Rose got Die Folen playing an attracting brand of high octane football, with the club securing a fourth placed finish.
Repeating the trick will be tough this time around but Gladbach can take heart in the fact that they’ve managed to keep hold of all of their star performers.
Marcus Thuram, Nico Elvedi and Denis Zakaria were linked with moves away from the club in the summer, but all three are set to stay around – for now at least. Keeping hold of Rose should also be a priority for Gladbach.
This could finally be the year that Hertha Berlin get their act together and break into Bundesliga the top six.
Buoyed by significant recent investment, Hertha have a tidy squad and an experienced, if not always successful, coach in Bruno Labbadia.
Matheus Cunha, Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Tousart will all be chomping at the bit to impress this season. If this trio starts firing on all cylinders Die Alte Dame should shoot up the table.
As recently as 2011, financial problems led to Arminia Bielefeld being relegated to the 3. Liga and teetering on the brink of extinction.
Their return to the big time is richly deserved after they romped to the 2.Bundesliga title last season. Keep an eye out for 32-year-old target man Fabian Klos who has been with the club since 2011 and will finally be getting a taste of top flight football.
Stuttgart dropping out of the Bundesliga in 2019 was a disaster but they bounced back at the first time of asking last season. Boasting a fervent support and a strong squad, it would be surprise to see them near the drop zone.
Keep an eye out for ex-Chelsea youngster Clinton Mola. The 19-year-old has been turning heads since moving to Die Schwaben back in January.
Leroy Sané – Manchester City to Bayern Munich (£40.5m)
Emre Can – Juventus to Borussia Dortmund (£24m)
Thomas Meunier – Paris Saint-Germain to Borussia Dortmund (Free)
John Córdoba – FC Koln to Hertha Berlin (£13.5m)
Patrik Schick – Roma to Bayer Leverkusen (£24m)
Jude Bellingham – Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund (£24m)
Valentino Lazaro – Inter to Borussia Monchengladbach (Loan)
Alexander Nübel – Schalke to Bayern Munich (Free)
Omer Toprak – Borussia Dortmund to Werder Bremen (£3.6m)
Sebastian Andersson – Union Berlin to FC Koln (£6m)
What we are about to say will not shock you but it may dishearten you: Bayern will win the Bundesliga this season and they’ll probably do it at a canter.
Dortmund might run them close and Leipzig will be no pushovers, however Die Roten are just so much stronger than everyone else in the division.
Leverkusen and Gladbach will likely battle it out for fourth and we reckon the latter will just about shade it. At the bottom, things are tough to call but expect Bielefeld to go straight back down.
Prediction: 1) Bayern Munich 2) Borussia Dortmund 3) RB Leipzig 4) Bayer Leverkusen 5) Borussia Monchengladbach 6) Hoffenheim 7) Hertha Berlin 8) Eintracht Frankfurt 9) Wolfsburg 10) Freiburg 11) Schalke 12) FC Koln 13) Werder Bremen 14) Augsburg 15) Stuttgart 16) Augsburg 17) Union Berlin 18) Arminia Bielefeld