By Aidan McGinn
With the start of the Bundesliga season rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at what each team has been doing in the off-season, the new faces on the block, and expectations for each team heading into the season.
1. FC Augsburg
2017/18 finish: 12th
Transfers In: Felix Götze, Andre Hahn, Fredrik Jensen, Julian Schieber
Transfers Out: Ioannis Gelious, Marcel Heller, Marwin Hitz, Moritz Leitner
FC Augsburg brings in a few new faces, but the biggest question they have facing them is how they’re going to replace goalkeeper Marwin Hits, who started thirty-two games for them last season, but now plays for Borussia Dortmund. Another area that needs addressing is goalscoring. In thirty-four matches, Augsburg only managed forty-three goals for, compared to forty-six goals against. With the addition of Andre Hahn, Fredrik Jensen, and Julian Schieber, it would be expected that they add some proven goal scoring; yet the three combined to score a total of eight goals last season. It looks to be another season of mediocrity with a midtable finish for FC Augsburg.
2. Bayer Leverkusen
2017/18 finish: 5th
Transfers In: Lukas Hradecky, Paulinho, Mitchell Weiser
Transfers Out: Joel Abu Hanna, Bernd Leno
After a tough finish to the season last year, Bayer Leverkusen will be participating in the Europa League, instead of the Champions league due to goal differential which saw them finish fifth instead of a possible third. They did a good job of replacing Bernd Leno (transferred to Arsenal) with Eintracht goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. If the likes of Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt can take the next step forward, and Kevin Volland can carry last seasons goalscoring into this season, expect a potent attack force from Leverkusen.
3. Bayern Munich
2017/18 finish: 1st
Transfers In: Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka
Transfers Out: Douglas Costa, Niklas Dorsch, Milos, Manvel Wintzheimer, Arturo Vidal
After a relatively quiet transfer window compared to last season, Bayern Munich look to capture their seventh consecutive title, and twenty-ninth overall. Bringing in Leon Goretzka on a free transfer only adds to their incredible depth at midfield. With Alphonso Davies joining in January, Bayern only get better. There are a few concerns though. With Arturo Vidal on his way out, and with Jerome Boateng possibly following him, they lose two key contributors. They’re also on their fourth coach in two years since Pep Guardiola left for Manchester City. Still nevertheless anything less than a title win, will be considered an underachieving season for Munich.
4. Borussia Dortmund
2017/18 finish: 4th
Transfers In: Kamal Bafounta, Thomas Delaney, Abdou Diallo, Marwin Hitz, Eric Oelschlägel, Marius Wolf, Axel Witsel
Transfers Out: Gonzalo Castro, Erik Durm, Mikel Merino, Sokratis, Dominik Reimann
No team has done a better job than Dortmund in the transfer window. They’ve replaced several players that have underperformed with quality, first-team players. Expect Abdou Diallo and Thomas Delaney to make immediate impacts with Diallo anchoring the backline and Delaney doing likewise in the midfield. Marius Wolf will also look to contribute, but will most likely start the season behind Marco Reus and Christian Pulisic. Possibly one of the best things Dortmund has done, is bring in Lucien Favre, who will look to make this team into one that can challenge for a title. Favre was Reus’ coach while he played for Borussia Mönchengladbach, and under his guidance Reus had some of the best seasons of his career. Now with them reunited and Reus fully fit to begin the season if Favre can get the best out of him, expect a push for the title from Borussia Dortmund.
5. Borussia Mönchengladbach
2017/18 finish: 9th
Transfers In: Keanan Bennetts, Michael Lang, Torben Müsel, Alassane Plea, Andreas Poulsen, Christian Theoharous
Transfers Out: Jannik Vestergaard, Vincenzo Grifo
After a campaign which saw them have the same amount of losses as they did wins, Gladbach look to challenge for a Europa League place this coming season. The most essential piece of this team is Thorgan Hazard who was one of their most productive players last season with ten goals and five assists. Gladbach might have to wait for him to rejoin the team though as he was part of the Belgium squad that advanced to the semi-finals in Russia. With the addition of Alassane Plea though, Gladbach have added some needed goalscoring. With Lars Stindl still out with an ankle injury that prevented him from playing in the World Cup, Gladbach will need Plea to hit the ground running.
6. Eintracht Frankfurt
2017/18 finish: 6th
Transfers In: Nicolai Müller, Obite N’Dicka, Goncalo Paciencia, Ante Rebic, Frederick Rönnow, Carlos Salcedo, Lucas Torro, Felix Wiedwald
Transfers Out: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Lukas Hradecky, Omar Mascarell, Marius Wolf
After completing last season on a strong note, beating Bayern Munich 3-1 to win the DFB Pokal Cup as well as securing a Europa League place, Frankfurt will start this season a very different team. Coach Niko Kovač was scooped up by Bayern Munich as soon as the season ended. Replacing him with Adi Hütter was a good move, seeing as they both are able to get the most out of their players. Replacing Lukas Hradecky won’t be easy, but Frederick Rönnow should be up to the task. Frankfurt also brings in Ante Rebic on a permanent deal from Fiorentina. He’ll need to step up to replace the loss of Marius Wolf if Frankfurt expect to go deep into the Europa League this season.
2017/18 finish: 1st (Bundesliga 2)
Transfers In: Diego Contento, Marvin Ducksch, Kenan Karaman, Alfredo Morales, Benito Raman, Kevin Stöger, Jean Zimmer, Matthias Zimmerman
Transfers Out: Julian Schauerte
Competing in the Bundesliga for the first time since the 2012/13 season, Düsseldorf will look to continue playing like it was last season. They came in first place with a goal differential of thirteen, conceding a little over a goal a match. They return four players that scored at least six goals last season. Defense will be the key to success for them this year though, as it often is for newly promoted teams. They will also need to work on discipline; they averaged about fifteen fouls per game and they had sixty-seven yellow cards last year which is an average of about two per match. If can clean their fouling up and their goal scorers don’t regress, don’t be surprised to see the new boys on the block finish mid-table.
8. SC Freiburg
2017/18 finish: 15th
Transfers In: Brandon Borello, Mark Flekken, Jerome Gondorf, Dominique Heintz, Philip Leinhart, Niclas Thiede, Luca Waldschmidt
Transfers Out: Rafal Gikiewicz, Marc-Oliver Kempf, Jonas Meffert, Vincent Sierro
With the second worst goal differential in the league, and only finishing one spot above relegation, SC Freiburg knew the areas they needed to address coming into the offseason; shore up the defense and bolster the goalscoring. They haven’t done either. Most of the players they’ve brought in are either young and unproven, or were bought then immediately loaned back out. Unless a miracle happens, SC Freiburg will most likely be relegated next season.
9. Hannover 96
2017/18 finish: 13th
Transfers In: Josip Elez, Walace, Leo Weinkauf
Transfers Out: Charilson Benschop, Martin Harnik, Felix Klaus, Salif Sane, Manuel Schmiedebach
After an underachieving season, Hannover has the potential to be a lot better this season. They bring in Bobby Wood to help with the attack, which could potentially turn them into one of the more potent attack forces in the Bundesliga with Niclas Füllkrug coming off a strong season, and Ihlas Bebou looking to replace Martin Harnik in the first team and take his production to a higher level. Kevin Wimmer and Josip Elez help shore up the defense. If this team can click as a unit they will definitely finish in the top half of the table and possibly challenge for more.
10. Hertha Berlin
2017/18 finish: 10th
Transfers In: Javairo Dilrosun, Lukas Klünter, Pascal Köpke, Valentino Lazaro
Transfers Out: Julian Schieber, Mitchell Weiser
Hertha Berlin haven’t done a whole lot in the offseason. They’ve brought in some younger players who they will look to develop throughout the next few seasons. The loss of Mitchell Weiser hurts them a little bit, but besides that they remain largely unchanged from last season. This raises a bit of concern and question about how they will look to improve this season, seeing as they haven’t brought in any immediate contributors and they were average in about every category last season. If they want to challenge for a higher finish, they will need some major contributors to come from within their ranks.
2017/18 finish: 3rd
Transfers In: Ishak Belfodil, Leonardo Bittencourt, Joshua Brenet, Vincenzo Grifo, Kasim Adams Nuhu
Transfers Out: Mark Uth
Hoffenheim come into the season on a high, but bitter note. They secured Champions League football and finished in 3rd place to follow up their 4th place finish in the 2016/17 season. Manager Julian Nagelsmann, despite only being 31 years old, has changed the culture of this team forever. Unfortunately following this season, he will be managing Leipzig. With both Mark Uth and Serge Gnarby on different teams now, the only returning double digit scorer will be Andrej Kramaric who will be expected to lead this team not only as a goal scorer, but also as a voice on the pitch. Transfers Ishak Belfodil and Leonardo Bittencourt should both make an immediate impact, seeing as they won’t have to adjust to Bundesliga football as they transfer from Werder Bremen and FC Cologne respectively. If Julian Nagelsmann can get the best out of the players, Hoffenheim will enter the season as a dark horse candidate for the title.
2017/18 finish: 14th
Transfers In: Jean-Philippe Mateta, Phillipp Mwene, Moussa Niakhate, Kunde Malong Pierre
Transfers Out: Leon Balogun, Jonas Lössl, Kenan Kodro, Suat Serdar, Abdou Diallo
After finishing in the bottom half of the table, and only two spots above relegation, Mainz have several areas they need to address. Their defensive anchor, Abdou Diallo, now plays for Dortmund and they still haven’t brought in a replacement. They brought in Jean-Philippe to help address the goal scoring, but he won’t be ready to contribute right away. If they want to stay in the Bundesliga, then they will need their players to step up and contribute.
13. FC Nürnberg
2017/18 finish: 2nd (Bundesliga 2)
Transfers In: Kevin Goden, Törles Knöll, Christian Mathenia
Transfers Out: Kevin Möhwald
FC Nürnberg is the other team that secured top flight football last season and unlike Düsseldorf, they have been a lot less active in the transfer window and look like they will be rolling out the same team that was a force in Bundesliga 2 last season. They return four goal scorers that each had at least 6 goals last season, and they were one of the top defensive teams in the second-tier last season. If their can prove they’re up to the task of top-flight football then a mid-table finish might be achievable. More likely than not they will be fighting the relegation battle.
2017/18 finish: 6th
Transfers In: Matheus Cunha, Nordi Mukiele
Transfers Out: Bernardo, Vitaly Janelt, Anthony Jung, Dominik Kaiser, Naby Keita, Benno Schmitz
After finishing 2nd in their first ever season in the top flight, Leipzig could not follow up the magic and barely qualified for the Europa League. The extra Champions League fixtures proved taxing on their players and their inexperience in Europe prevented them from advancing past the group stage. While they lose several players, the only significant loss is Naby Keita. With all other significant contributors returning and now having added some experience through both the Champions League and the World Cup, a strong campaign is the least Leipzig can expect. If Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg can recapture their form from their first campaign and Jean-Kévin Augustin can become even more potent in front of goal, expect Leipzig to become a force to be reckoned with.
2017/18 finish: 2nd
Transfers In: Omar Mascarell, Salif Sane, Suat Serdar, Steven Skrzybski, Mark Uth
Transfers Out: Leon Goretzka, Benedikt Höwedes, Max Meyer, Bernhard Tekpetey
With a 2nd place finish last year, from an outside view it would seem Schalke would be gearing up to challenge Bayern’s throne; it’s a lot more complicated than that. Gone is Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, once looked at as their midfield of the future, both gone on free transfers. Meyer heads to the Premier League, while Goretzka heads to Bayern Munich. While defense remains the team’s strongest area, it also highlights an area of concern; their anchor, Naldo, while he is a force to be reckoned with, is 35, and was the team’s second leading goal scorer last year. Matiji Nastastic ended the year with an injury and still has no date set for a return, and Benedikt Höwedes now plays for Lokomotiv Moscow. They also have Champions League fixtures this year, and with two of their mainstays in attack last year, in Meyer and Goretzka, now playing for different teams, Schalke has a massive challenge in matching last year’s accomplishments.
2017/18 finish: 7th
Transfers In: Gonzalo Castro, Daniel Didavi, Nicolas Gonzalez, Marc-Oliver Kempf, David Kopacz, Roberto Massimo, Bruno Sosa
Transfers Out: Daniel Ginczek, Julian Green, Matthias Zimmerman, Jean Zimmer
After barely missing out on Europa League play, Stuggart can now completely focus on the league. The added an experienced and proven player in Daniel Didavi in the midfield, and if Gonzalo Castro can prove he’s not washed up, then that just adds to their depth at midfield. The defense is incredibly strong, having only conceded a total of 36 goals the entire season, second best in the league. The main area of concern remains the offense. With Mario Gomez in the twilight of his career, and Daniel Ginczek now playing for Wolfsburg (last seasons leading goal scorers) Stuggart should still be looking to bring in a forward that can produce. Didavi helps the problem, but shouldn’t be viewed as an answer. If Stuggart can bring in a proven goalscorer, or someone on the current roster steps up they will be locks for European soccer in the 2019/20 season.
17. Werder Bremen
2017/18 finish: 11th
Transfers In: Felix Beijmo, Martin Harnik, Davy Klaassen, Kevin Möhwald, Yuya Osako, Claudio Pizarro
Transfers Out: Thomas Delaney, Fallou Diagne, Jerome Gondrof, Zlatko Junuzovic, Laszlo Kleinheisler, Eric Oelschlägel, Lennart Thy
Werder Bremen haven’t done a whole lot improving their current situation in the Bundesliga. Despite a mid-table finish, gone are key contributors Thomas Delaney, Zlatko Junuzovic, and Ishak Belfodil. They’ve brought in some immediate contributors with transfers for Martin Harnik and Yuya Osako, and if Davy Klaasen can prove that he still has the potential to be a special player, then Werder Bremen might be able to challenge for a place in Europe. If their transfers flop, then they might be in danger of falling down the pecking order and into further irrelevance.
2017/18 finish: 16th
Transfers In: Daniel Ginczek, Felix Klaus, Pavao Pervan, Marcel Tisserand, Wout Weghorst
Transfers Out: Daniel Didavi
For the second season in a row, Wolfsburg have had to play their way into the Bundesliga after finishing 16th last season and the previous. Ever since Kevin de Bruyne left for Manchester City, Wolfsburg have lacked a creative force up front, and it’s shown. They’ve continually failed to bring in quality players, be it through the transfer market or through the youth system. For them to succeed and remain in the Bundesliga they need to their goalscoring and work on consistency. After selling Daniel Didavi they lose their top goalscorer (who only managed 9 goals in 30 games) as well as their top assister. They need to find someone that will bring creativity to the team. Enter Wout Weghorst. He netted 27 times and assisted another 3 for AZ Alkmaar season in the Eredivisie, and while the Bundesliga is a step up, if he hits the ground running Wolfsburg might manage a mid-table finish instead of scrambling to stay in the league.