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German Bundesliga season preview: All eyes on Bayern as Dortmund, RB Leipzig chase the champs

Another season, another Bundesliga title for Bayern Munich.

That has been the story for the last seven seasons in the German Bundesliga, but Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig will be favored to give the Bavarian giants a run for their money in 2019-20.

Niko Kovac has plenty of talent remaining in his squad despite Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery’s departure. Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman will all headline the attack as Bayern seeks an eighth-consecutive top-flight crown.

Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig will be expected to be up near the top of the table with several stars of their own to choose from. Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard are the marquee talents for Dortmund, while Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen lead the line for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.

FC Koln, Paderborn, and Union Berlin won promotion to the Bundesliga and will try to avoid any quick stays. All three will have to fight for every point if they want to stay in the top-flight heading into next summer.

Here is SBI’s full 2019/20 season preview for the German Bundesliga:


Transfers In: Caiuby (Grasshoppers Zurich, end of loan), Marvin Friedrich (Union Berlin), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Julian Günther-Schmidt (Carl Zeiss Jena, end of loan), Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt, end of loan), Iago (Internacional), Florian Niederlechner (Freiburg), Mads Pedersen (Nordsjaelland), Reece Oxford (West Ham United), Tim Rieder (Darmstadt, end of loan), Noah Sarenren Bazee (Hannover), Marek Suchy (Basel), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Düsseldorf, end of loan), Ruben Vargas (FC Luzern)

Transfers Out: Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker (released), Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt), Christoph Janker (released), Dong-Won Ji (Mainz), Gregor Kobel (Hoffenheim, end of loan), Reece Oxford (West Ham United, end of loan), Jonathan Schmid (Freiburg), Konstantinos Stafylidis (Hoffenheim).

Player to Watch: Carlos Gruezo made the switch to Augsburg from FC Dallas and should add a versatile piece to the team’s midfield. Gruezo can cover plenty of ground and is physical enough to deal with some of the Bundesliga’s top creative midfielders.

Outlook: Augsburg finished four points clear of the bottom three last season and have plenty of attacking talent returning. They should have enough to improve up to 10th-12th this season.

Bayer Leverkusen

Transfers In: Nadiem Amiri (Hoffenheim), Kerem Demirbay (Hoffenheim), Niklas Lomb (Sandhausen, end of loan), Tomasz Kucz (Dunajska Streda, end of loan), Moussa Diaby (Paris Saint-Germain), Daley Sinkgraven (Ajax).

Transfers Out: Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Anderlecht, end of loan), Thorsten Kirschbaum (VVV-Venlo), Sam Schreck (Groningen).

Player to Watch: Kai Havertz broke out last season with 20 goals in all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen. Now with a strong season under his belt, the 20-year-old German will try to help his team compete for a trophy.

Outlook: Leverkusen finished fourth last season, ending the season on a six-match unbeaten run. They will have European action in midweek so depth will be key if they want to jump into the top three.

Bayern Munich

Transfers In: Fiete Arp (Hamburg), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart).

Transfers Out: Frank Evina (KFC Uerdingen, loan), Adrian Fein (Hamburg, loan), Marco Friedl (Werder Bremen, loan deal made permanent), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Wooyeong Jeong (Freiburg), Rafinha (Flamengo), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid, end of loan), Franck Ribery (end of contract), Arjen Robben (end of contract).

Player to Watch: Serge Gnabry had a solid 13-goal, six-assist haul last season and will try to follow that up this year. The German may be asked to do more if Bayern want to run away with the Bundesliga title rather than deal with Borussia Dortmund until the final weekend.

Outlook: Expect Bayern to be tested by the likes of Dortmund and RB Leipzig but with their talent they should be able to claim another league and cup crown. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery gone, expect some younger players to be forced to step up.

Borussia Dortmund

Transfers In: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Alexander Isak (Willem II, end of loan), Shinji Kagawa (Besiktas, end of loan), Mateu Morey (Barcelona), Felix Passlack (Norwich City, end of loan), Tobias Raschl (promoted from youth team), Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim), Andre Schürrle (Fulham, end of loan), Jeremy Toljan (Celtic, end of loan), Luca Unbehaun (promoted from youth team).

Transfers Out: Dzenis Burnic (Dynamo Dresden, loan), Abdou Diallo (Paris Saint-Germain), Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad), Felix Passlack (Fortuna Sittard, loan) Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Sebastian Rode (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan deal made permanent), Andre Schürrle (Spartak Moscow, loan), Jeremy Toljan (U.S. Sassuolo, loan).

Player to Watch: Jadon Sancho is one if the top players in Germany right now and the 19-year-old will be closely watched by other teams in the division. His production was impressive last season, but lets see if he can follow up in 2019-20.

Outlook: Dortmund will push Bayern all the way this season, but may fall just short due to Bayern’s experience of winning. Expect them to finish second once again.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Transfers In: Deji Beyreuther (Chemnitzer FC, end of loan), Danny Blum (Las Palmas, end of loan), Marijan Cavar (NK Osijek, end of loan), Erik Durm (Huddersfield), Martin Hinteregger (Augsburg), Dejan Joveljic (Red Star Belgrade), Luka Jovic (Benfica, loan deal made permanent), Daichi Kamada (St. Truiden, end of loan), Noel Knothe (FC Pipinsried, end of loan), Dominik Kohr (Bayer Leverkusen), Filip Kostic (Hamburg, loan deal made permanent), Nicolai Müller (Hannover, end of loan), Sebastian Rode (Borussia Dortmund, loan deal made permanent), Djibril Sow (Young Boys) Felix Wiedwald (Duisburg, end of loan), Rodrigo Zalazar (Malaga).

Transfers Out: Aymen Barkok (Fortuna Düsseldorf, loan extended), Danny Blum (Bochum), Sebastien Haller (West Ham United), Mischa Häuser (FSV Frankfurt), Martin Hinteregger (Augsburg, end of loan), Branimir Hrgota (out of contract), Luka Jovic (Real Madrid), Noel Knothe (promoted from youth team), Nelson Mandela Mbouhom (end of contract), Andersson Ordonez (LDU Quito), Tobias Stirl (Wolfsburg reserves), Kevin Trapp (Paris St. Germain, end of loan), Jetro Willems (Newcastle United, loan), Rodrigo Zalazar (Korona Kielce, loan).

Player to Watch: With Luka Jovic and Sebastian Haller gone, Ante Rebic has become even more important for Eintracht Frankfurt. His 10 goals last season proves he can still score, but he may be asked to up that number with two key players gone in attack.

Outlook: Frankfurt will dip in goals scored which could see them miss out on a top-seven finish. They will remain in the top ten however.

Fortuna Dusseldorf

Transfers In: Nana Ampomah (Waasland-Beveren), Lewis Baker (Chelsea, loan), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan extended), Johannes Bühler (VfR Aalen, end of loan), Gökhan Gül (Wehen Wiesbaden, end of loan), Emmanuel Iyoha (Erzgebirge Aue, end of loan), Florian Kastenmeier (VfB Stuttgart II), Dawid Kownacki (Sampdoria, loan), Havard Nielsen (Duisburg, end of loan), Thomas Pledl (Ingolstadt), Zack Steffen (Manchester City, loan), Markus Suttner (loan deal made permanent), Jannick Theißen (professional contract), Erik Thommy (VfB Stuttgart, loan).

Transfers Out: Marvin Ducksch (Hannover), Kianz Froese (released), Gökhan Gül (SV Wehen Wiesbaden, loan extended), Emmanuel Iyoha (Holstein Kiel, loan), Marcin Kaminski (VfB Stuttgart, end of loan), Dodi Lukebakio (Watford, end of loan), Takashi Usami (Augsburg, end of loan)

Player to Watch: Zack Steffen’s arrival gives Dusseldorf a talented young goalkeeper who can start immediately. Due to Michael Rensing’s preseason injury, expect Steffen to get the starting job.

Outlook: Dusseldorf finished 10th last season but with plenty of teams rebuilding behind them in the table, they may drop a few spots this season. Defensively they have to tighten it up after a -16 goal differential.

SC Freiburg

Transfers In: Jonas Föhrenbach (Jahn Regensburg, end of loan), Gian-Luca Itter (Wolfsburg), Wooyeong Jeong (Bayern Munich), Changhoon Kwon (FCO Dijon), Yoric Ravet (Grasshoppers Zurich, end of loan), Jonathan Schmid (Augsburg), Vincent Sierro (St. Gallen, end of loan), Fabian Schleusener (Sandhausen, end of loan).

Transfers Out: Jonas Föhrenbach (Heidenhiem), Constantin Frommann (Sonnenhof Großaspach, loan), Vincenzo Grifo (Hoffenheim, end of loan), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Florian Niederlechner (Augsburg), Chima Okoroji (Regensburg, loan), Fabian Schleusener (Nuremberg), Keven Schlotterbeck (Union Berlin, loan), Vincent Sierro (Young Boys), Pascal Stenzel (VfB Stuttgart, loan)

Player to Watch: 25-year-old defender Dominique Heintz made 36 appearances last season for Freiburg and will be important if the team wants to avoid conceding plenty of goals. He is young and experienced.

Outlook: Freiburg fought off relegation but could find it tough if they don’t find more goalscorers. Nils Petersen and Luca Waldschmidt are experienced but younger players have to be ready to go.

Hertha Berlin

Transfers In: Julian Albrecht (promoted from youth team), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Alexander Esswein (VfB Stuttgart, end of loan), Sidney Friede (Royal Mouscron, end of loan), Marko Grujic (Liverpool, loan), Muhammed Kiprit (Wacker Innsbruck, end of loan), Nils Körber (VfL Osnabrück, end of loan), Eduard Löwen (Nuremberg), Dodi Lukebakio (Watford), Maximilian Pronichev (Hallescher FC, end of loan), Daishawn Redan (Chelsea)

Transfers Out: Marius Gersbeck (Karlsruhe), Julius Kade (Union Berlin), Jonathan Klinsmann (St. Gallen), Valentino Lazaro (Inter Milan), Derrick Luckassen (PSV Eindhoven, end of loan), Fabian Lustenberger (Young Boys).

Player to Watch: Marko Grujic returns from Liverpool which provides Berlin with an experienced and young option. With Salomon Kalou now 33 years old, Grujic may be groomed for the future.

Outlook: Hertha Berlin can get into the top ten but need to be better at the Olympiastadion. They earned more points on the road last season compared to at home which needs to change.

TSG Hoffenheim

Transfers In: Sargis Adamyan (Jahn Regensburg), Kevin Akpoguma (Hannover, end of loan), Ihlas Bebou (Hannover), Antonio Colak (Rijeka, end of loan), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg, end of loan), Justin Hoogma (St. Pauli, end of loan), Gregor Kobel (Augsburg, end of loan), Franko Kovacevic (NK Rudes), Havard Nordtveit (Fulham, end of loan), Philipp Ochs (Aalborg, end of loan), Philipp Pentke (Jahn Regensburg), Sebastian Rudy (Schalke, loan), Konstantinos Stafylidis (Augsburg), Robert Skov (Copenhagen), Steven Zuber (VfB Stuttgart, end of loan), Robert Zulj (Union Berlin, end of loan)

Transfers Out: Alfons Amade (Eintracht Braunschweig, loan), Nadiem Amiri (Bayer Leverkusen), Antonio Colak (Rijeka, loan deal made permanent), Kerem Demirbay (Bayer Leverkusen), Robin Hack (Nuremberg), Joelinton (Newcastle United), Gregor Kobel (VfB Stuttgart, loan), Reiss Nelson (Arsenal, end of loan), David Otto (Heidenheim, loan), Felipe Pires (Fortaleza, loan), Nico Schulz (Borussia Dortmund).

Player to Watch: 27-year-old Algerian striker Ishak Belfodil had 17 goals in all competitions last season and will be expected to follow it up this year. Paired with Andrej Kramaric, these two could be one of the Bundesliga’s underrated attacking duos.

Outlook: With Julian Nagelsmann out, Hoffenheim may struggle slightly this season. Top 10 is a good goal but if the attack continues to provide goals, they can inch into the top seven.

FC Koln

Transfers In: Kingsley Ehizibue (PEC Zwolle), Sehrou Guirassy (Amiens, end of loan), Tim Handwerker (Groningen, end of loan), Julian Krahl (RB Leipzig), Joao Queiros (Sporting Lisbon, loan), Kingsley Schindeler (Holstein Kiel), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier), Birger Verstraete (Gent)

Transfers Out: Jan-Christoph Bartels (Wehen Wiesbaden, loan), Tim Handwerker (Nuremberg), Matthias Lehmann (retired)

Player to Watch: Simon Terodde led Koln with 29 goals last season, but needs to carry that confidence over to the top flight. If he can scored 10-15 goals then Koln may have a good chance of finishing away from the bottom three.

Outlook: Newly promoted sides have to score goals and Koln has three good options in attack. Defensively they need to avoid blowouts to the top sides in order to remain confident about staying up. Koln should have enough to do it.

FSV Mainz

Transfers In: Cyrill Akono (Preußen Münster), Edmilson Fernandes (West Ham), Omer Hanin (Hapoel Hadera), Dong-Won Ji (Augsburg), Aaron Martin (Espanyol Barcelona, loan made permanent), Jonathan Meier (Bayern Munich reserves), Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel (AS Monaco), Jose Rodriguez (Fortuna Sittard, end of loan), Aaron Seydel (Holstein Kiel, end of loan), Marin Sverko (Karlsruhe, end of loan).

Transfers Out: Rene Adler (retired), Issah Abass (FC Utrecht, loan), Emil Berggreen (released), Niko Bungert (retired), Gaetan Bussmann (released), Giulio Donati (released), Jean-Phlippe Gbamin (Everton), Gerrit Holtmann (Paderborn, loan), Jannik Huth (Paderborn), Anthony Ujah (Union Berlin)

Player to Watch: 22-year-old Jean-Philippe Mateta broke onto the scene with 14 goals last season for Mainz and will be counted on to do more of the same this season. The Frenchman is still young, but has already proven he can find the back of the net in the first division.

Outlook: Mainz finished comfortably away from the bottom three and will need to replicate their home form to do that again. An 8-5-4 home record played big dividends for the club and if they do that again they can finish in the top 12.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Transfers In: Laszlo Benes (Holstein Kiel, end of loan), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Max Grün (Darmstadt), Jacob Italiano (Perth Glory, end of loan), Stefan Lainer (Red Bull Salzburg), Marcus Thuram (Guingamp).

Transfers Out: Josip Drmic (Norwich City), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Moritz Nicolas (Union Berlin, loan).

Player to Watch: Yann Sommer is a veteran keeper who is one of the tops in the Bundesliga. The 30-year-old Swiss international came up with big saves for the club last season and can carry his side to a victory if need be.

Outlook: Top seven is a realistic goal for Gladbach who will try to start life positively without Thorgan Hazard in attack. Raffael and Alassane Plea headline the attack, while Matthias Ginter is experienced in the heart of defense. They will need to play well against the big boys though if they want to improve on last season’s finish.

SC Paderborn

Transfers In: Cauly (Duisburg), Felix Drinkuth (SF Lotte, end of loan), Johannes Dörfler (Uerdingen), Julius Düker (Eintracht Braunschweig, end of loan), Marcel Hilßner (Hansa Rostock), Gerrit Holtmann (Mainz, loan), Rifet Kapic (Grasshoppers Zürich) Luca Kilian (Borussia Dortmund II), Streli Mamba (Energie Cottbus), Luca Pfeiffer (VfL Osnabrück, end of loan), Phillip Tietz (Carl Zeiss Jena, end of loan), Laurent Jans (FC Metz)

Transfers Out: Lukas Boeder (end of contract), Felix Drinkuth (Hellischer FC), Sergio Gucciardo (Alemannia Aachen, loan), Felix Herzenbruch (Rot-Weiss Essen), Philipp Klement (VfB Stuttgart), Bernard Tekpetey (Schalke), Philipp Tietz (Wehen Wiesbaden)

Player to Watch: 29-year-old Sven Michel bagged 16 points last season for Paderborn to help the club earn promotion. A veteran in Germany, Michel stepped up to the plate with 25 more appearances from the prior year. His playmaking ability will be huge if Paderborn want to avoid a quick drop.

Outlook: It will be tough for Paderborn to avoid a relegation fight, but they luckily have players who can score. The lack of a double-digit goalscoring striker doesn’t help their cause, so midfielders will need to play a major role in that area.

RB Leipzig

Transfers In: Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea, loan), Luan Candido (Palmeiras), Frederik Jäkel (promoted from youth team), Ademola Lookman (Everton), Christopher Nkunku (Paris Saint-Germain), Philipp Tschauner (Hannover), Hannes Wolf (Red Bull Salzburg).

Transfers Out: Bruma (PSV Eindhoven), Julian Krahl (Cologne), Erik Majetschak (Erzgebirge Aue), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal, end of loan).

Player to Watch: RB Leipzig now has one of the top young managers in European football with Julian Nagelsmann taking over for Ralf Rangnick. Timo Werner is important for the club, but Yussuf Poulsen’s strong campaign last season was just as important going forward. The Danish international bagged 18 goals last season and could eclipse 20 if he continues to grow.

Outlook: Leipzig will compete for the league title, but they need to avoid slip-ups to teams behind them in the table. Losses to Freiburg, Werder Bremen, and Wolfsburg were examples of that which cost them a chance at second place and beyond.

Schalke 04

Transfers In: Jonas Carls (Schalke reserves), Jonjoe Kenny (Everton, loan), Pablo Insua (Huesca, end of loan), Ozan Kabak (VfB Stuttgart), Benito Raman (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Fabian Reese (Greuther Fürth, end of loan), Markus Schubert (Dynamo Dresden), Bernard Tekpetey (Paderborn)

Transfers Out: Jeffrey Bruma (Wolfsburg, end of loan), Breel Embolo (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Benjamin Goller (Werder Bremen), Sascha Riether (retired), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim, loan), Bernard Tekpetey (Fortuna Düsseldorf, loan), Cedric Teuchert (Hannover, loan), Ralf Fährmann (Norwich City, loan), George Timotheou (Zulte Waregem), Haji Wright (VVV-Venlo)

Player to Watch: 24-year-old Benito Raman comes in from Dusseldorf to hopefully give Schalke a double-digit goalscoring option. After bagging 11 goals in all comps last season, the Belgian comes to Gelsenkirchen fighting for starts up top.

Outlook: Schalke’s defense was horrid last season and they need to be more competitive in the backline to avoid a relegation battle. They finished last in the Bundesliga with a 4-3-10 home record last season and need to help themselves out with better performances at home. Schalke should be fighting for a top 10 finish.

Union Berlin

Transfers In: Suleiman Abdullahi (Eintracht Braunschweig), Robert Andrich (Heidenheim), Sheraldo Becker (Den Haag), Marius Bülter (Magdeburg, loan), Lars Dietz (Sportfreunde Lotte, end of loan), Florian Flecker (Hartberg), Marvin Friedrich (Augsburg), Christian Gentner (VfB Stuttgart), Marcus Ingvartsen (Genk), Cihan Kahraman (Fürstenwalde, end of loan), Julius Kade (Hertha Berlin), Peter Kurzweg (Würzburger Kickers, end of loan), Keven Schlotterbeck (Freiburg, loan), Manuel Schmiedebach (Hannover), Neven Subotic (Saint Etienne), Anthony Ujah (Mainz).

Transfers Out: Suleiman Abdullahi (Eintracht Braunschweig, end of loan), Marcel Hartel (Arminia Bielefeld), Carlos Mane (Sporting Lisbon, end of loan), Lennart Moser (Energie Cottbus, loan), Berkan Taz (Energie Cottbus, loan), Robert Zulj (Hoffenheim, end of loan).

Player to Watch: Swedish forward Sebastian Andersson led the team with 13 goals in all competitions last season and has to carry that over in 2019-20. Union Berlin does not have plenty of top-flight experience on the roster so Andersson may be forced to carry the load offensively.

Outlook: Looking at the roster, Union Berlin doesn’t have enough to remain the Bundesliga. However, that could change if they are solid defensively and good enough to score consistently. Expect them to finish near the bottom, but a bad first-half could spell turmoil in the winter time.

Werder Bremen

Transfers In: Robert Bauer (Nuremberg, end of loan), Benjamin Goller (Schalke), Marco Friedl (Bayern Munich, loan made permanent), Niclas Füllkrug (Hannover), Ilia Gruev (promoted from youth team), Luc Ihorst (promoted from youth team), Kyuhyon Park (Ulsan Hyundai, loan), David Philipp (promoted from youth team), Romano Schmid (Wolfsberger AC, end of loan), Niklas Schmidt (Wehen Wiesbaden, end of loan), Simon Straudi (professional contract), Michael Zetterer (Austria Klagenfurt, end of loan)

Transfers Out: Boubacar Barry (Uerdingen, loan), Jan-Nicklas Beste (FC Emmen, loan), Thore Jacobsen (Magdeburg), Aron Johansson (end of contract), Ole Käuper (Carl Zeiss Jena, loan), Max Kruse (end of contract), Thanos Petsos (end of contract), Romano Schmid (Wolfsberger AC, loan), Niklas Schmidt (VfL Osnabrück, loan), Luca Zander (St. Pauli, loan made permanent), Michael Zetterer (PEC Zwolle, loan)

Player to Watch: Josh Sargent may not have appeared as much as he would’ve liked last season for Bremen’s first team, but after a strong preseason looks ready to help this campaign. Sargent brings youth and something new to the Bremen attack which could help after Max Kruse’s departure this summer.

Outlook: Bremen has what it takes to finish in the top-seven and should be able to. A variety of different attacking weapons could help Florian Kohfeldt come up with new ideas to get after the big boys in Germany.

VfL Wolfsburg

Transfers In: Jeffrey Bruma (Schalke, end of loan), Kevin Mbabu (Young Boys), Lukas Nmecha (Manchester City, loan), Victor Osimhen (RSC Charleroi, end of loan), Paulo Otavio (Ingolstadt), Paul Seguin (Greuther Fürth, end of loan), Joao Victor (Linzer ASK), Xaver Schlager (RB Salzburg).

Transfers Out: Riechedly Bazoer (Vitesse Arnhem), Vitesse Landry Dimata (Anderlecht, loan deal made permanent), Gian-Luca Itter (Freiburg), Sebastian Jung (Hannover), Victor Osimhen (RSC Charleroi, loan deal made permanent), Paul Seguin (Greuther Fürth, loan deal made permanent), Marvin Stefaniak (loan), Paul Verhaegh (Twente).

Player to Watch: Wout Weghorst scored 18 goals in all comps for Wolfsburg and is one of the top strikers in Germany. The Dutch forward will look to carry the load once again for Wolfsburg who will seek a move up the standings come seasons end.

Outlook: With Weghorst in attack, Maxi Arnold and Admir Mehmedi in midfield, and John Brooks and Robin Knoche in defense, Wolfsburg have talented everywhere on the pitch. To make improvement though they need to play better against the likes of Bayern, Dortmund, and RB Leipzig, all whom they lost to in the spring.

Who is your favorite to win the Bundesliga this season? Which player are you most excited to watch? Which teams will be relegated to the second tier? Who will be the biggest threat to Bayern Munich?

Share your thoughts below.

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