Fixture of New Season 2018/2019 READ MORE
Five reasons to be excited about the 2018/19 Bundesliga season
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a nice distraction, but we all know it has just been filling that long wait between the final Matchday of one Bundesliga campaign and the opening game of the next.
Why should you be on the edge of your seat for the 2018/19 Bundesliga season? The answer is simple: Because it's the most exciting, best-supported club football Europe boasts.
But if you still need more convincing, bundesliga.com has picked out five reasons why you should be frantically counting down the days until the opening match on 24 August.
1) Opening day extravaganza
BOOM!!! Bet you never knew raising a curtain could be so dramatic, but there is no doubt the 2018/19 season explodes into life with breathtaking drama from day one. Bayern Munich begin their title defence at home to Hoffenheim, who will be hoping for a positive response to the question of whether they have closed the gap to the record champions.
Schalke, runners-up last season, will share that ambition as Domenico Tedesco starts a second campaign in charge with a trip to Wolfsburg. Mouth watering yet How about getting your teeth into Borussia Dortmund — new-look and talent-charged under Lucien Favre - and their home opener against RB Leipzig while Borussia Mönchengladbach play host to Bayer Leverkusen in a Rhine derby? Happy yet? Yes, thought so.
2) Second season success syndrome
It is always hard to follow up success with yet more, but there is no reason to suggest the men who embroidered the colourful narrative of the 2017/18 season will not weave their magic once again. Step forward James Rodriguez. The Colombia international was stunningly reborn at Bayern last term, and in the second 12 months of his two-year loan from Real Madrid, he will seek to be just as impressively influential.
Tedesco's maiden season at the Veltins Arena was an unqualified success, one that he will want to back up in the same way his former classmate, Julian Nagelsmann, has done at Hoffenheim. With Mark Uth, fresh from his breakthrough Bundesliga season, in the Royal Blues ranks, you would not bet against that happening.
Werder Bremen were one of the largest surprise packages of last season with new coach Florian Kohfeldt earning plaudits in his first major role and goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka keeping enough clean sheets to spawn numerous puns about blank Czechs. More should be expected.
3) Dugout differences
There is nothing better than the bright sunshine, luscious pitches and overpowering whiff of optimism that a new season brings. The ambitions of clubs and fans differ, and some have more reason than most to be optimistic. Yes, we're looking at you Bayern! Niko Kovac now holds the reins at the Allianz Arena, but his remit will be the same as Jupp Heynckes' before him: dominate domestically. Kovac's pedigree as a former Bayern player means he is fully aware of expectations, while his past as a coach, notably at Eintracht Frankfurt, suggests he has the nous to meet them.
Favre's track record with Hertha Berlin and Gladbach means Dortmund supporters will flock to the Signal Iduna Park with eyes as bright as the yellow of their club's famed shirts. The Swiss tactician enjoyed beyond-his-means success in both his prior Bundesliga appointments and set Marco Reus on the road to football superstardom while the pair were together at Gladbach. With the most talented squad he has ever coached now at his disposal, the prospect of what Favre could do with BVB is heart-stopping.
Ralf Rangnick's return to the dugout as he fills both the sporting director and coaching roles at Leipzig could feel like a stop-gap measure with Nagelsmann already pencilled in for the 2019/20 season. But the former Schalke, Hoffenheim and VfB Stuttgart boss has an important job in laying the groundwork for his young disciple to build on, and as he is the man who has shaped the squad with signings, he will be keen to show his eye for talent remains hawk-like honed.
4) New terrace idols
There will be a number of new faces in the freshly pressed shirts clubs will wear for the 2018/19 season with fans squinting through the sunshine to try and pick out the players who will become their new heroes.
Bayern supporters have had some time to get used to the idea of Leon Goretzka playing for them as his move was announced in January, and the Germany international has the potential to become a Munich megastar; the same can be said of Renato Sanches, who will feel like a new signing when he returns from a season-long loan at Swansea City, while the same goes for Serge Gnabry, borrowed by Hoffenheim last season.
Dortmund have been busy giving Favre the raw materials he needs to build a competitive side. The foundations were already there, but the addition of Thomas Delaney to stiffen midfield, the excellent Abdou Diallo to reinforce the back four and Marius Wolf to add still more creative spark have made it a fruitful summer already.
In addition to Uth, Schalke have strengthened with the arrivals of Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar, while Lukas Hradecky — one of the league's best goalkeepers in recent seasons — will surely admirably fill the gloves vacated by Bernd Leno at Leverkusen.
5) Best breeding ground ever
The Bundesliga's billing as the premier league for fledgling talent is well deserved, and the 2018/19 season promises to see another gifted generation steal the show.
After Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, will the USA soon have yet another young star in Germany? It looks like Josh Sargent will be the next headline-grabbing USA international to break the Bundesliga. Bremen coach Kohfeldt revealed he was in no hurry to find a striker in the summer transfer window because the Missouri-born teenager is "ready to kick on" after signing a pro contract with the club when he turned 18 in February.
No doubt emboldened by the success of Jadon Sancho at Dortmund last season, the English youngster's former Manchester City teammates, Javairo Dilrosun and Pablo Maffeo, have joined Hertha and Stuttgart respectively while Gladbach will be looking to Keanen Bennetts to deliver on his potential after snapping him up from Tottenham Hotspur.
Youngsters at English clubs are not the only ones to see the Bundesliga's grass as greener with exciting French full-back Nordin Mukiele swapping Montpellier for Leipzig, Felix Beijmo teaming up with fellow Swedish full-back Ludwig Augustinsson at Bremen, and promising forward Jean-Philippe Mateta — the oldest of the three at just 21 — joining Mainz from Lyon.
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