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FEATURE | 2022/23 Bundesliga Preview – Team by Team

Your 2022/23 Bundesliga season preview, by Get German Football News.

Augsburg

Augsburg finished in 14th place last season and just five points outside the relegation places. One of the biggest reasons they didn’t face the drop was their top goalscorer Michael Gregoritsch with nine goals. Seven of the nine goals came in the second half of the season which just about kept the team out of danger. However, Augsburg let Gregoritsch go this summer in a straight swap for Freiburg striker Ermedin Demirović.

Demirović was nothing more than a supplementary player for Freiburg last season. Having played 31 games in the Bundesliga in 2021/22 (mostly off the bench), the Bosnian scored just two goals and provided three assists. It’s clear that the 24-year-old forward will have big boots to fill at Augsburg. It’s unsure how Demirović will perform when given a regular chance. Augsburg’s sporting director Stefan Reuter is confident in their signing. “We’re delighted that Ermedin Demirović has chosen to join FCA because he believes this is the best place for a young player to develop,” said Reuter.

However, developing and delivering are two completely different things. It’s a massive gamble for a club that struggled for goals last term and finished on -17 goal difference and it’s possibly too much of a gamble and could result in relegation.

Union Berlin

A fifth-place finish, earning another season in Europe, makes the 2021/22 campaign a major success for Union Berlin. They’ll be hoping to establish further consistency domestically with a similar finish.

Thanks to winning six of their last seven games, Die Eisernen hurtled their way into qualifying for Europa League football. Urs Fischer’s side was particularly dominant at home, losing just three matches in all competitions. Despite losing talisman Max Kruse midway through the year, the team were able to step up and score without him, which helped propel them on their surge up the table. Combined with the third-best league tally for fewest goals conceded, Fischer has found a successful formula in making Union a difficult team to beat.

Losing top scorer Taiwo Awoniyi to Nottingham Forest this summer will be a huge blow. His 15 league goals will be hard to replace, especially with the club’s second-highest scorer Grischa Prömel also leaving for Hoffenheim. It suggests the team will need Sheraldo Becker to improve his finishing in front of goal, alongside new recruit Jordan Siebatcheu, who has joined from BSC Young Boys. Their ability to score regularly will be crucial for Die Eisernen’s fortunes this season.

Additionally, starting goalkeeper Andreas Luthe has left for 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, with Frederik Rønnow set to take over in goal. Further upfield, defender Timo Baumgartl has returned on loan from PSV, while midfielders Janik Haberer and Miloš Pantović have also arrived to bolster the squad.

Having shown they can balance out European football commitments with steady form in the league, Union should be aiming for another top-half finish at the minimum. How far high up the table they can go, will come down to the success of Becker and Siebatcheu in front of goal. With their defence likely to remain just as solid, Fischer will be hoping his team can be clinical in attack to push for a top-seven finish.

Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin narrowly avoided relegation into the 2. Bundesliga last season after overturning their 1-0 first-leg defeat against Hamburg in the playoff, securing their Bundesliga status under Felix Magath. Niko Kovac was a favourite to return to Berlin but heading into the 2022/23 season, Hertha appointed former Mainz and Dynamo Moscow head coach Sandro Schwarz, who faces the monumental task of keep the capital club in the top flight. The 43-year-old coached Mainz between 2017 and 2019 before moving to Russia after nearly a year out of management. Schwarz is Hertha’s seventh coach since November 2019.

Perhaps the highest profile departure this summer is Niklas Stark. The 27-year-old central-defender joined Werder Bremen on a free transfer after 199 games across all competitions for the capital club after seven seasons. There’s been a high turnover of players at Hertha. Both Alexander Schwolow and Marcel Lotka have departed, leaving Hertha with Oliver Christensen and Rune Jarstein in goal. Arne Maier, Jordan Torunarigha and Javairô Dilrosun have left on permanent deals after spending last season out on loan whilst Santiago Ascacíbar, Eduard Löwen and Ishak Belfodil have also departed.

Jonjoe Kenny and Filip Uremovic have joined from Everton and Rubin Kazan on free transfers whilst they’ve also brought in Chidera Ejuke and Ivan Sunjic on loan. French attacker Wilfried Kanga arrived from BSC Young Boys for €4m and he’ll be tasked with scoring the goals to keep Hertha in the Bundesliga. With less than one month until the window shuts, Hertha are struggling to shift Krzysztof Piatek and Omar Alderete.

Schwarz is already up against it after Hertha’s elimination from the DFB Pokal. After drawing 4-4, they were eliminated 6-5 on penalties against 2. Bundesliga Eintracht Braunschweig. Come September, they could already find themselves bottom of the Bundesliga with potentially zero points. Their Bundesliga campaign opens with a cross-city trip to Union Berlin before hosting Eintracht Frankfurt. Games against Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund follow and so, Hertha BSC are certainly in for a rough start.

Bochum

Bochum overachieved last season in their return to the Bundesliga, finishing 13th. Thomas Reis’ team certainly gave their fans something to shout about in 2021/22 with wins over both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. However, Bochum could succumb to the dreaded second-season syndrome.

Two high-profile players also left the club this summer. Firstly, centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap swapped Bochum for Southampton in a deal that cost the Saints just €11m. The 20-year-old played 22 games last season for Bochum and has rightfully been noted as a young talent to watch. Before signing for Southampton, Bella-Kotchap was being monitored by Manchester United. Not having this type of player in the squad could prove disastrous especially if Bochum suffer injuries.

The second departure was veteran striker Sebastian Polter. The 31-year-old forward has signed a three-year contract at Schalke 04 for just €1.5m. Polter was Bochum’s top goal scorer in 21/22 with 10 goals. This was double than the second highest scorer, Gerrit Holtmann, who found the net just five times. When the signing was announced, Schalke knew exactly what they had just obtained in Polter. Head coach Frank Kramer said “Sebastian showed last season how valuable he can be for a Bundesliga team. He works extremely hard for the team up front and his power will improve our attacking play.” Having sold their top scorer to a newly-promoted team might just be the catalyst to a poor season.

Werder Bremen

Promotion favourites, Werder Bremen were 10th after 13 games before Markus Anfang stepped down. Ole Werner replaced the former FC Köln head coach and guided SVW back into the Bundesliga at the first time of asking. Once playing regular European football between 2001 and 2010, Werder Bremen is one of Germany’s biggest clubs. Currently undergoing a rebuild with a miniscule budget, Werner is tasked with keeping the Weserstadion club in the Bundesliga.

Jens Stage joined the club from Copenhagen for €4m and offers excellent robustness in midfield. The Denmark international is joined by defensive duo Niklas Stark and Amos Pieper, both of whom have Bundesliga experience and shore up Werder’s defence. Lee Buchanan and Mitchell Weiser also join the club on free transfers and provide competition at full-back. A surprise signing this summer is that of Oliver Burke. The now 25-year-old has raked up €36.5m in transfer fees but hasn’t reached the heights that many had thought, but a sharp pre-season could see Burke become an undervalued arrival.

Werder Bremen have also kept the core of their squad together. Of note, only Ömer Toprak has left the club – he joins Antalyaspor on a free transfer. Austria international Marco Friedl replaces the Turkish defender as Werder Bremen captain. Sporting director Frank Baumann & Co. have also done an excellent job to keep Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch, the German forwards scored 39 goals and created 15 between them in the 2. Bundesliga last season. If they remain fit throughout the season, Werder Bremen shouldn’t have a problem scoring, whilst they’ve improved their defence.

Staying in the Bundesliga is an absolute bare minimum for Werder Bremen. With games against Stuttgart, Bochum and Augsburg in six of their opening games, it’s important that they start strong. With Jiri Pavlenka, Stark, Stage and Ducksch, Werner has a strong spine at his disposal and over 34 games, one that should really be enough to keep their Bundesliga status come May.

Borussia Dortmund

GGFN’s Ben McFadyean has written an excellent, in-depth Borussia Dortmund analysis, which can be read here.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Though they finished the Bundesliga season in 11th place, winning the Europa League made it a successful 2021/22 season for Eintracht Frankfurt. But while they overcame the likes of Barcelona, West Ham United and Rangers for European glory, they did however go through an alarming run of league form, failing to win any of their final eight matches.

With Champions League football to come, head coach Oliver Glasner will need to ensure his team competes on all fronts. This will be achievable if they continue to retain their star players, having kept the likes of Filip Kostić and Evan N’Dicka at the time of writing. Losing key defender Martin Hinteregger is a blow though, given his leadership qualities at the back.

Headlining the long list of new signings is Mario Götze, who returns to the Bundesliga after Die Adler paid just €4m to PSV Eindhoven for his services. The experienced attacking-midfielder should bring added excitement to the Deutsche Bank Park, joining a team of creators in Daichi Kamada, Jesper Lindstrøm and Kostić. Winger Jens Petter Hauge returns on a permanent basis from Milan, while strikers Lucas Alario and Randal Kolo Muani have joined to support Rafael Borré in attack. Kristijan Jakić also returns in central midfield, while Jérôme Onguéné arrives from Red Bull Salzburg to bolster their defensive stocks.

It will be a major surprise if Eintracht finish in the bottom-half of the table again, given their improved squad depth and quality. During the first half of last season, they coped well with the added strain of European group-stage football, so these experiences should benefit them ahead of balancing the Bundesliga with the Champions League. A top-four finish wouldn’t be a surprise, although it would be a safer bet to predict them to finish no lower than sixth.

Freiburg

After a superb season in which they qualified for European football for only the fifth season in their history, Freiburg will hope to replicate last season’s achievements.

Finishing in the top-six, as well as making the DFB Pokal final, was a season beyond most fans’ expectations. Die Breisgau-Brasilianer were one of the toughest teams to defeat in the top-flight, particularly at home as they lost just four league matches. It will be interesting to see how Christian Streich manages to balance out their Europa League commitments alongside the Bundesliga. With a good blend of experience in captain Christian Günter and Vincenzo Grifo, and youth via Kevin Schade and Jeong Woo-Yeong, the squad remains in good health. They should continue to perform well, under Streich’s guidance, who remains one of the best coaches in the league.

With their defence a key part of their success, it was to no surprise that Nico Schlotterbeck was highly sought-after, eventually being sold to Borussia Dortmund. While he will be a difficult player to replace, Freiburg surprised many by landing the signature of Matthias Ginter. Signing the Gladbach centre-back, as a free agent, is a real coup for Streich, and the German international should be a great fit for his defensive system. The other new additions should make an impact at the other end of the pitch. Japanese winger Ritsu Dōan arrives from PSV Eindhoven, having previously impressed at Arminia Bielefeld, while Augsburg’s top-scorer from last season in Michael Gregoritsch also has joined in a swap deal with Ermedin Demirović. A standout from last season’s 2. Bundesliga is Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, who has also been added to the squad from St Pauli.

Having strengthened their squad depth, Freiburg are equipped to sustain another push for European football while balancing out Thursday night Europa League football. With Streich often willing to rotate his squad to keep them fresh and competitive until the season’s end, they should be in the mix for a top-seven finish come next May.

Hoffenheim

After missing out on European football, Hoffenheim parted ways with Sebastian Hoeneß and appointed former Paderborn and Schalke head coach André Breitenreiter. The 48-year-old guided FC Zürich to the Swiss Super League last season but his appointment came as a surprise. Previously, TSG have been lauded for thinking outside of the box with the appointments of Julian Nagelsmann, now at Bayern Munich, Alfred Schreuder, now at Ajax, and Hoeneß. Instead, they’ve appointed Breitenreiter, who didn’t exactly excel during his time at Schalke.

They’ll also be without David Raum this season, who’s joined RB Leipzig for €26m. The 24-year-old created 13 goals from left-back last season and is arguably one of the Bundesliga’s best players. They’ve yet to replace Raum, which could see one of Marco John or Robert Skov play left-back in the early parts of the Bundesliga campaign. Hoffenheim are also yet to conduct significant transfer business. Ozan Kabak joins from Schalke for €7m, joining Grischa Prömel and Finn Ole Becker, who both join on free transfers.

With an opening game against Borussia Mönchengladbach and a trip to Bayer Leverkusen two weeks later, Hoffenheim are in for a tough start to their campaign. After five seasons’ of scoring double figures in the Bundesliga, Andrej Kramaric scored just six in 32 games last season. For TSG to have a successful campaign, the Croatian forward has to be scoring. Breitenreiter faces a tough task to improve on last season’s ninth place finish under Hoeneß.

FC Köln

Against all odds, FC Köln qualified for European football last season after a five-year absence. With just four games remaining, the Billy Goats even had an opportunity to qualify for Champions League football had results gone their way, but they will have to make do for the Europa Conference League. Appointed as a successor to Markus Gisdol and Friedhelm Funkel, FC Köln appointed Steffen Baumgart as their head coach last summer. They certainly overachieved with the squad that was available, but Baumgart did an excellent job of motivating his players to achieve their best. Frenchman Anthony Modeste played a large part in their return to European football, scoring 20 goals at 34-years-old.

Louis Schaub and Jannes Horn have both left the club on free transfers but the loss that FC Köln will feel the most is Salih Özcan. The 24-year-old Turkey international was reborn under Baumgart but has joined Borussia Dortmund for €5m. German youth international Eric Martel has joined the club from Austria Wien as a replacement but even with Jonas Hector and Ellyes Skhiri in the squad, Özcan’s departure will be evident. Central-midfielder Denis Huseinbasic has also joined from Kickers Offenbach for €50k.

Luca Kilian impressed and his loan from Mainz was made permanent. Kristian Pedersen also arrives from Birmingham City to provide competition in defence. To ease the goalscoring burden on Modeste, Christian Keller, Baumgart and the recruitment team signed Sargis Adamyan (Hoffenheim) and Steffen Tigges (Borussia Dortmund) for a combined €3m. Including Linton Maina on a free transfer, there’s been a lot of work off the pitch but with a DFB Pokal exit to Jahn Regensburg, there’s plenty to do on it.

Widely-respected throughout German football, Baumgart certainly overachieved in his first season as head coach of FC Köln. Whilst Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach endured sub-par campaigns, it’s unlikely that we’ll see FC Köln close to the European spots this season. The Billy Goats start their campaign against newly-promoted Schalke but face difficult trips to RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt in the games that follow.

RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig won their first major title last season when they lifted the DFB Cup in Berlin. This summer was more about keeping players at the club. For some time, the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Konrad Laimer were heavily linked to a move away from Saxony. When Nkunku signed a contract extension, it must have come as a huge relief to everyone associated with Leipzig. The Laimer situation still isn’t completely resolved going into the first game but it’s looking more and more likely that the Austrian will be playing for Leipzig for another year at least. But can the bulls go one further and actually win the Bundesliga this year?

When looking at incomings, Leipzig made two notable signings. This was Xaver Schlager from Wolfsburg and David Raum from Hoffenheim. Schlager was missing for large parts of Wolfsburg’s woeful campaign last season. The box-to-box midfielder will bring great energy to the team and provide a valuable asset when it comes to playing in Nkunku up top.

Speaking of providing assists, Raum will give you just that. For so long, it seemed that Raum would be moving to Borussia Dortmund but Leipzig came out of nowhere to sign the left-back. Raum was one of Europe’s most consistent crosses of the ball last season. With the likes of Nkunku and André Silva up top, this could cause massive amounts of trouble for opposition defenders. In terms of departures, Tyler Adams, Hee-chan Hwang, Brian Brobbey, Ademola Lookman and Nordi Mukiele left the club. Many of these weren’t regular starters and possibly won’t affect the club in comparison to some of the key squad members that could have left. Overall, it’s been a solid transfer window for Leipzig.

Expect Leipzig to be in the top four this season. Whether they have the legs to compete with Bayern remains to be seen. In the Super Cup last week, they were all over the shop in the first half. They’ll learn from that experience and should be more solid as the season progresses. I don’t believe they’ll finish inside the top two, however. Expect a 3rd or 4th place finish for the Saxons in 2022/23.

Bayer Leverkusen

It’s going to be tough for Bayer Leverkusen to challenge for the title this season. It would have to take a monumental effort and a good slice of fortune for the title to head their way. Another top four finish is certainly on the cards, however. With many exciting players at their disposal, Bayer should be a good team to watch out for this season.

First of all, Bayer have managed to keep in-from Patrik Schick who signed a contract extension this summer. What’s more, youngster Florian Wirtz extended his by one-year until 2027. Bayer Leverkusen head coach Gerardo Seoane also believes that Moussa Diaby will remain the Bundesliga club for the forthcoming season despite interest from Newcastle United and PSG. It’s signs like this that make Bayer an exciting prospect. They clearly want to build a solid side and to do so they need to keep the likes of the players mentioned whilst adding quality.

The most exciting player that was brought in this summer was forward Adam Hložek from Sparta Prague for a reported €13m plus bonuses. The Czech international will team up with fellow countryman Schick which could prove to be a great partnership this campaign.

With all this hype, it came as a bit of a surprise when Bayer lost their first round DFB Pokal match against Elversberg who were playing Regionalliga football last season. The 4-3 defeat was certainly the upset of the round and gives Bayer something to think about. It could make or break them. Against Dortmund in the first game of the season. It’s a great opportunity to set the record straight and put a maker down. Overall, Bayer have a good transfer window by simply keeping hold of their key players.

Bayer should have a fairly solid season and do have the potential to get some big wins against fellow top-four hopefuls. They may not have the consistency to lift the title but they could have a big say in where the trophy goes.

Mainz

Last season Mainz finished in an impressive eighth place and six points outside the European places. This season, however, many can’t see Mainz surpassing last season’s finish. Looking at their recent departures, particularly when it comes to their defence, it could be their undoing this season.

Mainz had a solid central defence thanks to Moussa Niakhaté and Jeremiah St. Juste. In total, Mainz only conceded 45 goals last season which was considerably less than the teams around them. However, this summer both Niakhaté and St. Juste have left the club. Niakhaté has made the switch to the Premier League with Nottingham Forest whereas St. Juste has swapped Mainz for Lisbon, joining Sporting CP. It’s no question, this is a massive blow for Mainz who will find it incredibly hard to find another solid two central defenders. In an attempt to fill the gap, Mainz signed Bochum’s Maxim Leitsch for a reported €3m. The 24-year-old does have Bundesliga experience and represents Germany at youth level. However, Leitsch isn’t of the same quality as either Niakhaté or St. Juste, just yet.

The signing of Leitsch signifies Mainz’s belief in young talent. The defender joins fellow youth internationals Jonathan Burkardt, Finn Dahmen and Anton Stach. These players certainly can become high-quality Bundesliga players. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll reach their potential for another season or so. This campaign looks like it’s going to be one of growth for Mainz which could see them slip down the table a few places.

For Mainz fans, it must be frustrating to watch these transfers unfold. Mainz had a good platform to kick on and try to bridge the gap between eighth and the European places. Instead, they’ve cashed in on two of their key assets and used some of the money to invest in youth and most likely settle for a mid-table finish.

One positive for Mainz will be forward Burkhart, who is showing great potential. He’ll be one of the young players to watch in the Bundesliga next season for sure. More so given the recent arrival of Angelo Fulgini from Angers, the attacking-midfielder will be tasked with creating goals in absence of Jean-Paul Boëtius.

However, it’s one thing to score goals and another to not concede them. The departures of Niakhaté and St. Juste will hurt Bo Svensson’s side. If one leaves you could get away with it. But when a solid partnership goes in the summer and you haven’t reinvested with equally good players, you’re always going to struggle. And because of that, Mainz could underachieve this season.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Former Borussia Dortmund II and Norwich City coach Daniel Farke has taken over the reins at Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 45-year-old is tasked with improving on Die Fohlen’s 10th place finish last season under Adi Hütter. Under sporting director Roland Virkus, who replaced the widely-respected Max Eberl at the start of the year, Farke comes into this role with a limited budget and plenty of work to do. He was lauded for his possession-based football at Norwich City but was unable to keep them in the Premier League, but his philosophy could suit those already at Borussia-Park.

Mönchengladbach’s downfall last season was their defence. With 54 goals conceded in 34 games, Farke made it known early on that he intends to strengthen their defence. They moved quick to secure the arrival of Ko Itakura from Manchester City for €4m and the Japan international has the ability to play in defence and midfield. They’ve also signed talented Danish youth international Oscar Fraulo from Midtjylland whilst Hannes Wolf returns from loan, a player that could benefit from Farke.

A departure that will hurt is that of Matthias Ginter. The 28-year-old has returned to Freiburg on a free transfer after deciding against a contract extension and entering his prime, the 2014 World Cup winner will certainly leave a hole in defence. Breel Embolo has joined AS Monaco for €12.5m leaving Gladbach with Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea in attack. With just less than four weeks remaining of the transfer window, we can expect BMG to be active.

The key to Borussia Mönchengladbach’s season is keeping Jonas Hofmann. Do that, and Farke may just be successful at the club. With Yann Sommer also remaining at the club, this team certainly has the potential to challenge for a Europa League spot at the minimum. Farke couldn’t have asked for a better start with an opening game against Hoffenheim, who have appointed André Breitenreiter, preceding games against newly-promoted Schalke and almost relegated Hertha Berlin.

Bayern Munich

What can be said for Bayern Munich? 10 titles in a row and they’re certainly favourites to lift the title once again in 2022/23. They’ve completely dominated German football for a decade and could do for a few more years as others try to bridge the somewhat massive gap. Bayern have again invested in their squad this year despite some key departures. The only question you have to ask when it comes to Bayern is do they have the motivation to go all out once again?

The big departure for Bayern this summer was of course, Robert Lewandowski. For some time it looked like he may not get his dream move to Barcelona but when the Spanish club offered €50m for the 33-year-old, they couldn’t say no. In total, Lewandowski scored 344 goals in 375 games for Bayern Munich and will be regarded as one of their all-time top scorers. Despite his departure, Bayern signed Liverpool forward Sadio Mané. The 30-year-old was quite the coup for Bayern and will no doubt put fear into Bundesliga defences up and down the country this summer.

Alongside Mané the Bavarian club welcomed Matthias de Ligt (Juventus), Mathys Tel (Rennes), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), and Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax) to just a few. The two signings from Ajax were possibly two of the best transfers in the Bundesliga this summer. Gravenberch at just 20-year-old has signed a five-year deal and only cost Bayern an initial €18.5 million. For one of the best up-and-coming midfielders in Europe, it’s a great piece of business. What’s more, Mazraoui at 24-years-old came on a free transfer! Hat’s off to sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić and his team.

It’s clear that Bayern will be in the top two this season unless the club has an absolute disaster on the pitch, but that is hard to see. It’s basically up to the likes of Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen to try and catch Bayern. If the opposition isn’t on it from matchday one, expect Bayern to lift their 11th consecutive Bundesliga title.

Schalke

In terms of fanbase, global presence, and overall stature, Schalke should never have been relegated in the first place. However, football isn’t played on paper and they’ve had to grind in the second league before making their way back into the top flight.

By mid-July, Schalke had brought in 11 players. On one hand, this could cause problems if players don’t settle in time but I just can’t see that happening in Schalke’s case. In front of 62,000 fans in the Veltins Arena, they’ll be tough to beat at home. Looking at the signings that S04 have made, they mean business. Frank Kramer and his team have brought on board a range of experienced pros as well as young talents. Some of these players include Alexander Schwolow (Hertha Berlin), Maya Yoshida (Sampdoria), Sebastian Polter (Bochum), Alex Král (Spartak Moscow), and Cédric Brunner (Arminia Bielefeld).

In terms of players leaving, Schalke haven’t seen many big names leave. Central-defender Ozan Kabak left for Hoffenheim for a fee of around €7m. The 22-year-old once showed great potential and may still be a great defender in a couple of years. But with replacements such as Yoshida, they have older, more experienced players ready to set up to the plate. The one that did get away was Ko Itakura. The Japanese international played a key role in Schalke’s promotion last season. On loan from Manchester City, S04 wanted to make the move permanent but lacked the funds at the time. Subsequently, Itakura signed for fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach. It will be interesting to see how the defensive midfielder fairs in the top division, Schalke fans will be gutted to see him lining up against them this campaign.

Overall, Schalke should be happy with their transfer activity in the pre-season. They’ll be ready for the battle and should have enough to steer clear of a relegation battle. Expect the Royal Blues to finish in and around 11th spot this season.

Stuttgart

When it comes to Stuttgart, they’ll be hovering around the relegation play-off spot along with Werder Bremen come the end of the season, but Bremen could have just enough drive in their first season back to perhaps finish ahead of Stuttgart. Last season, VfB scored a late winner against Köln to secure safety on the final day.

The key to Stuttgart’s success or downfall lies with striker Saša Kalajdžić. The 25-year-old Austrian international scored six and created two in just 15 Bundesliga games last season with one of those coming against Köln on the last day. If he were to get a full season under his belt, his goals could provide the difference in Stuttgart’s season. However, he may not be there all season. The Austrian has attracted a lot of interest from several Premier League clubs including Manchester United, West Ham United, Brighton, and Southampton. The 6’5” forward certainly has the physical abilities and natural eye for goal to do a job in the Premier League.

Stuttgart will also be without box-to-box midfielder Orel Mangala, who joined Premier League side Nottingham Forest. Whilst having a quiet transfer window in terms of incomings, Sven Mislintat did an excellent job of signing Konstantinos Mavropanos and Hiroki Ito on permanent deals, both impressing on loan last season.

Wolfsburg

Following a forgettable campaign ending in a 12th place finish, Wolfsburg are determined to bounce back towards contending for European football at the top-half.

After parting ways with Florian Kohfeldt, they quickly moved to hire Niko Kovač as their new head coach. Having won two DFB Pokals and a Bundesliga title during his previous coaching spells in Germany, they will hope he replicates his past successes. Already, he will need to prioritise his team’s defending, given Die Wölfe ended up conceding 17 more goals last season than the 2020/21 campaign. Their pre-season form suggests they’ll score more goals this season, plundering 29 goals in just seven games. However, they recently needed a last-minute winner to secure a 1-0 victory over fourth-tier side FC Carl Zeiss Jena in the Pokal. The result and performance imply there is still plenty of work ahead for the Croat and his staff, to get his squad firing on all cylinders.

The Croatian has overseen a strengthening in midfield during the summer window, with the key additions of Mattias Svanberg and Patrick Wimmer. Svanberg, who arrives from Serie A club Bologna, is expected to have an immediate impact, recently starting alongside new captain Maximilian Arnold. He was signed to replace the departing Xaver Schlager, who moved to RB Leipzig. Meanwhile, the Austrian Wimmer joins from Arminia Bielefeld, where he stood out with some dazzling displays in his debut season in Germany. 20-year-old winger Jakub Kamiński has also signed for €10m, so he could be a prospect to watch.

As well as Schlager, right-back Kevin Mbabu has also departed the club, joining Fulham. Experienced centre-back John Brooks left as a free agent in the summer, while midfielder Elvis Rexhbecaj has moved to Augsburg. Yet there is still a solid squad remaining, with the likes of Maxence Lacroix, Ridle Baku and Luca Waldschmidt all keen to improve on a disappointing season.

While Wolfsburg haven’t made major improvements to their squad, they also severely underperformed last season. Their squad is far too good to finish in the bottom-half of the table, however it remains at a distance behind last year’s top-four. A top six finish and qualification for Europe should be the team’s goal, assuming Kovač can bring out their best.

Daniel Pinder, Jamie Allen, Josh Sim

 



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