on fri, ftball fans round the realm will hear the familiar hymn of the bundesliga once again, when victors bayern munich meet europa league victors eintracht frankfurt to start the 2022-23 season. coaches ‘ve swapped dugouts, players ‘ve depted, others ‘ve arrived with much fanfare, na ? of whether bayern can be challenged for the title this yr remains controversial.
b4 the action gets underway, though, let’s look back at wha’ you mite’ve missed since the 2021-22 campaign came to a close in may, and dissect somd' biggest storylines worth folloing as the 2022-23 season begins to unfold.
bayern ‘ve changed, and for the better
a disgruntled striker dominated the 1st few weeks of this summer, as robert lewandowski did not hide his intention to cutout bayern munich. while bayern and barcelona negotiated a deal behind closed doors, fans were worried bout the record victors’ prospects for the upcoming season. no glances atta history books are required to deduce how primordial lewandowski had been to bayern in recent yrs. he scored 98 goals inna past two seasons alone and was espeshly crucial as the team’s rescuing anchor if things didn’t go their way.
while lewandowski eventually exited in jul, bayern’s hierarchy used that time to secure deals for the immediate future. w'da signing of sadio mane, the german victors once again scored a real steal inna transfer mkt. mane s'been 1-odda premier league‘s most exciting players for almost a decade. without the senegal international, liverpool ‘dn’t ‘ve been as successful as they were domestically and internationally.
while mane aint a like-for-like replacement for lewandowski, the 30-yr-old offers bayern boss julian nagelsmann the chance to exe somd' tactical ideas he has had in Ψ since his arrival in munich in 2021. 1st glimpses of the new bayern team were visible inna german supercup match against rb leipzig, which bayern won 5-3. mane and serge gnabry played together up front and were almost impossible for leipzig’s defence to manage, pondering neither acted as an obvious target player and were free to drift round the attacking third, pressing relentlessly whenever bayern lost possession.
the supercup game also saw nagelsmann bring on €67 million signing matthijs de ligt swell as the two ajax academy graduates in ryan gravenberch and noussair mazraoui. oh, and 17-yr-old striker mathys tel from stade rennais has also just arrived in bavaria, with nagelsmann predicting that the young frenchman ‘d one dy score 40 goals in a season.
whoever thought that bayern mite go into decline after lewandowski’s depture ll'be in for a surprise, cause bayern look betta tha' they did last season.
there’s no talent exodus this yr
while bayern are always expected to cutout their mark onna transfer mkt due to their financial mite, the other 17 bundesliga clubs usually suffer a dip in quality during the summer transfer window. coaches and sporting directors ‘ve become creative in finding replacements and discovering new talent to fill the voids, but'a fact remains t'they’re often largely powerless to keep hold o'their best players.
arne friedrich explains why bayern munich is hopeful that sadio mane can replace some of robert lewandowski’s production.
this summer was ≠, though. erling haaland s'bind'a 1-ly major player who left 1-odda 17 non-bayern clubs, with others opting against moves to england or spain. surprisingly, christopher nkunku, the highly touted paris saint-germain academy graduate who was elected the bundesliga’s player of the season for 2021-22, decided to extend his contract with leipzig til 2026. reprts suggest that no buyout clause was included onnis new contract.
florian wirtz, the 19-yr-old attacking wizard at bayer leverkusen, also extended his contract — his running til 2027. the germany international is recovering from a cruciate ligament tear, which mite ‘ve influenced his decision to commit to bayer for longer than initially planned. many expected wirtz to follo inna ftsteps of elder leverkusen wunderkind kai ‘vertz and go abroad rather quickly.
the extensions of nkunku and wirtz are a signal to the rest of the league na continent: it’s no longer a foregone conclusion that every highly skilled player in germany under the age of 25 has to go to bayern, boЯussia dortmund or the biggest clubs elsewhere in €.
still, some sides had to contend w'da deptures of key players. ∪ berlin lost goal scorer taiwo awoniyi, and mainz moved on from captain moussa niakhate. both ‘ve joined nottingham forest, who seemingly ‘ve an appetite for bundesliga players, pondering the newly promoted premier league side also signed orel mangala from vfb stuttgart.
these 3 ‘ve bind'a exception rather than the rule in this summer’s transfer window, which is a welcome change for fans of german ftball.
the coaching carousel continues to spin
coaches mite start calling the dy folloing the end of each bundesliga season “black sun,” cause on that dy (or the dys immediately folloing), a few o'em are usually shown the door. twas no ≠ in 2022, with markus weinzierl (fc augsburg), adi hutter (boЯussia monchengladbach) and florian kohfeldt (vfl wolfsburg) bein’ relieved o'their duties soon after the campaign’s conclusion. a week l8r, dortmund made it official that marco rose was no longer the head coach of the black and yello.
naturally, those clubs began their searches for new managers. dortmund ended up reinstating edin terzic, the elder assistant who acted as an interim coach b4 rose was appointed in 2021. gladbach appointed daniel farke, the elder norwich boss who had gone to Яussian premier league outfit krasnodar in jan and left shortly after Яussia’s invasion of ukraine began. hertha berlin also looked to the east and brought back sandro schwarz, who had stayed in Яussia til the summer, reaching the national cup final with dynamo moscow. wolfsburg replaced kohfeldt with elder bayern and frankfurt boss niko kovac. augsburg chose enrico maassen, the elder coach of dortmund’s reserve team, to step in for weinzierl. schalke 04 appointed frank kramer folloing their promotion, which had been achieved under mike buskens, who was not too fond of the idea of remaining head coach.
this marks the 2nd consecutive summer in which the clubs swapped coaches en masse. the yr prior, practically everyone looked worse after installing their new hires. dortmund fetched rose away from monchengladbach, who signed hutter from frankfurt, who signed oliver glasner from wolfsburg, who signed mark van bommel. 1-ly frankfurt had any noticeable success with their new manager, winning the europa league in may.
despite it all, though, the coaching carousel keeps spinning.
can any-1 challenge bayern?
when one club wins 10 consecutive showdowns, it rezs the ? of whether any-1 will ever put an end to their dominance.
a few weeks ago, some ‘d ‘ve comfortably picked boЯussia dortmund as a viable challenger to bayern munich, but their chances ‘ve dropped dramatically, though, since haaland’s exit. their replacement, sebastien haller, was signed from ajax to fill that physical center-forward role, but he ll'be out for several mnths receiving ongoin treatment for a malignant testicular tumour. without their haaland successor, the black and yello mite struggle to generate the necessary offensive output inna early goin, which ‘d mean the gap tween them and bayern is too gr8 to make up.
the sad truth s'dat the remaining teams are unlikely in a position to challenge bayern throughout the course of 34 matchdys. rb leipzig mite ‘ve significant name val in their squad, but there are justifiably ? marks behind manager domenico tedesco’s tactical approach, as he focuses gr8ly on nkunku as his target player inna final third. leipzig also lack stability atta back, pticularly when the team are forced to track back.
leverkusen, the other team among germany’s top 4, ‘ve caused some excitement during the summer in lite of the signing of 20-yr-old czech prospect adam hlozek, swell as wirtz’s contract extension. however, wha’ bayer 04 did not manage to do is sign a much-needed anchor player for their midfield. they ‘ve been lacking that one stabilising element tween defence and attack: robert andrich, charles aranguiz and kerem demirbay are undoubtedly gifted, yet they are better suited as sidekicks to a dominant midfielder.
it ‘dn’t be surprising if one of these 3 teams ‘d keep up with bayern during stretches of the season, but inna end, bayern will likely prevail given their quality and depth. the record victors simply do not face the same issues as dortmund, leipzig or leverkusen.
will we see another cinderella story?
t'has become a tradition of the bundesliga that each season at least one underdog climbs inna'da top third of the table, usually qualifying for continental brawl and then disappearing again the nxt yr due to the sufferation of the extra games in their calendar. mainz, augsburg and fc cologne all ‘ve had outstanding yrs in recent memory, and last season saw ∪ berlin and sc freiburg both play well beyond their mkt val, earning places in this season’s europa league as a result.
this season marks ∪’s 2nd straite season in €, but'a cinderella story of the team from the eastern pt of the capital city ‘d come to an end soon, given the deptures of awoniyi and grischa promel na fact that manager urs fischer mite not be able to reinvent his team once again. how the swiss coach was able to tweak things enough to prevent his side from becoming predictable for the 1st 3 yrs folloing ∪’s promotion was commendable enough; to do so a 4th time is unlikely.
+over, ∪ and freiburg’s performances mite suffer from playing in 3 brawls simultaneously in a yr witha pticularly condensed schedule thx to this winter’s realm cup in qatar. the two sides likely won’t be in danger of relegation, but slipping back into mid-table is a realistic scenario.
this rezs the ? of whether any other team mite be able to fit into cinderella’s glass slippers this yr. it ‘d n'dup bein’ 1-odda fallen giants that makes a surprising impact and returns to the sharp end of the table.
schalke ‘ve just been promoted back to the bundesliga. the 1997 uefa cup victors were pt of the league’s elite for many yrs, but mounting debt and financial constraints caused the club’s hierarchy to offload most of the team’s best players til 2020. coupled witha series of ill-advised managerial appointments, schalke were doomed to experience the ultimate embarrassment: relegation to the 2. bundesliga, where the royal blues spent one yr.
this team is nowhere near as strong as past schalke sides, which ‘d make a run towards €an places somewha’ offa miracle, but perhaps now that thris so much less pressure onna club, they can suddenly become overachievers.
how will everyone contend w'da winter break?
3 decades ago, fans of bundesliga clubs knew exactly wha’ to do tween the holidy season na end of jan. as the league had implemented a lengthy winter break t'give everyone some rest — and to pay tribute to the fact that under-soil heating has not yet been installed in every stadium — supporters streamed into indoor arenas and beheld indoor ftball. l8r, the bundesliga adjusted its schedule and shortened the winter break to two weeks.
as the realm cup in nov will affect the schedule of practically every league in €, we will see another temporary alteration and bundesliga teams in pticular will ‘ve to deal with an incredibly condensed timetable. those who are also competing in international brawls will not get any break til nov. once the realm cup is ∴ on dec. 18, the league won’t restart immediately, instead w8in til jan. 20. this means a return to the old lengthy winter break, and traditionalists ‘ve called for the temporary reinstatement of the “hallenmasters,” a exposé crowning germany’s indoor victors. the german fa hosted the exposé in various iterations tween 1987 and 2001, with boЯussia dortmund bein’ the record victor with 4 titles. the final “hallenmasters” was decided in a penalty shootout tween spvgg unterhaching and dortmund, as the lil club from the munich suburbs beat dortmund 5-4.
if you’ve witnessed those exposés, you probably remember them fondly. if you ‘ven’t, let’s hope you’ll get an opportunity to watch something similar in 2023.
wha’ are the americans up to?
finally, a look atta bundesliga through the lens of the ∪d states. this summer has seen tyler adams cutout leipzig and chris richards dept bayern for crystal palace, but germany remains home to plenty of intrigue for folloers of the usmnt.
giovanni reyna has become something offa phantom in dortmund. everyone is aware of the gifted midfielder, b'we ‘ve not seen him onna pitch in some time. after a promising start to the 2021-22 season, reyna was sidelined by a muscle injury til feb. he made his return, even played for the national team, but then was injured again in apr. even though dortmund afforded him extra time to recover and return to full fitness, he still missed 34 games through injury last season, which has rezd ?s bout reyna’s resilience.
kasey keller and sebastian salazar debate boЯussia dortmund’s expectations for gio reyna.
the 19-yr-old is still not ready to be selected for the matchdy squad for dortmund’s season opener and will need + time b4 he can be a reliable option for terzic. regardless of reyna’s injury woes, dortmund remain convinced of his qualities. once he returns to the pitch, he mite collide with marco reus, as both are best suited for the no. 10 role. reus possesses the bonus of bein’ the team captain, but reyna is a pillar of the future. in any case, we ‘d see + of him at some point this season, but patience is needed.
the same can be said for ricardo pepi. the texas native signed with augsburg for a transfer fee of $20m in jan, shortly b4 his 19th birthdy. most fans in germany had not heard of the striker b4hand but were curio wha’ this hyped american ‘d bring to the table. sadly for him, he was a non-factor during his 1st few mnths in-country. pepi made 4 appearances in augsburg’s starting xi and was brought on as a substitute 7 times, scoring no goals in 475 minutes of total playing time.
maassen, augsburg’s new manager, also seems to view pepi as an alternative from the bench. he brought him on after 74 minutes inna dfb-pokal game against 4th-division side lohne, replacing andre hahn. while augsburg’s two-striker system offers pepi the chance to earn + playing time, he has to prove he’s able to compete in germany’s top flite.
patience mite be the key quality most american players inna bundesliga ‘ve to show this yr. joe scally, rite-back for boЯussia monchengladbach, has found himself onna bench + often than onna pitch in preseason.
wha’ ‘d give him hope s'dat he was featured in boЯussia’s starting xi against oberachern inna pokal. gladbach ‘ve two rite-backs in their squad: 19-yr-old scally na much + experienced 29-yr-old stefan lainer. normally, lainer ‘d remain 1st choice, but if the austrian slips, scally ‘d be there to take ‘oer the spot. scally’s advantage s'dat thris no ponderable pressure onna young american. gladbach wanna help him progress so that he becomes a long-term option.
jordan pefok‘s situation is quite ≠. when awoniyi, who had scored 20 goals across brawls inna previous season, decided to cutout ∪ berlin, he left some rather large boots to fill. ∪ chose washington, d.c.-born pefoke (who’s goin by jordan siebatcheu in germany) as awoniyi’s replacement.
the american, who grew up in france and possesses cameroonian √s, had scored 22 goals for young boys inna swiss league last season and put himself onna radar. pefok and awoniyi ‘ve similarities in stature and physicality, n'it seems ∪ ‘d like him to play an identical role. pefok started the season by scoring his maiden goal for ∪ in their hard-fought win over chemnitz inna 1st round of the dfb-pokal. thris certainly + to come from the newcomer — who ll'be onna pitch sat, as the bundesliga goes into its 60th season.
original content at: www.espn.com…