German Bundesliga season preview - the rest
This is our last article in the Bundesliga season preview series. To read the other articles, use the following links:
- Bundesliga season preview - Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg
- Bundesliga season preview - Bayern Munchen and Borussia Monchengladbach
- Bundesliga season preview - Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund
Remember to also check our predictions page - for daily and completely free bet recommendations!
They had a great season in 2014/15, so now they are in for some Europa League play. This will not be easy for this relative small club, just think back to how Eintracht Frankfurt handled a similar situation a couple of seasons ago.
Rahman Baba was signed from Furth in Bundesliga II, he performed well and was sold to Chelsea during the latest transfer window. The club is known for smart purchases, and once again they have signed a very promising left back from Bundesliga II, Philipp Max. The Polish player Trochowski is another addition. He is an experienced midfielder, and although he did not get much time on the field with Sevilla, we expect he will improve the Augsburg squad.
Augsburg has looked good in the pre-season matches. Last year they ended in fifth place, mainly due to a very strong winning mentality. They should be able to avoid relegation this season, but another sixth place is probably far away.
Darmstadt managed, quite surprisingly, to secure a promotion from a very even Bundesliga II season. They were well organized defensively and played effective football at home. The club has had some tough years financially speaking, but they have still managed to climb the league system quickly (promoted from 3. Liga in 2013/14). The question is if they have overreached, and could be compared to Paderborn as of last season.
The club has invested around 1 million euros in the squad before this season, a very small amount for a Bundesliga I club. The season opener is against Hannover 96, a team that has lost several offensive players. It will be very important for the Darmstadt players’ morale to start the season with a good result, because in the following matches they will face Schalke, Hoffenheim, Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. We believe this will be too hard a task for Darmstadt, and expect them to be relegated.
Thomas Schaaf, the club’s coach last season, has left and his replacement is Armin Veh. Veh is playing a very offensive style football, and we expect plenty of action in both defence and offence – same as last season. The club scored 56 goals last season, 19 of these by Alexander Meier. But the club has regardless brought in more offensive players, as Castaignos from Twente has been signed and will probably replace Piazon that has returned to Chelsea.
When it comes to the defence, the club has lost the goalie Kevin Trapp to PSG. The backup goalie Wiedwald has also left. New goalkeeper is Linder, he was good for Austria Wien and should be an ok replacement. Reinartz from Leverkusen seems like a decent signing. He was not a first choice for Leverkusen, but we assume he will play in a useful defensive midfielder role for Eintracht. David Abraham has arrived from Hoffenheim, he should work well for Eintracht, although he does not look like your typical match winner.
We expect Eintracht Frankfurt to avoid relegation, they are too good for that. Most likely they will end up in the middle of the table. But it will be fun to watch them, especially if they can get the offensive trio of Meier/Seferovic/Castaignos to work well.
Hannover was only two points ahead of the relegation line last season. The team played a counter-attack style football, but only scored 40 goals. They also had a horrible period between December and May, where they did not win a league match.
The club has had several big internal problems. The fans are not happy, and the relationship with the club president Kind is far from good. In the end, the fans stopped attending the matches last season.
Before the start of this season, the club has lost its offensive trio of Joselu, Stindl and Bittencourt. When you consider the lack of goals scored last season, you might think this was a good decision. We disagree, the players were good enough for a mid-table position given the correct support from the rest of the team. The players that have been signed as replacements have decent potential (Bech from Nordsjaelland, Erdinc from St Etienne, and Benschop from Fortuna Dusseldorf), but it is doubtful they are better than the trio from last season. The pre-season matches indicate that the club still has problems when it comes to scoring goals.
Sports Director Dirk Dufner left the club in August, and that seems like a correct decision. We believe that the club will fight in the bottom of the table, something the fans definitely will be unhappy about.
Hertha Berlin has not had the best of pre-season build ups. They have not impressed at all in the training matches, and in addition the club experienced some drama off the field when the club bus was shot during their visit in Bielefeld for the German cup match on Augsut 10th.
Hertha ended on 15th place last season, tied on points with Hamburger SV on the relegation play-off spot. The coach Dardai took over the helm in mid-season, and even though the team performed a bit better under him, they still lost four of the last five matches of the season. Some of their problems can be attributed to injured key players, but only partly.
Weiser from Bayern Munich is an interesting signing, we believe he will improve the squad as he is a technical and fast player. Darida is another addition, he is a capable central midfielder. The club has not lost any of their key players from last season.
We believe Hertha Berlin will have another tough year, and we are unsure if they are good enough to avoid relegation. It will be very interesting to see how they perform in the season opener away to Augsburg.
Hoffenheim has established themselves as a mid-table team in the Bundesliga. The two previous season both ended with 44 points, the main difference between 2013/14 and 2014/15 was that in last season they both scored and conceded less goals.
The club has made significant changes to their offensive setup before this season. Schipplock has gone to HSV, Modeste to FC Koln, and the important Firmino travelled to Liverpool. So the question is, how will they handle these changes? We expect Kevin Volland to replace Firmino as the main striker, and there is no questioning his qualities. Tarik is another player that should get his chances, he started in 17 matches last season, and with no Firmino in the squad he should hope for at least the same amount of playing time this season.
New signings in offence are Kuryani from Dynamo Moscow. He has played in Bundesliga before, and we know he can score plenty of goals in this league. Mark Uth has arrived from Heerenveen, where he had a very good season. Other additions are Schmid from Freiburg and the promising Joelinton from Sport Recife. So in other words, some exciting choices, and probably smart ones too! Other notable signings are Kaderabek from Sparta Pragua and Schar from Basel.
We believe things are looking good for Hoffenheim, and they should be able to fight for a top 10 position again. The squad is good, it might take some time for the new players to settle properly, but once they do the team should do quite well.
Ingolstadt was promoted from Bundesliga II, they were strong at home and played on a consistent level and in an offensive and positive style.
The club has not lost any of their key players, but they have not signed that many new quality players either. The young attacker Kachunga has been brought in from Paderborn, Suttner from Austria Wien, plus the Norwegian goalie Nyland.
We expect that Ingolstadt will have a hard time avoiding relegation. It will probably be a very even fight among several teams in the bottom of the league, but if Ingolstadt can continue on the same consistent level they played last season, they do have a hope of avoiding relegation.
Koln was by many considered a relegation candidate last season. They were promoted from Bundesliga II the season before, and in general it is no understatement to say there has been chaos in the club for some years now. But they did manage a 12th position last season, and was never really in any danger of relegation. Koln played quite well in defence and this was probably a main factor in avoiding relegation, not that common among Bundesliga clubs that are mostly known for offensive football.
The club is now facing the difficult “second season” after a promotion. They have lost important players Wimmer (to Tottenham) and Ujah (to Werder Bremen) – these will surely be missed. New signings are for instance the young and capable Bittencourt from Hannover, while Modeste comes from Hoffenheim. Modeste is probably going to replace Ujah. Hosiner is another addition, he was great for Austria Wien some years ago, but did not succeed in Rennes. So how he will do for Koln we simply have to wait and see.
In defence they have brought in Fredrik Sorensen from Juventus. He did not get much time on the field in Serie A and was on loan to Verona. How he will perform for Koln is a good question, but he is young and talented. In central midfield the new signing Milos Jojic will be an improvement to the squad, he is replacing Halfar that will play in Bundesliga II.
Overall, we believe the latest transfer window turned out positive for Koln. The new offensive signings seem to be players that could do well on counter-attack. A lot will depend on how the club performs in the beginning of the season. The fixture list for August and September does not look that hard, and the club will need to take advantage of this. If they are not able to do that, then they will be fighting in the bottom of the league.
Stuttgart finished in 14th place last season, only two points ahead of the relegation line. They secured their place in the league in the very last match of the season with a 2-1 win over the worst team in the league Paderborn. In the two seasons prior to last season, they finished in 15th and 12th place. In other words, the club is struggling and the third place they managed in 2008/09 seems like a long time ago.
Last season saw the club getting a new coach (Veh from Eintracht Frankfurt), but due to the poor results the Sporting Director was sacked in September, and then Veh resigned in November. The new Sporting Director appointed Hubb Stevens as new coach, “Der Huub” had saved Stuttgart the previous season from relegation and received the same task again. Der Huub managed to save the club by winning the last three matches of the season and thereby taking the 14th place. Mission accomplished, the coach resigned, and current coach is former RB Leipzig coach Alex Zorniger.
Zorniger brings new hope to the Stuttgart fans, as he has a good track record from RB Leipzig and will look to play more offensive football. In the latest training matches before the season starts, Stuttgart has impressed by beating Manchester City 4-2, and before that they beat Winterthur 4-1 and Aalen 1-0. In the German cup last weekend they beat Holstein Kiel 2-1 away, so they have four wins in last four matches.
Both goalkeepers left the club before this season. Ulreich went to Bayern Munich and Kirschbaum signed with Nurnberg. They have been replaced by former backup goalie for Dortmund, Langerak, plus Polish international Tyton.
Other players that has left include Sakai (to Hamburger SV), Romeo (returned to Chelsea), and the German U21 International Moritz Leitner (on loan, Borussia Dortmund).
Notable additions to the squad are Lukas Rupp (midfielder from Paderborn), and Emiliano Insua (left back from Atletico Madrid).
We are hopeful that Stuttgart will have a better season this time around, compared to previous seasons. The pre-season results are promising, and it will be interesting to see what the coach Zorniger can add in terms of new formations and more offensive football. The club has some young and talented players, and managed to keep them despite offers from Premier League and top Bundesliga clubs. If the players avoid injuries, Stuttgart should stay clear of relegation danger, and will most likely finish in the top half of the table.
If you turn back the clock ten years, then Werder Bremen was one of the clubs fighting in the very top and challenging Bayern Munich for the title. Nowadays they are competing in the middle of the table, with positions between 10th and 14th in the last three seasons.
Last season saw Werder Bremen finishing in 10th place, eight points above the relegation line and 18 points below the Champions League qualification spot. They were five points behind Schalke who got the last Europe League slot, and Werder Bremen could have been closer if they had finished the season a bit better. Overall, it was a season with two different halves – the first one with Robin Dutt as the coach and the second with Viktor Skripnik as coach. Dutt was sacked late in October 2014, and Skripnik was promoted internally from the second team. The club showed great unity during this difficult transition period, and with Skripnik as coach the team started playing noticeably better. Their biggest problem over the whole season is the defence, with a total of 65 goals conceded (39 in first half of season and 26 in second).
Werder Bremen sold their two most important strikers during the summer, Franco Di Santo (13 goals last season) went to Shcalke and Selke (9 goals last season) went to Leipzig. They have therefore signed two new strikers. The most recent and biggest purchase of the summer was Aron Johansson, the American striker from AZ Alkmaar. In addition they have signed Ujah from Koln.
The expectations are high for this season, and Skripnik is expected to build upon the results last season and have Werder Bremen competing for European qualification. Much will depend on the new strikers and how they perform compared to Santo and Selke, but improving the defence is also necessary. The start of the season might prove crucial, as three of the four first home matches for Werder Bremen will see them facing tough opposition in Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. We expect Werder Bremen to have to fight really hard to get to the Europa League position, and most likely they will finish around the middle or just above the middle of the table.