German Bundesliga 2010-11 Season Preview

The German Bundesliga is currently the most profitable league in the world. It has pushed England's highly coveted Premier League to second spot. However, the Bundesliga is not the most commercial of leagues but it is the fans' league.

The biggest regional rivalry in the Bundesliga is currently between the two Northerners, Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV who really dislike each other. Werder were perhaps one of the only sides which could challenge Bayern Munich this season until the departure of Mesut Oezil. Werder's team hasn't changed much compared to the previous season. Naldo, Per Mertesacker and Clemens Fritz occupy three out of four spots in defence with Tim Wiese in goal, captain Torsten Frings still terrorizes the opposition and Claudio Pizarro leads the line. Mesut Oezil was the undisputed star of the side. Now perhaps, Marko Marin has to take that role. Aaron Hunt, Sebastian Boenisch, and Hugo Almeida have to step up this season if Bremen are to fight for a European spot this season.

Hamburg is blessed with two skillful but different types of wingers in Elijero Elia and Marcell Jansen. They have an intelligent midfielder in David Jarolim and two good attackers in Mladen Petric and Ruud Van Nisteelrooy. Of Hamburg's newest signings, the two best acquisitions have to be Heiko Westermann who was named captain by Armin Veh and midfielder Gojko Kacar from Hertha Berlin. Hamburg start the season well but tend to fade away towards the end. Without European distractions though, this could be Hamburg' s season.

Werder will not be Hamburg's only bitter rival this season. Enter St. Pauli. This is the team which will definitely provide plenty of entertainment considering matters on and off the pitch this season. They have good young players in their side. Rouwen Hennings has a knack for scoring goals, while Dennis Naki, Max Kruse, and Carlos Zambrano are all talented youngsters. Gerald Asamoah will provide some much needed experience up front.

The word "underachievement" brings only one team into mind, Bayer Leverkusen. The departure of Toni Kroos following the end of his loan spell to Bayern will not hurt the Werkeself due to their depth in midfield. Simon Rolfes, Michael Ballack, Arturo Vidal, Tranquillo Barnetta, Renato Augusto, Lars Bender — what more could any team want? Add to that a strike force of Patrick Helmes, Stefan Kiessling, and Eren Derdiyok and a very good defence and you have a genuine title contender. The two questions regarding Leverkusen always contain the words "luck and belief". Jupp Heynckes will give them the belief but will they have enough luck to win it?

The true dark horse of this season is Borussia Dortmund. They have a solid squad consisting of defenders Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, and Patrick Owomoyela, high scoring striker Lucas Barrios and plenty of colourful and solid midfielders in Sven Bender, Mario Goetze, Jakub Blaszczykowski, and Nuri Sahin. Dortmund finished sixth in 2009 and fifth in 2010. The only way for Jurgen Klopp's team seems to be up.

The most high profile signing has surprisingly gone to Schalke. Instead of only signing squad players, Felix Magath has signed Raul Gonzalez. Raul will not be a natural replacement for Kevin Kuranyi but will definitely be a threat upfront. The departures of Rafinha, Heiko Westermann, and Kuranyi might turn out to haunt Schalke. Schalke's defence isn't completely set yet due to the departures of Rafinha and Westermann. Due to their many squad players though, Schalke will not run out of steam easily despite competing in three competitions.

The biggest spenders of the Bundesliga has been Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg's failure to even come close to defending their title came down to their defence and inconsistency. They have retained their attacking trio of Zvejdan Misimovic, Grafite, and Edin Dzeko. Their captain Josue, Marcel Schafer, Sascha Riether, and co make up the rest of a solid squad. Rumour has it that Diego, a consistent performer for Werder from 2006 to 2009 will be joining them from Juventus. The defence has been somewhat improved with the additions of former Hertha captain Arne Friedrich and Dane Simon Kjaer. The manager Steve Mclaren is the one who will really be in the spotlight. The squad is good but Mclaren will have to find a way to discipline it.

Eintracht Frankfurt was one of the surprises of the previous season. They have a solid, if unimpressive squad. Caio adds Brazilian magic while Halil Altintop, Martin Fenin, and Ioannis Amanatidis make up the strike force. Frankfurt also have a decent keeper in Oka Nikolov. Their target will perhaps be a top 10 finish again if not a berth in the Europa League.

Stuttgart's biggest stars Sami Khedira and Aliaksandr Hleb have both left the club for Spain. The club unlike other seasons seem to be destined for mid-table mediocrity. They do have good players such as the likes of Zdravko Kusmanovic, Sebastian Rudy, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Christian Trasch, Serdar Tasci, Jeronimo Cacau and Mathieu Delpierre and more but lack a hard man in midfield as well as one good star.

A pleasant surprise of the previous season was Borussia Moenchengladbach. Gladbach fans have suffered immensely in recent years due to their team's battles with relegation. Last season wasn't great; it was a relatively good season. Michael Bradley is the main man. Roel Brouwers, Dante, Juan Arango, captain Filip Daems, and keeper Logan Bailly are some of the key members. A top 10 finish for Gladbach is not out of reach this season.

Lukas Podolski's hometown club may wish that they didn't spend 10 million euros on bringing back their hero. Four seasons on the trot, Podolski's club form has been nothing short of abysmal. It is mainly due to the players surrounding the Prince, namely Petit, Milivoje Novakovic, Pedro Geromel, captain Youssef Mohammed, and keeper Faryd Mondragon that Köln have survived the drop. It seems as if they will finish in the lower half of the table similar to their previous seasons.

Kaiserslautern are another unknown side. The story of their most recent title win in 1998 just a year after being promoted from the second division. Bundesliga gives the likes of St. Pauli hope. The former home of many good German players as well as the great Fritz Walter, KSC have quietly slipped into the Bundesliga this time. The fact that most of their players are unknown might make them the surprise package that Hoffenheim was two years ago.

Hoffenheim were tipped to emulate KSC's achievement of 1998 in 2009. They however finished sixth in 2009 and a lowly eleventh in 2010. Hoffenheim's squad is filled with intelligent players such as Vedad Ibisevic, Demba Ba, Chinedu Obasi, Tobias Weis, and Sejad Salihovic as well as solid players such as Josip Simunic and Isaac Vorsah to name a few. However, there have long been rumours of disharmony between owner Dietmar Hopp and coach Ralf Rangnick. Unrest behind the scenes might leave the colourful, yet inconsistent Hoffenheim fighting for survival for a big part of the season.

Nuremberg survived the drop following a two legged play off against the third placed team of the two Bundesliga, Energie Cottbus. Two players who helped the club survive, Andreas Ottl and Eric Maxim Choupo Moting have gone back to their parent clubs. These two players, especially Choupo Moting was key to the club's survival. Nuremberg will have to invest more than they have if they are to survive the drop this season.

Most neutrals wanted Hannover to survive the previous season following the death of their inspirational captain Robert Enke. It took time for the squad to get up and get going. In Mirko Slomka, Hannover have a good coach.Their captain Steve Cherundolo is a consistent performer. They have other good players such as Mario Eggimann, Sergio Pinto, Didier Ya Konan, Mike Hanke, Karim Haggui, and Mikael Forssell in their ranks as well.

SC Freiburg is a solid team to start with. Many tipped them for the drop last season but they secured survival prior to Hanover and Nuremberg despite having gone six games without a win at one point.The departure of Mohammed Idrissou as well as Cha Du-Ri could hurt Freiburg. They are perhaps in for another long and hard battle with relegation this season.

Mainz, of the promoted sides, performed the best the previous season. Austrian Andreas Ivanschitz pulls the strings in midfield. Adam Szalai is another promising player in the team from Real Madrid Castilla. Unfortunately, one of Mainz's best players, Aristide Bance has left the club for financial reasons. Sami Allagui has been brought in to replace him from Greuther Furth. Mainz can play good football and are the team which inflicted upon Louis Van Gaal his first defeat as Bayern manager. Provided that Allagui is as prolific as Bance, Mainz is set to do well again this season following their ninth place finish in 2010.

And finally, FC Bayern Munich. Not much has changed about FC Hollywood. Their squad is almost unchanged. Three players they had out on loan Andreas Ottl, Breno, and Toni Kroos have all returned while a fourth player, Georg Niedermeier who was on loan at Stuttgart moved to Swabia permanently. Andreas Goerlitz and Michael Rensing have been released. The club will have to make do without the services of Arjen Robben for the first two months due to injury. Bayern might shift their focus to the Champions League following last season; however, their squad remains unparalleled in the Bundesliga and with Van Gaal at the helm, very few would bet against FCB.

The Bundesliga kicks off on August 20th. As tradition, the holders Bayern will start the season. Their opponents will be Wolfsburg.

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