BERLIN: FC Bayern Munich start their Bundesliga title defense against Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday and are hoping an off-season spending spree will account for the loss of star striker Robert Lewandowski.
With five Champions League entrants for the first time this season, German football is in the best of health, although Bayern are still favored to clinch their 11th consecutive national title.
While Lewandowski, who scored 344 goals in 375 games in all competitions at the Allianz Arena in eight years, will be absent up front, coach Julian Nagelsmann will draw some consolation from the 5-3 Supercup triumph against RB Leipzig on Saturday five different players make Bayern’s top scorer list.
Bayern boss Oliver Kahn believes the acquisition of Sadio Mane from Liverpool could work in the German champions’ favor by making Bayern less predictable in attack.
“You saw how many opportunities we had to go forward, how many different formations we had, how surprising we can be,” said Kahn after Bayern’s tenth Supercup victory.
Even if the goals aren’t close, their transfer efforts will really be tested in the background.
With the signing of central defender Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus, Bayern want to strengthen a leaky defence.
In view of the three goals conceded in the second half of the Supercup, Nagelsmann still has a lot to do.
Last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund will lead a chasing group looking to dethrone the perennial German champions.
After conceding 52 goals last year, more than any other side in the top eight, Dortmund eased their wallets to bring in German national team centre-backs Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle from Freiburg and Bayern respectively.
Up front, Red Bull Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi becomes a threat from the wings, which Dortmund have been missing since Jadon Sancho left in 2021, while defensive midfielder Salih Ozcan provides steel and mental stability.
However, the biggest doubts for the Westphalians will be in the storm as Sebastien Haller – who arrived from Ajax to replace Erling Haaland from Manchester City in the summer – is expected to miss an uncertain period due to his testicular cancer diagnosis.
New sporting director Sebastian Kehl urged fans to show “a bit of realism” in their pursuit of their first title since 2012.
“The Bavarians make 285 million euros more in sales than we do. Roughly speaking, they will invest twice as much in their squad this season as we do.”
RB Leipzig start the season by winning their first major title, beating SC Freiburg on penalties to lift the 2021/22 German Cup.
They’ve also managed to buck the trend of recent summers by hanging on to their best players. Christopher Nkunku, German Footballer of the Year 2022, signed a two-year contract extension in June.
The Paris Saint-Germain academy graduate scored 35 goals in 52 games for Leipzig last season. Nkunku said his side have what it takes to win the Bundesliga but need to become more consistent.
“Consistency is the key… That’s the only way you can beat FC Bayern for the title.”
Despite strong interest from Bayern and Dortmund, Leipzig have cemented their title qualifiers by snapping up in-form left-back David Raum from Hoffenheim.
Alongside Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen have managed to retain their best players, with winger Moussa Diaby and midfielder Florian Wirtz opting to remain in the Red-Blacks.
The signing of Czech striker Adam Hlozek from Sparta Prague, who will support his compatriot Patrik Schick in attack, further boosts Bayer’s hopes, but coach Gerardo Seoane is already under pressure after losing to third-tier SV in the first round of the DFB Cup Print Elversberg.
Frankfurt, fresh from their first European win in 42 years, could also claim an unlikely title win but need to reconcile their domestic league ambitions with a debut Champions League campaign.
Alongside Kevin Trapp and Filip Kostic – two players who were key to last year’s triumph – Frankfurt have brought in 2014 world champion Mario Goetze from PSV Eindhoven to pull the strings from midfield.
The World Cup in Qatar means a much longer winter break than usual for the Bundesliga this season.
The last matchday before the World Cup is matchday 15 on the weekend of November 12th and 13th, the Bundesliga does not return until January 20th.