Aug 3, 2022
Will one of these four clubs be lifting the Meisterschale come season's end? Illustration by ESPN

On Friday, football fans around the world will be able to hear the familiar hymn of the Bundesliga once again, when Eintracht Frankfurt take on the defending champion. The question of whether or not to challenge for the title this year remains controversial, as coaches have swapped dugouts, players have left, and others have arrived with much fanfare.

Before the action gets underway, though, let's look back at what you might've missed since the 2021-22 campaign came to a close in May, and discuss some of the biggest storylines worth following as the 2022-23 season begins.

What are the Americans going to do?

Bayern have changed, and for the better

The first few weeks of the summer were dominated by a disgruntled strikers intent on leaving. Fans were concerned about the upcoming season while the deal was being negotiated. It's not necessary to look at the history books to see how important Lewandowski was to the team. He scored 98 goals in the past two seasons and was crucial to the team's survival.

After Lewandowski left, the hierarchy secured deals for the immediate future. The signing of Sadio Mane was a real steal for the German champion. He has been one of the most exciting players in the league for a long time. It wouldn't have been as successful if it weren't for the Senegalese player.

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The 30-year-old is not a like-for-like replacement for Lewandowski, but he does offer the chance to execute some of the tactical ideas he has had in mind. The first glimpse of the new team was seen in the German Supercup match. It was almost impossible for Leipzig's defence to keep a clean sheet because they were free to drift around the attacking third whenever they lost possession.

The signing of Matthijs de Ligt was one of the highlights of the Supercup game. The young Frenchman could one day score 40 goals in a season according to the predictions of the coach.

It will be a surprise if anyone thought that Bayern would go into decline because they look better than they did a year ago.

There's no talent exodus this year

The other 17 Bundesliga clubs suffer a dip in quality during the summer transfer window because they are expected to leave their mark on the transfer market. Even though they have become more creative in finding replacements and discovering new talent, coaches and sporting directors are often powerless to keep their best players.


The hope is that Sadio can replace some of the production of Robert.

The summer this year was different. Erling Haaland was the only major player to leave a non-Bayern club. Christopher Nkunku, who was elected the Bundesliga's Player of the Season for his performance in the season, decided to extend his contract with the club. According to reports, there was no clause in his new contract that would have allowed him to leave.

The 19-year-old attacking wizard at the German club extended his contract. The Germany international might have changed his mind about committing to Bayer after he injured his knee. Kai Havertz, a former wunderkind of the Leverkusen club, went abroad quickly.

It's no longer a foregone conclusion that every highly skilled player in Germany under the age of 25 has to go to a big club in Europe.

Some sides had to deal with the departure of key players. Union Berlin lost Taiwo Aiyiwon and Mainz replaced him. Both have joined the newly promotedNottingham Forest, who seem to have an appetite for players from the German league.

Fans of German football will be happy to know that these three have been the exception rather than the rule.

The coaching carousel continues to spin

Some coaches might start calling the day after the end of the season "Black Sunday" due to the fact that a few of them are usually shown the door. After the campaign's conclusion, four people were relieved of their duties, including FC Augsburg's Markus Weinzierl. Marco Rose was not the head coach of the Black and Yellow.

The clubs started searching for new managers. Edin Terzic was an interim coach before Rose was appointed. Daniel Farke, the former boss of Krasnodar who left shortly after the start of the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was hired by Gladbach. Hertha Berlin brought back Sandro Schwarz, who was in Russia until the summer, to play in the national cup final. Weinzierl was the coach of the reserve team. Under Mike Buskens, who was not fond of the idea of remaining head coach, Frank was appointed to the position.

The clubs swapped coaches for the second year in a row. Everyone looked worse after they installed their new hires. Rose was taken away from Monchengladbach, who signed Hutter from Frankfurt. The only thing that was noticeable with the new manager was the win of the Europa League.

The coaching carousel continues to spin despite it all.

Niko Kovac returns to the Bundesliga, the former Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt manager now in charge of Wolfsburg after an 18-month spell in Monaco. Swen Pförtner/picture alliance via Getty Images

Can anyone challenge Bayern?

The question of whether anyone will ever stop the club's dominance is raised when they win 10 consecutive titles.

Since Haaland's exit, the chances of the team challenging for the title have plummeted. Their replacement, Sebastien Haller, will be out for several months while he receives treatment for a cancer. Without Haaland, the Black and Yellow might not be able to generate the offensive output they need in the early going.

The sad truth is that the remaining teams won't be able to challenge for the title during the course of 34 match days. There are question marks behind the tactical approach of the manager as he focuses on Nkunku as his target player in the final third. When the team are forced to go back, they lack stability at the back.

The signing of 20-year-old Czech prospect Adam Hlozek as well as the extension of the contract ofrtz caused some excitement during the summer. There is a need for an anchor player for the middle of the field. Robert Andrich and Charles Aranguiz are both gifted, but they are better suited as sidekicks to a dominant player.

There's a beautiful game here. You can watch tournaments and teams.

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There is a Friday in August. It was 5.

• Frankfurt vs. Bayern (2:30 p.m. ET)

• Brugge vs. Zulte-Waregem (2:45 p.m. ET)

There is a Saturday in August. It was 6.

• Norwich vs. Wigan (7:30 a.m. ET)

• Union Berlin vs. Hertha Berlin (9:30 a.m. ET)

• Wolfsburg vs. Werder Bremen (9:30 a.m. ET)

• Augsburg vs. Freiburg (9:30 a.m. ET)

• Burnley vs. Luton Town (10 a.m. ET)

• Dortmund vs. Leverkusen (12:30 p.m. ET)

• Inter Milan vs. Villarreal (2:30 p.m. ET)

• Real Betis vs. Fiorentina (4 p.m. ET)

It wouldn't be surprising if one of these three teams could keep up with them, but in the end, it's likely that they'll win. They don't face the same issues as other teams.

Will we see another Cinderella story?

It is a tradition in the German league to have at least one team that is an outsider climb into the top third of the table and then disappear again the next year due to the extra games in their calendar. In the past few years, Mainz, Augsburg, and FC Cologne have all had outstanding years, and last season saw Union Berlin and SC Freiburg earn places in the Europa League.

The Swiss coach was able to change things enough to prevent his side from being predictable for the first three years after Union's promotion was commendable, but it's not likely to happen again.

Due to this winter's World Cup in Qatar, Union and Freiburg's performances might suffer from playing in three competitions at the same time. Slipping back into the middle of the table is realistic for the two sides.

Does any other team have the ability to fit into Cinderella's glass slipper this year? One of the fallen giants could make a surprising impact and return to the end of the table.

The club has been promoted back to the top flight in Germany. The club's hierarchy had to sell off most of the team's best players until 2020 due to mounting debt and financial constraints. The embarrassment of being demoted to the 2 was due to a number of ill-advised managerial appointments. The Royal Blues spent a year in the top league.

This team is not as strong as past teams, which would make a run towards European places somewhat of a miracle, but perhaps now that there is less pressure on the club, they can become overachievers.

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How will everyone contend with the winter break?

Fans of the clubs in the Bundesliga knew what to do between the holidays and the end of the year. As the league had implemented a lengthy winter break to give everyone some rest and to honor the fact that under-soil heating has not yet been installed in every stadium, supporters streamed into indoor arenas and watched indoor football. The winter break in the league was shortened to two weeks.

As the World Cup in November will affect the schedule of practically every league in Europe, we will see another temporary alterations and teams will have to deal with an incredibly short timetable. They won't get a break until November. The league won't start immediately after the World Cup ends. The Hallenmasters, a tournament crowning Germany's indoor champion, should be brought back to life for a short time. The tournament was hosted by the German FA several times between 1987 and 2001. The small club from theMunich suburbs beat the big club in a penalty shoot out to win the Hallenmasters.

You probably remember those tournaments well if you've seen them. Let's hope you'll get a chance to see something like that in the future.

What are the Americans up to?

There is a look at the United States through the lens of the German league. Germany remains home to plenty of intrigue for followers of the USMNT despite the departures of Tyler Adams and Chris Richards.

He has become something of a mystery in the city. We haven't seen him on the field in a while. A muscle injury kept Reyna out of action until February. He played for the national team but was hurt again in April. The fact that he missed 34 games through injury last season has raised questions about his resilience.


The expectations for Gio Reyna were debated by the two men.

Terzic will need more time before he can depend on the 19-year-old to be a reliable option. Regardless of Reyna's injury troubles, the Germans still think of him as a good person. He could collide with Marco Reus if he returns to the pitch. Reus has the bonus of being the team captain, but he is not a pillar of the future. We should see more of him this season, but we need to be patient.

The same thing can be said for him. Shortly before his 19th birthday, the Texas native signed with Augsburg for a transfer fee of 20 million dollars. Fans in Germany had not heard of the American but were curious about what he could do. He wasn't a factor during his first few months in the country. In 475 minutes of playing time,Pepi didn't score a goal and was brought on as a substitute seven times.

Pepi seems to be seen as an alternative from the bench by the new manger. He brought him on in the 74th minute of the game. He has to prove he can compete in Germany's top flight in order to get more playing time.

Most American players in the German league have to be patient. The right-back has found himself on the bench more often than on the field.

He had a chance to play in the starting XI against Oberachern. There are two right-backs in the squad, one of which is 29 years old. If the Austrian slips, the spot should be taken by Scally. There isn't a lot of pressure on the young american. He should be helped so that he becomes a long-term option.

Jordan Pefok's situation isn't the same. When Awoniyi decided to leave Union Berlin, he left a lot of shoes to fill. The Union chose Washington, D.C.-born Pefoke to replace Awon.

He scored 22 goals for Young Boys in the Swiss league last season and put himself on the radar. Union would like him to play the same role as Awoniyi. In the first round of the DFB-Pokal, Pefok scored his first goal for Union in a hard fought win over Chemnitz. There is more to come from the newcomer who will be on the pitch Saturday.