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 Post subject: Bundesliga 2012/13 Preview: Part 3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:27 pm 

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Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom
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Borussia Mönchengladbach
From almost certain relegation to Champions League in one year: some Gladbach fans are still pinching themselves now. Two seasons ago, the club finished 16th and survived the relegation play-off against VfL Bochum by just one goal. Safe to say even the most optimistic fans were not expecting what was to happen in the next campaign. Doing the double over Bayern Munich would have been incredible enough, but The Foals racked up some impressive results – such as a 5-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen and a 3-0 victory over Schalke – on their way to finishing 4th and qualifying for the Champions League. Masterminded by Swiss gaffer Lucien Favre and spearheaded by attacking talisman Marco Reus, Gladbach scored in excess and conceded few goals. Now, with Reus gone (along with centre-back Dante and midfielder Roman Neustädter) and Favre compensated with €17m, he has strengthened his squad in all areas. The additions of Alvaro Dominguez, Granit Xhaka, Peniel Mlapa and coveted Dutch striker Luuk de Jong have put losing Reus to the back of most fans’ minds. Matching last season’s finish would be an incredible achievement, but consolidating a top six finish would be just as impressive in my eyes.
Player to watch: Granit Xhaka
Predicted finish: 6th

Bayer Leverkusen
The perennial underachievers of the Bundesliga, tastefully nicknamed ‘Neverkusen.’ You never really know which Bayer will turn up on the day, which usually makes their games quite exciting. Sometimes we are treated to the free flowing Bayer who are able to move the ball efficiently and score goals; other times they cannot for the life of them see out a game. At the start of the last campaign – under then manager Robin Dutt – it was usually the latter. Dutt was sacked at the beginning of April following a 2-0 defeat to Freiburg, and former Bayer defender and Liverpool legend Sami Hyypiä was brought in on a caretaker basis. After a much improved tail end of the season, Hyypiä was given the job full time amid much optimism about what his side can do. Defender Philipp Wollscheid and striker Junior Fernandes are the club’s biggest summer signings, while the return of winger Sidney Sam will make for the same effect. As ever, the link up in attack between Stefan Kieβling and Andre Schürrle will be pivotal to Bayer’s success. A Europa League spot is most definitely achievable for Hyypiä’s side but they may just lack that extra quality to push on for a Champions League place.
Player to watch: Karim Bellarabi
Predicted finish: 5th

Werder Bremen
The Werder Bremen of late has been far from the Werder Bremen we have become accustomed to. After finishing 3rd in the Bundesliga and winning the DFB-Pokal in 2010, Werder have slumped to 13th and 9th places finishes in the past two seasons. Thomas Schaaf, now in his 13th year in charge of the Weser club, has been excellent in the market this summer as he looks to turn Werder’s fortunes around like only he knows how. Theodor Gebre Selassie, Eljero Elia, Assani Lukimya, Nils Petersen and Kevin de Bruyne have improved Werder’s squad immensely. They have played some impressive football in pre-season and even beat champions Borussia Dortmund in the pre-season Liga Total Cup. Perhaps I’m a little too impressed with some pre-season football that doesn’t mean anything come the time the league starts, or the signings are getting to my head. Either way, expect a considerable improvement from Werder this year.
Player to watch: Theodor Gebre Selassie
Predicted finish: 4th

Schalke 04
Every time I look at Schalke’s squad, I can’t help but be drawn instantly to two names: Lewis Holtby and Julian Draxler. These two attacking midfielders both have massive potential and their exploits this season will influence Schalke’s finishing position without a doubt. A repeat of last season would likely go down pretty well in Gelsenkirchen (minus the two derby losses to Dortmund). 3rd place in the Bundesliga table, a European adventure to the Europa League quarter-finals and 48 goals in all competitions for Bundesliga top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made for a pretty successful season for Huub Stevens. With Schalke back in the Champions League again their squad, improved by the signings of Roman Neustädter and Tranquillo Barnetta, looks pretty strong for an assault on three competitions – but don’t be surprised if Stevens focuses on a high league finish. Raul’s impact in Gelsenkirchen shocked many and with the Spaniard gone along with his retired number 7 shirt, Holtby and Draxler will be looking to match his attacking influence this season.
Player to watch: Julian Draxler
Predicted finish: 3rd

Bayern Munich
Try as hard as they might to forget it, the disappointment that was last season will still be hurting Bayern. Runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the Champions League, Bayern executed stage one of their plan for revenge last week by beating champions Borussia Dortmund to claim the Supercup in Munich. Now the hard work begins as the Bavarians attempt to oust Dortmund from their lofty perch as Germany’s current top dogs. Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss the start of the season, and Jupp Heynckes also has to contend with injuries to David Alaba and Diego Contento at left-back – meaning youngster Emre Can may be forced to deputise in defence in Fürth. Five new players have joined Bayern this summer, including defender Dante and strikers Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro, along with talented winger Xherdan Shaqiri. Mandzukic is likely to play in Gomez’s absence and Shaqiri faces the unenviable task of trying to displace Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery on the wings. Bayern will be extremely driven to succeed this season, and their extra quality might just see them over the final hurdle.
Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri
Predicted finish: 2nd

Borussia Dortmund
In the eyes of Dortmund fans, Jürgen Klopp is the best manager in the world. The former Mainz boss came to a struggling Dortmund with a blueprint for success which has seen his team become Bundesliga champions in successive seasons. Last year also marked the first time in Dortmund’s history that they had managed to complete the domestic double of league and cup, not to mention playing some exceptional football along the way. Dortmund’s game, based on constant pressing; work rate and penetrative football, has seen the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze and Shinji Kagawa become household names. Those still sceptical about Klopp’s ability as a manager would be hard pressed to find an answer to how you can make a squad stronger after losing a player like Kagawa. But Klopp has done just that. Marco Reus – fresh from a sensational season with Borussia Mönchengladbach – re-joins his hometown club and Julian Schieber, Leonardo Bittencourt and Oliver Kirch have also become Dortmund players. This time round, Dortmund will be looking for a better showing in Europe, but the mass of games may just affect their league form. Expect this season to go down to the wire again.
Player to watch: Moritz Leitner
Predicted finish: Champions



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Adam Ghidouche
Liverpool FC | Borussia Dortmund
Twitter: @adam17ghidouche
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