Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bundesliga is back - Matchday 1 2013-14

The Bundesliga kicks off its 51st season on Friday August 9th.  Two newly promoted teams have joined the league.  Hertha BSC Berlin returned after a one year absence and Eintracht Braunschweig will attempt to make the top tier. 

German soccer starts the season on top of Europe with Bayern Munich as the defending Champions League winner and Borussia Dortmund is the second best club in Europe, as the other Champions League finalist.  The two clubs met Barcelona and Real Madrid in the semi-final and defeated them convincingly in both legs.  Needless to say the world and Europe will watch to see if the Bundesliga can repeat this outstanding performance.

The road to the top of Europe and the Bundesliga is long and demanding.  While there is the general belief that FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be top contenders to capture the Bundesliga, winning the Champions League will be much more difficult.  During the next few months these two clubs will also have the extra pressure to provide players to Team DFB to complete the World Cup 2014 qualification.  Both teams have advanced to the second round of the DFB Cup. 

FC Bayern is the record champion and started its place at the top in 1969.  Dortmund's success came later on, winning the first championship in 1995.  A complete list of league champions is located at the DFB website.

The season opener will be played, fittingly, in the Allianz Arena when FC Bayern hosts Borussia Moenchen-Gladbach.  In preseason play Bayern rolled over Gladbach 5-0.  While this may not the result of Friday's match, Bayern can be widely expected to pick up its first three points.  In pre-season play Bayern also defeated FC Barcelona 4-0, but lost 2-1 to Dortmund in the DFB Super Cup.

Borussia Dortmund will travel to Augsburg on Saturday to play its season opener.  Augsburg had a great post winter break season and Dortmund will have its hands full with the Bavarian side.  While Dortmund is expected to win the three points, it will not be without a good fight from Augsburg.

Bayer Leverkusen, which should be a top contender this year, will host SC Freiburg.  While Freiburg was successful in its own right last season, Leverkusen has the edge to win.   In the remaining matches on Saturday Hannover hosts Wolfsburg as the home pitch favorite.  Hoffenheim host 1.FC Nuernberg and if the DFB Cup performance is any indication, Hoffenheim should be a different team this year.  Nuernberg should win this contest.

In its season debut Hertha BSC Berlin hosts Eintracht Frankfurt.  This will be a challenge for the Berliners.  Given Frankfurts performance last season, this should result in a win for the Hessen.  Newcomer Eintracht Braunschweig hosts Werder Bremen and has an easier task than Berlin.  Bremen will want to forget last season and avoid fighting from the relegation zone.   This match should be close.

On Sunday Mainz 05 hosts VFB Stuttgart.  A slight home advantage goes to Mainz.  Schalke hosts the Hamburger SV in the final game of matchay 1.  Schalke will be a formidable opponent at home and will likely send the Hanseaten packing.

The long anticipated season will no doubt produce surprises and disappointments.  While one can hedge the bet on potential winners, the only certainty is that soccer in Germany will be exciting and the venues will be sold out. 

Matchday 1 - Fixtures:

Friday, August 9
FC Bayern vs M'gladbach

Saturday, August 10

Bayer Leverkusen vs SC Freiburg
Hannover 96 vs VfL Wolfsburg
1899 Hoffenheim vs Nürnberg
FC Augsburg vs Borussia Dortmund
Hertha BSC Berlin vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht Braunschweig vs Werder Bremen

Monday August 11

FSV Mainz 05 vs VfB Stuttgart
FC Schalke 04 vs Hamburger SV

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