The 2010-11 German Bundesliga begins again Friday with a more than mouth watering fixture to start a season which promises to again be one of the most competitive in Europe. The league itself is set to receive added attention stemming from the success of the German national team and various Bundesliga based players at the 2010 World Cup. For new fans, the Bundesliga boasts some of the best football and crowds in all of Europe and remains the model in how to manage the financial aspects of football.
Bundesliga Champions from the past two years Bayern Munich (2009-10) and VFL Wolfsburg (2008-09) will meet at the Allianz Arena in Munich before a packed and anxious crowd to open up the new season. It looks to be business as usual for Bayern Munich who haven’t made any notable transfers besides ending Toni Kroos’ loan deal with Bayern Leverkusen. Wolfsburg begin anew under the tutelage of former England and FC Twente boss Steve McClaren. McClaren’s appointment at Wolfsburg marks the first time an English manager has taken the helm of a club in the Bundesliga and has seen his stock rise again after his success in the Eredivisie with Twente.
Bayern Munich are coming off an incredibly successful season under coach Louis van Gaal who after a slowish start systematically pulled the strings which in turn saw Munich win their 22nd German Championship, reach the final of the Champions League and capture their 15th DFB-Pokal. All previous variables say confidence is running high in Munich as another campaign approaches. World Cup standouts Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Thomas Müller (Germany), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Arjen Robben (Netherlands) and Mark van Bommel (Netherlands) all apply their trade with Munich and their star power coupled with the brilliant Franck Ribery will ensure another successful season for Bayern.
Wolfsburg finished last campaign in 8th after a slow start under the eye of Armin Veh who was eventually sacked in January. Although Wolfsburg languished domestically, die Wolfe enjoyed a successful European campaign having advanced all the way to the quarter finals of the Europa League before being eliminated by eventual finalists Fulham.
As of press time, Wolfsburg have been successful in swatting off Juventus and their pursuit in all things Edin Džeko related. The 24 year old Bosnian striker scored 29 goals in all competitions for Wolfsburg last season but has been pushing for a move to the Bianconeri since the beginning of the summer. Reports also suggest the want-away goal getter has already agreed to personal terms with Juve and is simply waiting on the two clubs to reach an agreement.
Wolfsburg will want to hold onto the Bosnian international Džeko or find a like replacement such as Brazilian play-maker Diego who looks set to be swapped to Wolfsburg from Juve with Džeko headed in the opposite direction. Although the two are positionally different players, Diego has the ability to create for strikers and is brilliant at the set piece. No final deals have been reached for either player as the potential move looks to be slipping away.
Friday’s match between Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg won’t decide the title but it’ll go a long way in sending a message to the other title contenders in the league such as Schalke, Werder Bremen and Bayern Leverkusen if either of the teams is to win the match.
Tactically and with star winger Arjen Robben out injured, look for Bayern to set up with a back four of Badstuber, Demichelis, van Buyten and Lahm in front of Butt in goal. Mark van Bommel and Bastian Schweinsteiger will hold in the middle with a possible combination of Altintop and Kroos on the wings. Ivica Olic is also out injured which will leave Miroslav Klose up front with Thomas Muller just behind him in an attacking role. Franck Ribery will likely not feature due to his ongoing legal issues.
As for Wolfsburg, they’ve been slightly more busy in the comings and goings of players over the summer. In at Wolfsburg is central defender Simon Kjaer from Palermo, forward Mario Mandzukic from Dinamo Zagreb, and defender Arne Friedrich from Hertha Berlin. Out is striker Obafami Martins, defender Ricardo Costa and midfielder Christian Getner so it’s likely McClaren will take a few weeks to settle on his best starting XI.
I look for Bayern Munich to carry on business as usual and hope that Steve McClaren can inject the new manager gusto into his squad. A Wolfsburg win would be somewhat of an upset and with Munich at home in front of their faithful, look for Munich to scratch out a close win in an exciting match.