Five Questions Ahead of Bundesliga Matchday 1

The wait is finally over and the new 2019/20 Bundesliga season is upon us. There are so many questions ahead of the new campaign, but ahead of matchday 1 we take a closer look at five talking points as a way of previewing the weekend’s action.

1. Can Hertha Berlin throw a spanner in the opening night works?

For the past six seasons the opening Friday night fixture has seen champions Bayern Munich opening proceedings at the Allianz Arena, and for the past six seasons they have emerged comfortable winners.  Could this year’s sacrificial lambs Hertha Berlin buck the trend?

Down the years Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Mönchengladbach have all gone into the first game full of optimism, but left with nothing.

The Old Lady’s past record doesn’t hold out much hope however. In their past twelve matches at the Allianz Arena, Hertha have been beaten eleven times and secured just one draw (0-0  in 2017/18).

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“We face the toughest opponents in the Bundesliga on matchday one, but the anticipation is huge” Hertha coach Ante Covic said in his press conference this week. “Everyone is on zero points so we have every chance of coming away with a result. We will be taking the match very seriously.”

Striker Salomon Kalou is excited, if not exuding optimism. “They’re certainly a very strong outfit, but we’ll give them a good game! We’re incredibly motivated travelling to Munich because we feel we have nothing to lose. We have to enjoy that feeling!”

The betting man will however be betting on red, not blue on Friday.

2. Will Mainz and Augsburg end a bad week badly?

Every year we have one or two Bundesliga clubs who come a cropper in the first round  of the DFB Pokal and exit at the hands of lower league opposition. It is not only humiliating, but not exactly the ideal preparation a week before the season begins.

This year it was poor Mainz and FC Augsburg, whose Cup runs ended at the first hurdle. Sandro Schwarz’s Mainz were  beaten 2-0 by former giants (but now 3.Liga) FC Kaiserslautern. FC Augsburg were  shocked by minnows SC Verl.

Both now go into the opening weekend on a downer, and face the prospect of experiencing the worst possible start to the season. Both also face very difficult fixtures as they seek to stop a bad week getting worse.

Augsburg travel to Dortmund with the unenviable task of stopping the Schwarzgelben, while Mainz are also on the road in the Schwarzwald as they face Freiburg.

3. Who will win the Battle of the East?

The fairy tale story this season surely must be Union Berlin competing in the Bundesliga for the first time after overcoming VfB Stuttgart in last seasons play-off.

They have a home game to get things underway in the shape of  RB Leipzig. There is no love lost between the two sides with the Union ultras announcing a 15-minute atmosphere boycott at the start of Sunday’s match in protest at what they deem the Leipzig ‘construct’ that goes against their footballing philosophy.

The sides have met on four previous occasions in Bundesliga.2. Union won their first ever encounter 2-1 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei back in September 2014, but Leipzig have won two and drawn the others.

It promises to be an intriguing match in the capital on Sunday to complete the weekend action.

4. How will the post-Nagelsmann era start at Hoffenheim?

There are a number of interesting coaching changes going into the new season, but perhaps the most interesting is that in Hoffemheim, where Alfred Schreuder will be looking to start a new era at the Rhein Neckar Arena.

There can be no denying the huge impact Julian Nagelsmann had on the club. Struggling against relegation when he took over in February 2016, he took them to Champions League qualification within just two years.

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Schreuder’s job now is to maintain the Sinsheim club’s position as regular European qualifiers. He has lost key players Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri, Nico Schulz and Joelinton, but Alexander Rosen has worked his magic and signed a number of promising replacements. The key  defensive unit is there, while Andrej Kramaric will still hopefully be banging in the goals.

Schreuder does however face a tricky opener away against Eintracht Frankfurt.

5. How much are you looking forward to the start of the season?

The season break seems to drag on forever, especially in a non-World Cup/ European Championship year. We had the Women’s World Cup, but the onset of the new Bundesliga season raises the excitement.

I for one will be abandoning my family this weekend to watch as much of the opening weekend as possible after weeks of starvation.

Bring on the Bundesliga!

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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