I’m ready. I bet you are too.
As Niklas and Cristian pointed out on the latest Bundesliga Fanatic podcast, it’s been a wait of 111 days to the kickoff of the 50th Bundesliga season. But finally the season is ready to begin, with holders Borussia Dortmund hosting Werder Bremen Friday — and the kickoff isn’t coming any too early.
For those of us who live and breathe the excitement, unpredictability and competitiveness of Bundesliga football, Friday is our New Year’s Day. Without being condescending, we know which domestic league delivers the most goals and most thrills year in and year out.
Normally the Bundesliga season is one of the first of the big five European leagues to kick off in August, along with Ligue 1, but this season not only the French league but also the EPL and La Liga are underway before there has been a serious kick in Germany’s top division.
Despite the long layoff from the end of last season to the start of this one, there has been plenty to foreshadow the upcoming season of excitement. Bayern München stated that “THIS WILL NOT STAND” in the German SuperCup two weeks ago, defeating the Borussia Dortmund side that has been a source of humiliation the last two years. Runners-up in the Pokal, the Champions League and the Bundesliga last year, the Bavarians under new Sporting Director Matthias Sammer look re-dedicated, re-energized and really ready to wrestle the salad plate away from their Ruhr Valley rivals.
Last weekend gave us the first round of the DFB Pokal….with fully one-third of the first division Bundesliga sides eliminated by lower division clubs, we certainly are reminded that reputations mean less in German football than performance on the pitch — a club has to leave it all on the field week in and week out to find success.
The first two matchdays in 2. Bundesliga also show the unpredictably of German football. Only Eintracht Braunschweig of the 18 second division clubs has a perfect league record after only TWO matchdays. Tradition-laden bigger clubs such as Hertha Berlin, 1. FC Köln, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and St. Pauli are finding out that earning three points in the lower tier of Bundesliga football isn’t much easier than earning them in the top flight.
In early European competition, we’ve seen Hannover with three wins in three matches, although they had to hustle to beat a proud Slask Wroclaw side Thursday 5-3 in Poland, while big-spending Borussia Mönchengladbach took an early lead at Borussia Park in Champions League action only to surrender three goals to Dynamo Kyiv and VfB Stuttgart needed the prolific scoring skills of Vedad Ibišević to win their first leg tussle with Dinamo Moscow. With Bundesliga clubs, it seems any outcome is possible.
This season we will miss the classy Spaniard, Raul, as well as the cheery if dangerous electrical sparks generated by Shinji Kagawa and the lethal left foot possessed by Lukas Podolski. But being Bundesliga die-hards, we are fully cognizant that other, newer talents will arrive on the scene this season to cheer for. We’re anxious to see how Marco Reus fits into the mesmerizing Dortmund attack, if Jupp Heynckes will find room for the talented young Mr. Shakiri in his starting XI and if the excitement generated by Mr. Selassie in this summer’s Euros will translate to success at his new home in Bremen.
The wait is almost over as the clock ticks down to 20:30 Friday at Signal Iduna Park. Happy New Year !!!