The waiting is almost over. If, like me, you love European football and can't wait to get going again up and down the continent then fear not, for Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga return to screens and pitches tomorrow evening! The Champions, as is traditional, kick the season off with the Friday night game and a home clash, this time against relegation play-off regulars Hamburg. After another woeful season (and having already been dumped out of the Pokal this season) the Dinosaurs of the Bundesliga are looking ever more likely to drop through the trap door. What odds an upset? Astronomical!
The German champions return with a healthy reality check in the form of the German Supercup defeat to VfL Wolfsburg. If nothing else it proves that they are not infallible. The addition of Douglas Costa appears to be a masterful move and the pace and trickery of the Brazilian winger has already caught the eye in pre-season. He could be the missing piece that Bayern have desperately needed in the last two seasons, replacing the ageing and injury-prone Franck Ribery and taking the pressure off Dutch flyer Arjen Robben. With the departure of club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger and the potential sales of Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze if reports are to be believed things haven't been all rosy in the Bavarian capital, but they should have no problems dispatching of Hamburg. Striker Robert Lewandowski and Robben should both be fit and firing and the addition of Costa on the opposite wing will bring creativity and spark. They won't concede, it is almost guaranteed: Hamburg scored less than a goal a game last season and with the impressive Bayern defence still intact from last season there should be a shut out and plenty of possession for Bayern in their season opener. The question will be whether they can break down the Hamburg defence. Spoiler: almost certainly.
Where to begin... Knocked out of the cup by Jena, top players leaving the club on a regular basis and very few impressive arrivals to bolster the squad they could be in for another season of struggle, particularly in front of goal. With Ivica Olic (now 36) their star man in attack, and Pierre-Michel Lasogga and other rag-tag discards from other Bundesliga clubs making up the numbers, they are really going to struggle to find goals. Their defensive record wasn't too bad though so they could frustrate Bayern (and the rest of us watching at home) by defending for a 0-0 draw. That could work, although the chances of keeping the overwhelming favourites at bay for 90 minutes seems minimal. Still, be aware that this could easily stay under 2.5 goals and be a bore fest.
Bayern are clear favourites and I have them down to win 2-0. BTTS is a definite no in my opinion and under 2.5 goals could be a good option due to the tight defensive nature of the Hamburg game plan. However the last time these two met Bayern netted 6 and Hamburg have a habit of starting the season very slowly. It could easily be a drubbing but I just have that feeling that it will be a tense affair to start the season.
First Goalscorer: Lewandowski
Anytime Scorer: Robben
Long Shot: Costa
So the season returns! There are going to be a flurry of blogs in the next few days and obviously over the course of the season I will be posting on a regular basis. Remember to enter the fantasy football league if you haven't already, it isn't too late!
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