Bundesliga 2022/23 Outright Preview & Predictions

Andy

Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Bayern Munich clinched their 10th consecutive Bundesliga title last year and as has been the case for some time, with relative ease. Hansi Flick’s departure at the end of the 2020/21 season saw the appointment of RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann. There had been question marks whether a move to Bayern came too early for Nagelsmann, but the 35-year-old handled expectations and pressure with ease. Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer followed Nagelsmann to Bayern from Leipzig last summer. Neither excelled but both started in the Supercup despite coming close to leaving the club this summer.

Every season, winning the Bundesliga is an absolute bare minimum. Despite spending shy of €60m last summer, their signings failed to shine which prompted Bayern’s hierarchy to dig deep this year. Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch arrived from Ajax for a combined €18.5m – the former a significant upgrade at right-back and Gravenberch provides competition for Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in midfield. Matthijs de Ligt comes to Bayern from Juventus for €67m and alongside Lucas Hernandez, Tianguy Nianzou and Upamecano, strengthens Bayern’s defence.

Prior to the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona for €45m, Bayern Munich announced the signing of Sadio Mane from Liverpool. A snip at €32m, Mane won every trophy at Liverpool and shows that the Bundesliga can still attract the big names. This could potentially be the signing of the summer across European football. The Senegalese forward has very few weaknesses and provides Nagelsmann with a new look attack. Mathys Tel (17) also comes from Rennes for €20m.

Lewandowski scored 35 Bundesliga goals in 34 games last season and has scored 238 league goals in 253 games for Bayern Munich. Arguably the best No. 9 in European football at present, Lewandowski will be missed but his departure also kickstarts a new era at Bayern Munich. Niklas Süle, Omar Richards, Chris Richards and Marc Roca also depart for €32.5m but after a poor couple of transfer windows, Bayern have outdone themselves on the transfer market this summer.

Hasan Salihamidžić, Marco Neppe and Nagelsmann have all done an incredible job with recruitment. They’ve identified areas of weakness and not only replaced outgoing players with incredible talent but have also attracted some world class names to Bavaria. There’s no doubt that Bayern Munich have the best squad in the league.

Verdict

Like most Bundesliga clubs, Bayern Munich have done incredibly well to get their business done prior to the season starting. Since the departure of Pep Guardiola in 2016, we’ve seen Bayern predominantly stick to their 4-2-3-1 but the sale of Lewandowski to Barcelona could signify a shift as Nagelsmann enters his second season as coach. Without a No. 9 in the squad, early suggestions show that he could opt for a 3-5-2, which is exciting.

Bayern may struggle to replace the goals of Lewandowski alone and so it’s important for players such as Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman to up their game. Lewandowski’s departure could turn out to be a blessing in disguise and despite strong recruitment from Borussia Dortmund, it’s not quite as good as Bayern and that’s why I’ve tipped Nagelsmann to win successive league titles and finish 1st in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.


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Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Borussia Dortmund finished eight points and runners-up behind Bayern Munich last season, an improvement from their previous year when they finished 3rd and 14 points behind the eventual champions. But despite the close points gap, BVB fans will feel rather disappointed with Bayern Munich by far from their absolute best. Marco Rose’s tenure started well with eight wins and two defeats from their opening 10 Bundesliga games but suffered a slump towards the end, three defeats in seven games ultimately ending their hopes of a Bundesliga title. With that, club bosses and Rose decided to part ways after just one season. Edin Terzic was appointed in the summer.

Whilst Terzic returned to the position of head coach after having the job on an interim basis in December 2020, BVB’s best appointment is perhaps that of former captain, Sebastian Kehl, who has been named as sporting director following the departure of Michael Zorc. It’s certainly been a busy summer for the recruitment team, who have made no less than five signings for the first team, all of which significantly improve the current squad.

Nico Schlotterbeck, one of the Bundesliga’s best central-defenders last season, joins from Freiburg for €20m and is joined by Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule, who adds vital international experience to the squad. The duo significantly improves the defence and gives Terzic an option to play either four or three at the back. Emre Can was poor last season and so the €5m arrival of Salih Ozcan from Cologne has the potential to be a key signing for BVB – under Steffen Baumgart last season, Ozcan developed significantly as a No. 6 and offers stability and is potentially an upgrade on Axel Witsel.

Witsel, Roman Burki and Marwin Hitz all left on free transfers and Steffen Tigges has joined Cologne for €1.5m. The departure of Erling Haaland will certainly be felt. Joining Manchester City for €60m, the Norwegian scored 85 goals and created eight in 88 games for BVB, and so they face a big task to replace Haaland’s output. Karim Adeyemi, one of Germany’s biggest attacking talents, arrives from RB Salzburg for €30m. His versatility will be an asset to Terzic, and he’s joined by Sebastien Haller. The French-Ivorian was diagnosed with a testicular tumour in pre-season and has since undergone surgery and will undergo chemotherapy. BVB could re-enter the market for short-term replacement. When fit, Haller will be an exciting addition to this squad following 21 goals in 31 league games for Ajax last season. The 28-year-old also finished top scorer in the Champions League with 11 goals. At €31m, Haller could be just the profile they need in an attacking sense to take them to a Bundesliga title.

Terzic returning and Kehl as sporting director promises to be an exciting partnership. They’ve worked tremendously well over the summer period and have significantly improved the squad with domestic players (Schlotterbeck, Sule and Ozcan), but also talent (Adeyemi) and have signed a prolific scorer (Haller). They’re certainly in for a good season.

Verdict

Last season was certainly an improvement but suffered defeats against Hertha Berlin and Bochum, two teams that they should be beating. If they want to challenge Bayern Munich for the title, they also must beat the Bavarians at least once. They’ve recruited well and whilst Terzic may be a little inexperienced, he’s an exciting appointment. BVB should have a good Bundesliga campaign and at least close the gap, but I still don’t think it’ll be enough, which is why I’ve predicted them to finish runners-up again.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Gerardo Seoane’s first season in charge of Bayer Leverkusen was an impressive one. The former Young Boys head coach took B04 back into the Champions League following a two-year absence, largely down to the performance of their attacking trio of Patrik Schick, Moussa Diaby and Florian Wirtz. Schick scored 24 Bundesliga goals in 27 games last season and in his second year at the club, created a formidable partnership with Frenchman Diaby.

A 3rd placed finish last season was a vast improvement from their sixth place in the 2020/21 campaign. Wirtz would score seven and create 10 in 24 games at 19-years-old before picking up an ACL injury that would rule him out for the season. Diaby also had his best return in the Bundesliga with 13 goals and 12 assists in 32 games – the French attacker has also stated that he will remain at the club to play Champions League football despite interest from Newcastle United.

In terms of transfer business, Bayer Leverkusen have been rather quiet, but they already boast a strong, youthful squad. They’ve added talented Czech forward Adam Hlozek (19) to their squad from Sparta Prague for €12m, he can not only lead the line but can play in any attacking position, which suits Seoane’s 4-2-3-1 down to a T.

Not only have B04 managed to keep Schick, Wirtz and Diaby but Edmond Tapsoba and Piero Hincapie will likely remain at the Bundesliga club unless a significant off comes in for the defenders. In terms of outgoings, Mitchell Weiser joins Werder Bremen on a free transfer after spending the season on loan there and Lucas Alario joins Eintracht Frankfurt for €7m – neither of which will be missed with the talent that this Bayer Leverkusen squad has on show.

On paper, Bayer Leverkusen have probably the best young squad in the Bundesliga. They’ve always recruited well, and their current squad showcases that. Unless a player leaves, it’s difficult to see where they can improve in the transfer market.

Verdict

It was difficult to gauge just how well Seoane would do in his first year as Bayer Leverkusen head coach but with a return to Champions League football, it’s safe to say that he exceeded those expectations. It’s now time for Seoane to build on his first year and with the current squad remaining together, barring Alario, a similar finish is possible.

Even with the injury to Wirtz, Bayer Leverkusen didn’t really struggle towards the end of the season. With a fully fit squad, B04 can certainly challenge Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but they’ll likely be challenging Leipzig for 3rd. It’s a place that I think B04 can pip Domenico Tedesco’s Leipzig to, which is why I’ve tipped them for 3rd in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

At one point last season, it looked as though Champions League football for RB Leipzig was off the cards. Jesse Marsch was appointed last summer but would win just five of his 14 Bundesliga games before being replaced by Domenico Tedesco. The 36-year-old would not only pick up 12 wins in 20 Bundesliga games and average two points per match but would also guide RB Leipzig to the DFB Pokal final and clinch their first major trophy following a penalty shootout against Freiburg.

Tedesco and CEO Oliver Mintzlaff have also done a remarkable job on the transfer market. Tyler Adams, Hwang Hee-chan, Brian Brobbey and Nordi Mukiele leave for a combined €65.1m which is excellent business considering they’re not the players that Tedesco desires to take Leipzig to the next level, and to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title.

On the arrival front, Leipzig have been rather quiet but pulled off a transfer coup in signing Xaver Schlager from fellow Bundesliga side Wolfsburg for €12m. The Austrian is an upgrade of Adams and will provide competition for Kevin Kampl and Amadou Haidara. Janis Blaswich also arrives on a free transfer to provide competition for Peter Gulacsi.

Although a quiet window by their standards so far, Leipzig have perhaps pulled off one of the signings of the summer in David Raum. The German left-back created 13 goals last season and the quality and accuracy of his crosses are some of the best in European football, a steal at a reported €30m.

Perhaps the best piece of business this summer though is the contract extension of Christopher Nkunku. The Frenchman has signed a new deal until 2026 despite interest from Manchester United. Nkunku, who is primarily an attacking-midfielder, operated as a forward last season and scored 35 and created 20 across 52 games in all competitions.

On paper, Leipzig have always had a strong squad. They finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the 2016/17 and 2020/21 seasons but have yet to really challenge Bayern for the title. But now, they have a head coach in Tedesco – who guided Schalke to second in 2018 – to do so and players such as Josko Gvardiol, Nkunku and Andre Silva to challenge those above them.

Verdict

Considering their poor start last season under Marsch, Tedesco did an incredible job to secure Champions League football. They face another tough task ahead of them with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund strengthening their squads, whereas Leipzig have only made one key signing. If Leipzig are to challenge Bayern for the title, Nkunku has to be at his best again but with 55 goal contributions across 52 games last season, it would be tough for the Frenchman to replicate that kind of form. I don’t think Leipzig are quite there just yet, which is why I’ve again tipped them to finish 4th and secure Champions League football.


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Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Wolfsburg suffered a largely disappointing season last season after finishing in 12th. Not only that, but they were also disqualified from the DFB Pokal after making too many substitutes. Florian Kohfeldt replaced Mark van Bommel as head coach in October, a position he held until the end of the season. Niko Kovac was then appointed, returning to the Bundesliga after holding the same role at both Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich. Certainly a year to forget for the 2009 champions.

But the 2022/23 season under Kovac promises to be exciting. He won the DFB Pokal in 2018 with Eintracht Frankfurt and won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich the following year. There’s no doubting Kovac’s pedigree as a head coach and whilst he hasn’t built on earlier success, Wolfsburg gives him a platform to do so.

Deals for Jakub Kaminski and Patrick Wimmer for a combined €15m were agreed prior to the arrival of Kovac but he can be happy with Wolfsburg’s business – they’ve built on an area of the squad they’ve been weak in over the last two seasons. Xaver Schlager joined RB Leipzig for €12m with just one-year remaining on his Wolfsburg contract but is replaced by the talented Mattias Svanberg, who joins from Bologna for €9m. Compatriot Bartol Franjic joins from Dinamo Zagreb for €7.5m and offers defensive stability whilst signing Dzenan Pejcinovic from Augsburg for €1.25m – the 17-year-old is highly thought of in the German youth setup.

In terms of departures, the losses of Dodi Lukebakio, William and John Brooks won’t affect the balance too much and as mentioned, Svanberg also promises to be an exciting replacement for Schlager, who leaves after three years and 81 games across all competitions. Kevin Mbabu has also joined Fulham, but Ridle Baku is by far the superior right-back.

Wolfsburg’s squad is certainly impressive with Koen Casteels, Maxence Lacroix, Max Arnold, Baku and Jonas Wind offering an excellent spine. They have a plethora of attacking talent on show with Lukas Nmecha and Max Kruse and after underachieving last season, this squad really should be doing better with the experience they possess.

Verdict

Wolfsburg will certainly improve on last season. Kohfeldt was a little out of his depth and they’ve done well to secure the appointment of Kovac ahead of Hertha Berlin, who also showed an interest. They’ve made good enough signings so as to not miss Schlager in midfield, who was injury prone, and overall have improved their squad. This will be Wind’s first full season in the Bundesliga and since joining from Copenhagen in January, the Danish forward has already impressed. Wolfsburg will have a better campaign than they did last season and I fancy them to surprise many and finish in a European spot, so I’ve tipped them to finish 5th in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Despite finishing the 2021/22 Bundesliga season in 11th, Eintracht Frankfurt can be satisfied with their first year under Oliver Glasner. The Austrian endured a difficult start to his tenure with no Bundesliga win in their opening six games. Eintracht did redeem themselves over the Christmas period but failed to win any of their final eight league games as their attention turned towards the Europa League. Their European Cup run was an incredible feat for an Eintracht team that is undergoing a transition period. Wins at Barcelona and West Ham preceded Glasner’s side lifting the Europa League against Rangers in Seville.

Glasner had the difficult job of replacing André Silva, who scored 40 goals in 57 Bundesliga games before joining RB Leipzig last summer. They used that money to recruit Rafael Borré and Jesper Lindström for a combined €7m, the duo showcasing smart business from Eintracht’s recruitment team, despite not yielding Silva’s goal return.

This summer, Eintracht have been smart with their recruitment. Randal Kolo Muani (Nantes), Jérôme Onguéné (RB Salzburg) and Aurélio Buta (Royal Antwerp) all arrive on free transfers. Both Kristijan Jakic and Jens Petter Hauge have been signed on a permanent basis for a combined €15m following impressive loan spells and Lucas Alario comes from Bayer Leverkusen for €6m. Whilst not the high profile name fans may have wanted, Alario scored 58 and created 16 in 164 games for Leverkusen, averaging a goal contribution every 109 minutes. Mario Götze also returns to Germany for €4m. Again, showcasing smart recruitment by Eintracht.

Kevin Trapp saved 72.9% of shots faced last season, the third best in the Bundesliga and is an important member of this Eintracht squad with his leadership skills, even more so following the retirement of Martin Hinteregger. Fringe players such as Dominik Kohr and Steven Zuber have left, but SGE will also be wary that Evan Ndicka, Filip Kostić and Daichi Kamada are entering the final year of their contracts, although they are well equipped to deal with any potential departures.

One week out from the 22/23 Bundesliga season, Eintracht Frankfurt find themselves in an excellent position. New signings have added depth whilst Trapp, Sebastian Rode, Götze and Alario provide a strong spine and we can expect them to be tough to beat this season.

Verdict

Eintracht Frankfurt’s Europa League win has offset fans’ disappointment of finishing 11th and so an improvement this season is a must. On a relatively tight budget last season, they showed glimpses of excellence but with €28m spent so far this summer, fans will be expecting better in the Bundesliga. Despite wins against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen last season, they must turn their draws against smaller clubs such as Augsburg and relegated duo Greuther Fürth and Arminia Bielefeld into three points.

Don’t expect Glasner to deviate from his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation, but expect this to suit summer arrivals Kolo Muani, Götze and Alario. Wins against Barcelona and West Ham have shown us what this team is capable of and so I expect Eintracht Frankfurt to be higher up the league. They’ve finished eighth or higher in three of the last five seasons but given their recruitment and experience, I expect Eintracht Frankfurt to fight for a European spot and have tipped them to finish 6th in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.

Team: Eintracht Frankfurt


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Whilst we all appreciate Christian Streich, it still feels as though he’s largely underappreciated. Not only does his Freiburg side play excellent football, but he’s also up to date about current affairs and largely talks about important topics during his press conferences. Last season, he guided Freiburg to 6th and was just three points off a Champions League spot. An excellent achievement considering the budget of teams around them such as Eintracht Frankfurt and Co.

Freiburg will be playing Europa League football this season, but without Nico Schlotterbeck who has joined Borussia Dortmund for €20m. The 22-year-old, now Germany international, established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s best central-defenders last season but although his departure will hurt, they’ve more than made up for it with the arrival of Matthias Ginter on a free transfer.

Ginter returns to the club following spells at Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach and at 28, is just entering his prime. He will be an asset to Streich, someone who not only knows his former coach but the Bundesliga club. Ginter is joined by Michael Gregoritsch, he joins from Augsburg with Ermedin Demirovic heading in the opposite direction as a part exchange – Freiburg have certainly got themselves the better deal here. They also beat Werder Bremen and Mainz to the signing of Daniel-Kofi Kyereh from St. Pauli for €4m – he scored 12 and created 10 in 29 2. Bundesliga games last season and looks like incredible value for money. The Ghanaian also offers something different in attack from what they already have.

Freiburg have also signed Japan international Ritsu Doan from PSV for €8.5m. Doan returned to Germany after spending the 2020/21 season on loan at Arminia Bielefeld. Vincenzo Grifo has signed a contract extension and partnered with Doan, the duo looks to be quite the creative force heading into the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.

Verdict

Streich has built something rather special at Freiburg. Mark Flekken, Christian Günter, Ginter, Max Eggestein, Roland Sallai, Grifo, Doan and Nils Petersen are all excellent players to watch and SCF certainly have the capability to give teams such as Bayern Munich a run for their money. Champions League football was within their grasp this season and they will be up there challenging the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin for a place in Europe again. Freiburg put in some incredible performances last season and had they beat teams in the bottom half of the table, could well be playing Champions League football. I think Freiburg will have another strong campaign and so I’ve tipped them to finish 7th and whilst one place lower than last season, it still offers a place in European football and further foundations to build upon.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Urs Fischer and Union Berlin were magnificent last season and against all the odds, finished just one point behind RB Leipzig and a Champions League place. In the end, Union had to settle for 5th and Europa League football but for the second year running, they’ll be playing in Europe – something that was unthinkable even five years ago. Fischer again worked his magic.

Union Berlin have also managed to keep the core of their squad together but will be without Taiwo Awoniyi. A successful loan spell from Liverpool saw Union spend €8.5m to sign the Nigerian on a permanent basis – he repaid their faith by scoring 15 and creating two in 31 Bundesliga games last season. That resulted in a move to Nottingham Forest worth €20.5m, a fee too good to turn down for Union, and a transfer record. Other than that, the only noticeable departure is Grischa Prömel to fellow Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin on a free transfer and goalkeeper Andreas Luthe.

Awoniyi’s departure was a long time coming, with initial reports being published before the 2021/22 season had ended. That gave Union Berlin ample time to find a replacement. It comes in the form of Jordan Siebatcheu from Young Boys for €6m, which has the potential to be an excellent deal. The US international scored 22 and created four in 32 Super League games last season and is of similar profile to Awoniyi. In addition to the American, Union extended the contract of Sheraldo Becker and signed German youth international forward Jamie Leweling for €4m. Midfielders Morten Thorsby, Janik Haberer, Milos Pantovic and Paul Seguin also arrive for a combined €3m whilst Union also completed the signing of Porto defender Diogo Leite on loan. He followed the arrival of Danilho Doekhi from Vitesse on a free transfer.

It’s fair to say that Fischer and Co. have been busy this summer but an area that they struggled in last season was their squad depth, more so because of their inclusion in European football, resulting in more games. They won’t make that mistake again this season and have been able to master the transfer market, signing undervalued players such as Siebatcheu and Thorsby, both of whom add valuable experience to their squad ahead of a Europa League campaign.

Their ability to keep Becker and Paul Jaeckel will also benefit Union this season.

Verdict

Union Berlin certainly overachieved last season but at the same time, it wasn’t that unexpected. Fischer has an excellent squad at his disposal with immense potential. I don’t think they’ll be challenging for a Champions League spot in the coming season but certainly Europe, and that’s why I’ve predicted them in 8th. They’re still developing as a club in comparison to Freiburg whilst I think Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt had off seasons, and so I think Union will finish behind the trio. 8th place for Fischer and Union as they just miss out on European football.


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Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Bo Svensson has done a remarkable job following his appointment as head coach in January 2021. He secured their Bundesliga status after being threatened with relegation and last season, he took Mainz to 8th, narrowly missing out on European football. In his short time as Mainz head coach, Svensson has impressed with his attacking philosophy and his natural talent.

Mainz made €23.75m in transfer fees through the departure of Moussa Niakhaté (Nottingham Forest), Jeremiah St. Juste (Sporting CP), Luca Kilian (Cologne), David Nemeth (St. Pauli), Dimitri Lavalée (Mechelen) and Jonathan Meier (Dynamo Dresden). Kevin Stöger has also joined fellow Bundesliga side Bochum on a free transfer whilst French defender Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel has joined Strasbourg on loan. Jean-Paul Boëtius also decided against renewing his contract at Mainz and is available on a free transfer – the Dutchman is a loss to the Bundesliga club.

As per, Mainz have been working hard in the transfer market. They signed Marcus Ingvartsen, Dominik Kohr and Delano Burgzorg on permanent deals whilst reaching an agreement to sign Anthony Caci, Danny da Costa and Aymen Barkok on free transfers prior to the 2021/22 Bundesliga season ending. Maxim Leitsch impressed in his maiden Bundesliga season with Bochum and joined for €3.5m as a replacement for Niakhaté. M05 have also signed Angelo Fulgini from Angers for €5m, representing excellent value – his creativity will be valued following the departure of Boëtius.

Mainz were given a boost when Newcastle United target Jonathan Burkardt announced that he will stay at the Bundesliga club this season. The German youth international scored 11 and created three in 34 Bundesliga games last season and is guaranteed playing time at M05 – he could be a wildcard for Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad. Newly-capped Germany international Anton Stach will complement summer arrival Fulgini in midfield, which could be a promising partnership. 

Verdict

After being close to securing European football, Mainz finished 8th and eventually six points behind Cologne last season. Svensson is one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting and talented coaches, but he’ll have to deal with the loss of captain and defensive-stalwart Niakhaté and the creativity of Boëtius. Although 8th last season, they finished just one point above Borussia Mönchengladbach (10th), and this season will be every bit as challenging. For that, I think Mainz will struggle to replicate last season’s performances, given key departures, but they’ve made some impressive moves on the transfer market. I don’t think they’ll be able to finish as high as 8th, but could still cause European chasing teams various problems, and because of that I’ve predicted them to finish 9th.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

In his second season in charge, Sebastian Hoeneß failed to achieve European football which resulted in the former Bayern Munich II head coach mutually parting ways with the Bundesliga club. Former Schalke head coach André Breitenreiter has been appointed as Hoeneß’ successor after winning the Swiss Super League with FC Zürich last season.

He will however have to do without Chris Richards, who returned to Bayern Munich following an impressive loan spell whilst Florian Grillitsch decided against signing a contract extension at TSG, instead wanting to pursue options elsewhere – the Austrian was a key member of Hoffenheim’s squad last season and his versatility, composure and experience will be a loss. Joao Klauss, who spent last season on loan in Austria, has joined St. Louis City for €3.2m and Sargis Adamyan has joined Cologne for €1.5m. Kasim Adams also joined Basel on loan.

They’ve also lost their best creator in David Raum, who’s joined RB Leipzig. They have replacements within the squad but expect Hoffenheim to enter the market for a left-back, although Robert Skov and Marco John can both play there.

Hoffenheim have only made three signings so far this summer, but each adds something to the squad. Ozan Kabak has joined the club for €7m from Schalke – he spent last season on loan at Norwich City and whilst his development has stagnated, he’s only 22 and regular minutes at Hoffenheim could result in this being a successful signing. German youth international Finn Ole Becker also arrives on a free transfer from St. Pauli to strengthen their midfield whilst Grischa Prömel arrives from Union Berlin to add robustness and experience to TSG’s midfield.

Oliver Baumann, as always will remain a key player for Hoffenheim, whilst Andrej Kramaric has signed a recent contract extension that extends his stay beyond 2023. The Croatian forward struggled last season and failed to reach double figures in the Bundesliga for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign but remains an integral member of the current squad.

Verdict

With Kramaric, Ihlas Bebou and Gio Rutter, Hoffenheim boast an exciting, attacking trio. They’re clinical in front of goal and on their day, can be unplayable. Whilst they’ve made some good signings that add value to their squad, there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially following the departure of Grillitsch. Sporting director Alexander Rosen has made it known that he would like another defensive signing, but they also look short of creativity in midfield. The appointment of Breitenreiter also came as a surprise. He failed to impress during his spell at Schalke despite an incredible tenure at Paderborn. It would have been nice to see Hoffenheim try something new, like they did with the appointment of Hoeneß. Because of that, I don’t see them improving on last season’s 9th, instead have predicted them to finish 10th.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Borussia Mönchengladbach underachieved last season. Despite the appointment of Marco Rose, the Foals only managed to finish 10th, missing out on European football, despite boasting the exciting attack of Marcus Thuram, Breel Embolo and Alassane Plea. Not only did Gladbach struggle going forward last season, but they were defensively poor. Under Rose, Gladbach conceded 61 goals in 34 games – the third worst defence behind Greuther Fürth, who were relegated, and Hertha Berlin, who narrowly secured their Bundesliga status via the playoff.

They will also have to do without Matthias Ginter this season. A member of Germany’s squad that won the 2014 World Cup, the experienced Ginter returned to former side Freiburg on a free transfer after his contract expired. The 28-year-old will be a huge loss. Equally, so will Embolo. The Swiss forward enjoyed his highest scoring season in the Bundesliga with nine goals in 29 games last season but has joined AS Monaco. Other departures include fringe players László Bénes and Andreas Poulsen. Gladbach collected a combined €14m for their outgoing players.

Gladbach appointed Daniel Farke as Rose’s successor, his first job in the Bundesliga. The former Norwich City manager made it known during interviews that he intends to strengthen Gladbach’s defence, and he’s acted on that with the signing of Ko Itakura from Manchester City for €5m. Unfortunately, Gladbach just haven’t done as much business as fans would have hoped following their poor showing last season. Die Fohlen’s only other arrival is 18-year-old Oscar Fraulo from FC Midtjylland.

Jonas Hofmann will again be a key player for Gladbach this season, but his future remains uncertain. The 30-year-old Germany international is happy at Gladbach but has just 12 months remaining on his current deal. Talks regarding a contract extension for the player are ongoing. Hofmann scored 12 and created five from midfield in 26 Bundesliga games last season.

Gladbach haven’t been as active as they would have perhaps hoped this summer and are having difficulty navigating the market. The sale of Embolo to Monaco should create some funds but they have a lot of work to do with just one week remaining until the opening weekend.

Verdict

Farke arrived at Borussia Mönchengladbach via Krasnodar and Norwich City, but this is his first job in the Bundesliga. He spoke positively of the current squad and seems willing to be happy to work with the current players but knows that there’s a lot of work to be done, especially defensively. We could yet see key players such as Thuram and Hofmann depart. I don’t see how they can improve on last season when Rose was in charge. There’s a lot of work to be done here and that’s why I think they’ll finish one place lower than last season, in 11th.

Team: Borussia Mönchengladbach


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Steffen Baumgart achieved the unthinkable last season with Cologne. Appointed last summer, upon Cologne’s return to the Bundesliga, Baumgart guided the Billy Goats into 7th and secured a place in the UEFA Conference League. Had results gone their way in the final four games of the season, fourth place and Champions League football wasn’t entirely out of their reach. Mark Uth, Dejan Ljubicic, Timo Hübers and Marvin Schwäbe all arrived at the club on free transfers last summer – the quartet played their part, but it was Anthony Modeste’s 20 goals in 32 Bundesliga games, and his relationship with Baumgart, that guided Cologne back into European football.

Jannes Horn and Louis Schaub both played a bit-part role for Cologne last season and whilst adequate squad players, have left the club on free transfers. Baumgart and Cologne’s biggest loss will be that of 24-year-old defensive-midfielder Salih Ozcan, who joined Borussia Dortmund for €5m. After his career stagnated, the appointment of Baumgart moulded Ozcan into one of the best No. 6’s in the Bundesliga last season. A product of Cologne’s youth academy, Ozcan played 128 games across all competitions and his departure will certainly be felt in midfield.

More so considering Cologne’s recruitment has been hit and miss in the past five years. Eric Martel arrives from RB Leipzig for €1.2m as Ozcan’s replacement and central-midfielder Denis Huseinbasic, signed for €50,000, he has also looked promising in midfield. Kristian Pedersen adds experience and versatility in defence following a free transfer from Birmingham City and is joined by Linton Maina, who’s profile is one that Cologne’s wide areas have been missing. Cologne also made Luca Kilian’s move permanent whilst strengthening their attack. Sargis Adamyan (Hoffenheim) and Steffen Tigges (Borussia Dortmund) arrive for a combined €3m and will provide Modeste with competition.

Modeste has scored 79 goals across 156 games in all competitions in two spells at Cologne and whilst his goals are incredibly valuable, Jonas Hector’s importance to this team is untouchable. At 32, Hector almost joined Liverpool in 2018 but stuck with his boyhood club. Captain and 308 games later, Hector embodies the club and will be as every bit important as Modeste.

Modeste scored 38% of Cologne’s goals last season and so the recruitment team certainly needed to add attacking players to their squad to ease the burden. It’s fair to say that Cologne have been busy this summer. The arrivals of Adamyan and Tigges represent excellent value in the current market, but the departure of Ozcan in midfield will hurt them.  

Verdict

The truth is you never know what you’re going to get with Cologne. They’re the ‘yo-yo’ club of German football and it’s fair to say that their 7th place finish last season was certainly an overachievement. Baumgart has signed a contract extension and you can expect him to stick with his variant of a 4-4-2 formation. They’ve kept most of their squad together, but the departure of Ozcan will be a big loss – it will be interesting to see how Martel copes in that role. Unfortunately, I don’t see Cologne being able to repeat their excellent form last season and will instead be somewhere around mid-table, which is why I’ve predicted them to finish 12th. Ozcan’s departure will hurt them and Modeste isn’t getting any younger.


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Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Stuttgart could be playing 2. Bundesliga football this season but after a winner against Cologne in stoppage time on the final day of last season, VfB secured their Bundesliga status for another year. Head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo’s job was made much tougher with the injuries of Silas and Sasa Kalajdzic, who both missed a large chunk of football last season but recruited well with the loan signings of defender Hiroki Ito and Tiago Tomas.

Ahead of the 2022/23 Bundesliga season, Stuttgart signed Ito and Konstantinos Mavropanos on permanent deals for a combined €3.6m, representing excellent value, and the duo is joined by German youth international Josha Vagnoman, who joins from Hamburg for €3.7m. For a combined €7.3m for the trio, Stuttgart have significantly improved their defence and after one season together, it will only improve. After scoring 10 goals and creating four in 33 games for PAS Giannina last season, Stuttgart signed Juan José Perea for €2.4m, providing competition for Tomas.

They’ve also managed to keep the core of their squad together with Kalajdzic and Borna Sosa, but they will have to do without box-to-box midfielder Orel Mangala. The Belgian has joined Nottingham Forest, but should Stuttgart sell the trio, they can expect to receive around €50m to €60m in transfer fees however, with Mangala gone, if they lose Kalajdzic and Sosa too, it could upset their rhythm heading into the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.

Kalajdzic is no doubt Stuttgart’s key player but with just one-year remaining on his current deal, sporting director Sven Mislintat has a dilemma ahead of him. An offer of around €25m would be too good to turn down for someone in the final 12 months of his contract but finding someone to replace the Austrian’s goals one week out from the season start is a huge task. Of course, Kalajdzic could yet sign an extension if no offers entertain VfB – the 25-year-old has scored 22 and created eight in 48 Bundesliga games for Stuttgart.

Stuttgart moved quickly to secure the permanent signings of Ito and Mavropanos and unless Sosa leaves, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any further arrivals in defence. Perea is a relatively unknown but few attacking signings at Stuttgart have missed in recent years – the Swabians have an excellent recruitment network that they put to good use every year.

Verdict

It’s unlikely that Matarazzo will deviate from his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation, but it served the New Jersey born coach well during his time in the Bundesliga. A preference to play Kalajdzic as the No. 9 with two creative players on either side of him – in the coming season it would ideally be Tomas and Silas – Stuttgart boast an exciting attack, when fit. They’ve also recruited well defensively and are unlikely to sign further players, unless one of Kalajdzic, Sosa or Mangala departs. What happens in the final five weeks of the transfer window is likely to have a say on their 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign. If they manage to keep their squad together, coupled with the signings of Perea and Vagnoman, Stuttgart has one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting, and young, squads. That’s why I’ve predicted them to finish 13th and better than their 15th place last season.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

After being relegated in 2021, Werder Bremen returned to the Bundesliga at the first time of asking after finishing runners-up to Schalke in the 2021/22 2. Bundesliga season. At one point it looked as though Werder Bremen wouldn’t instantly return to the Bundesliga but the appointment of Ole Werner in November 2021 as a successor to Markus Anfang put Bremen on the right track. Werner would win 13 of his 19 league games as Bremen head coach, drawing four and losing two – finishing just two points behind Schalke. Marvin Ducksch was signed, and he would score 20 and create 10 in 29 2. Bundesliga games, helping SVW return to the Bundesliga.

Werder Bremen have managed to keep the core of their team together. From the first team, the departure of Omer Toprak is the only noticeable departure, but Werner and sporting director Frank Baumann have recruited well to replace the 32-year-old central-defender.

Niklas Stark has played 175 Bundesliga games for Hertha Berlin and arrives at the Weserstadion on a free transfer. He is joined by Amos Pieper, who also joins the club on a free transfer after his contract with relegated Arminia Bielefeld expired. Werder fought off several clubs to sign the latter and alongside Marco Friedl, who recently signed a contract extension and was appointed captain, formed a formidable defence. After 24 games last season, Mitchell Weiser also returns to the club on a free transfer from Bayer Leverkusen and is joined by Lee Buchanan, who signed from Derby County, on the other flank. Oliver Burke returns to Germany after several loan spells – the Scotland international has looked sharp in pre-season and could be a surprise signing. Bremen have also signed Jens Stage from Copenhagen for €4m, the Denmark international a smart acquisition.

With Jiri Pavlenka in goal, Niklas Stark and Amos Pieper in defence, Stage in midfield and Ducksch in attack, Werder Bremen have a strong spine to their squad. Ducksch (28) is relatively new to the Bundesliga, playing just 31 games for Fortuna Düsseldorf, Paderborn and Borussia Dortmund combined but his goalscoring record in the 2. Bundesliga is almost untouchable with 71 goals in 138 games combined for Hannover, Holstein Kiel, St. Pauli and Werder Bremen – Werner will certainly be hoping the German can remain sharp inside the area.

With a relatively small budget despite being one of the biggest teams in Germany, Werder Bremen have made use of the unattached players and see value in Stark and Co. They remain a little short in midfield, but Stage and Romano Schmid could form an excellent partnership.

Verdict

The main aim for Werder Bremen is to avoid relegation. And with the squad that they have and with Werner in the hot seat, that should certainly be achievable this season. Ducksch, Niclas Füllkrug and Burke should be able to provide the goals and despite losing Bundesliga veteran Toprak, they have a strong defence in Stark, Pieper and Friedl. The only worry for Werder Bremen is that their midfield is a little light and doesn’t boast too much creativity. It will be a long season for Werder Bremen but the fact that they’ve kept most of their squad and have improved in key areas, that should be enough to see them avoid the drop. Werner is also a talented coach and that’s why I’ve predicted them to finish 14th and higher than fellow promoted side Schalke.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Bochum impressed last season after returning to the Bundesliga for the first time in the 2009/10 season. Head coach Thomas Reis identifies with the club and did a magnificent job in securing their Bundesliga status for this season in April. He masterminded wins against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich last season but a tough job he faces is Bochum’s relatively small budget. Bochum has the smallest budget in the league, nearly half of Werder Bremen.

Reis’ job this season will be made even tougher following the departure of four key players from last season. Defensive duo Armel Bella-Kotchap and Maxim Leitsch leave for a combined €13.5m – Bochum received €10m from Southampton for Bella-Kotchap, a new club record and double of that they received for Leon Goretzka when he joined Schalke. Sebastian Polter has left for Schalke for €1.5m, he was their top scorer last season with 10 goals whilst Milos Pantovic has joined fellow Bundesliga side Union Berlin – the 26-year-old scored eight and created three in 32 games across all competitions last season and will be missed in attacking-midfield.

Bochum have spent just €750,000 in transfer fees this summer. Philipp Forster arrives from Stuttgart whilst Konstantinos Stafylidis provides competition to Danilo at left-back for €250,000. Jordi Osei-Tutu, Kevin Stoger, Jacek Gorlaski and Jannes Horn all arrive on free transfers but Reis’ best deal this summer is Philipp Hofmann. The former Brentford striker has scored 49 goals in 96 league games for Karlsruher and is an excellent piece of business on a free transfer. He’ll be tasked with replacing the goals of Polter, acting as the focal point and helping Bochum remain in the division.

Whilst Hofmann will be key, Manuel Riemann in goal is just as important. He made 110 saves in the Bundesliga, fourth highest, and recorded a save percentage of 71.8, according to FBRef. He had a strong defence in front of him last season but his exploits in goal will be integral to Bochum avoiding the drop and securing their status for another year.

All in all, despite their relatively small budget, Bochum have recruited well but the main worry for them will be the departures of Bella-Kotchap and Leitsch. Ukraine international Ivan Ordets arrived on loan from Dynamo Moscow but the task of Bochum’s defence is evidently much larger than it was last year when there was little expectation.

Verdict

Thomas Reis is no doubt one of the Bundesliga’s tactically astute coaches but even he faces a big task ahead of him. Four key players down and little funds to bring in significant deals, Bochum have worked the transfer market well with free signings and experienced players such as Forster. Bochum conceded just 52 goals in 34 games last season, an excellent return for a club playing Bundesliga football for the first time since 2010 but now there’s a bit of expectation on Reis and Bochum.

Bochum couldn’t have asked for a better start than a home game against Mainz. They should be OK in an attacking sense with Hofmann, Gerrit Holtmann and Simon Zoller, but they’ll be a lot of worry about the defence and the loss of Bella-Kotchap in particular. Reis certainly has the expertise to secure another season in the Bundesliga and because they exceeded expectations last season, I don’t think they’ll improve on 13th and will instead finish 15th, above the relegation playoff.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

After relegation in 2021, Schalke spent the 2021/22 season in the 2. Bundesliga. With one of the strongest squads in the league, they returned to the Bundesliga as second division champions. A club of Schalke’s stature certainly shouldn’t be playing their football in the 2. Bundesliga but their one season out of the top flight could be just what they needed. Heading into the 2022/23 Bundesliga season, Frank Kramer has been appointed as head coach and despite financial constraints, they’ve done some decent business in the transfer market.

Although they were unable to sign Manchester City’s Ko Itakura on a permanent deal after impressing on loan, Schalke managed to sell Ozan Kabak and Rabbi Matondo for a combined €10m. Further departures are planned with Amine Harit expected to leave the club before the transfer window closes – the Moroccan is one of S04’s highest earners and off the wage bill, the Royal Blues would be able to strengthen other areas. Hamza Mendyl, Marc Rzatkowski and Salif Sane have all left the club on free transfers.

What’s more impressive is that Schalke have signed no less than 14 players so far. Thomas Ouwejan and Rodrigo Zalazar joined on permanent deals for a combined €3.5m after impressive loan spells. They’re joined by Sebastian Polter, Tobias Mohr and Florent Mollet who were signed for a combined €3m – the trio adding valuable experience to a revamped Schalke squad that have barely tasted Bundesliga football. Alexander Schwolow also arrived on loan from Hertha Berlin and will be their No. 1 goalkeeper whilst Cedric Brunner and Maya Yoshida add experience in defence – both arrive on a free transfer. They’ve also signed Czech Republic international Alex Kral on loan from Spartak Moscow alongside Tom Krauß, Marvin Pieringer, Justin Heekeren, Leo Greiml and Ibrahima Cissé, who will provide depth.

Sebastian Polter (31) and Simon Terodde (34) are both proven goal scorers and their experience in attack will be invaluable. Terodde scored 30 in 30 2. Bundesliga games last season whilst Polter scored 10 Bundesliga goals – the duo are both powerhouses in attack and will cause Bundesliga defences problems with their physicality and aerial prowess.

Although on a limited budget, Schalke have recruited well and added experience to their squad which should see them avoid automatic relegation.

Verdict

Frank Kramer was unable to avoid the drop with Arminia Bielefeld last season, but sporting director Rouven Schroder obviously saw enough to bring the former Germany youth coach in. His experience will be vital in Schalke avoiding the drop and with Cologne, Union Berlin, Stuttgart and Bochum in their opening six games, Kramer and Schalke will be eager to showcase what they can do.

Experience combined with younger players tends to work well and that’s why I’ve tipped Schalke to avoid automatic relegation. Although they’ve made some smart moves in the transfer market, they’ve had a high turnover of players which could work against them. They shouldn’t have a problem scoring goals and that’s why I’ve predicted Schalke to finish the 2022/23 Bundesliga season in the relegation playoff.


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Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

As a capital club, Hertha Berlin ought to be doing much better. Defeat against Borussia Dortmund on the final day of last season combined with Stuttgart’s last-minute winner against Cologne resulted in The Old Lady finishing in the relegation playoff. They overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat 2. Bundesliga side Hamburg 2-1 over two legs to secure their Bundesliga status for another season. Felix Magath arrived at the club with what he set out to do after being appointed in March. He kept Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga, an achievement that at one point, looked unachievable.

Appointing Sandro Schwarz as a successor to Magath, the former Mainz and Dynamo Moscow head coach has already begun his work on the transfer market. A departure that could surprisingly hurt Hertha is the departure of Marcel Lotka (21) to Borussia Dortmund. The Polish youth international goalkeeper was Hertha’s fifth choice but because of injuries, played 10 Bundesliga games last season and kept two clean sheets. Regulars last season, Santiago Ascacibar and Alexander Schwolow both left on loan and Niklas Stark on a free transfer. They’ve also earnt just shy of €16.5m through the sales of Arne Maier, Javairo Dilrosun, Jordan Torunarigha and a couple of fringe players whilst another six players could leave before the transfer deadline, including Krzysztof Piatek.

Whilst they’ve brought in a good amount of money to rebuild, Hertha’s summer arrivals have been so far, somewhat disappointing. Jonjoe Kenny and Filip Uremovic both arrive on free transfers, both Chidera Ejuke and Ivan Sunjic on loans whilst re-signing Jessic Ngankam for €2m. They have, though, added Wilfried Kanga from Young Boys to their attack for less than €5m. Rather underwhelming, there’s still a lot of work for Schwarz and sporting director Fredi Bobic to complete if they are to avoid a repeat of last season. Jean-Paul Boëtius is expected to join the club but it’s in midfield where they appear a little lightweight.

Suat Serdar joined Hertha Berlin last summer following Schalke’s relegation. The 25-year-old disappointed but played 57 times under Sandro Schwarz during their time together at Mainz. Schwarz’ appointment could be crucial in the German midfielder re-finding his form that saw Hertha spend €8m on bringing Serdar to the club.

Money is obviously tight at Hertha Berlin and we’re still expecting to see several players leave the capital club this summer. Ejuke promises to be a good signing but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Verdict

Hertha Berlin finished 16th last season and it’s difficult to see them improve on that. More so, newly-promoted Schalke and Werder Bremen have returned to the Bundesliga and offer more stability than Hertha. Whilst the appointment of Schwarz looks good on paper, it’s difficult to see The Old Lady improving on last season’s result, but instead falling back into the automatic relegation places with teams around them making better acquisitions in the transfer market.

With an opening game against city rivals Union Berlin preceding a game against Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt, we could well see Hertha Berlin with zero points from their opening two games. Schwarz did a relatively good job in the Bundesliga during his spell at Mainz head coach, but this Hertha squad is extremely disjoined and that’s why I’ve predicted them to finish 17th and in an automatic relegation spot.


Squad Assessment & Transfer Business So Far

Augsburg narrowly avoided the relegation playoff by five points last season after picking up four wins from their final eight games. But despite securing their Bundesliga status for another season, Markus Weinzierl and the club decided to mutually part ways. Niklas Dorsch proved to be a hit last season for €7m, the former German youth international captain was arguably Augsburg’s best player, but it’s fair to say they overpaid on American teenager Ricardo Pepi (18), who is yet to score a goal in 475 minutes since his €16m transfer.

After the departure of Weinzierl, Augsburg appointed Borussia Dortmund II’s Enrico Maaßen as head coach. The 38-year-old has a tough task ahead of him in what’s his first job in the Bundesliga. Alfred Finnbogason and Michael Gregoritsch scored 70 goals between them during their time in Bavaria and have both departed the club. One of Maaßen’s first tasks is replacing their goal output.

They’ve done so with the signing of 24-year-old Bosnian international Ermedin Demirovic from Freiburg. However, he’s not proved much of a goalscorer during his two years in the Bundesliga. Demirovic played 61 league games for Freiburg, scoring seven and creating 13. They did sign Arne Maier for €5m from Hertha Berlin on a permanent basis. Central-midfielder Elvis Rexhbecaj comes from Bochum and central-defender Maximilian Bauer has joined on a free transfer, but Maaßen and sporting director Stefan Reuter are left with plenty of work to do before the transfer window closes.

Although injured for the opening games of the season, Dorsch will again be a key player for Augsburg this season. The former Bayern Munich and KAA Gent midfielder was in the 91st percentile for tackles (3.29 per 90) for Augsburg last season. Even at 24, Dorsch is incredibly experienced for his age and the German’s leadership skills will be vital.

Verdict

Augsburg picked up just one win from their opening nine games last season and Maaßen faces a huge task this season. The signing of Pepi was certainly an oversight on their part, especially when the money could have been spent elsewhere. It’s important that the American finds his scoring boots soon otherwise Augsburg could be in trouble come May 2023. They showed glimpses of excellence and potential last season, with a 2-1 win against Bayern Munich in November but an inability to beat teams around them could prove costly.

Maaßen will most likely feel the pressure from the off. It’s important that they remain strong and home, but they start their campaign with a game against Freiburg. The difference in quality from the 3. Liga with Borussia Dortmund II to the Bundesliga with Augsburg will certainly be noticeable for Maaßen, it’s important that he hits the ground running, failure to do so and he could be one of the first coaches to face the sack. Augsburg finished 14th last season but with an inexperienced coach at the highest level, failure to improve the defence and losing two important goal scorers, I’ve tipped Augsburg to finish bottom in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.


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