Crack out your shirts, your banners, your pyro… the Bundesliga is ready to capture the attention of the UK as it becomes the first major European football league to swing back into action this weekend.
Every team will be in action live on BT Sport across the course of the next few days, so we caught up with BT Sport pundit Raphael Honigstein, one of the most well-respected experts on German football, to bring the lowdown on teams, players and a style of football to look out for.
We’ve all seen Robert Lewandowski in action for Bayern Munich, we’re accustomed to the yellow wall of Dortmund and the bright sparks they possess, but what about the other sides in contention for the title and key players who could make all the difference in the coming weeks?
Over to Rapha to bring you up to speed with everything you need to know.
Title Race Contenders
“Under normal circumstances I’d say [Bayern Munich‘s] form has looked very ominous. They’ve been so strong under Flick, especially in 2020. You saw what they did against Chelsea in the Champions League. They really look like a team who is going to be almost unbeatable.
“But we don’t know how they’ll cope with this situation – how will they come out of the traps? Will they be at their usual level? Will they get injuries because players are not quite ready? Will the passing game be more difficult to play when you’re not at 100% against a side sitting back waiting for a mistake or two? These are all the vagaries.
“I think Dortmund have a real opportunity, though I worry slightly because they have such a physical game against Schalke that their title race could become more difficult already this weekend. They’ve struggled against Schalke at home recently with the fans, without the fans I think it’s almost anyone’s game.
Bayern are clearly still favourites. Dortmund have enough, especially going forward with the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho but whether they can have the consistency and stability Bayern have, I’m a little doubtful. I think there’s a chance we might see a more sustained challenge from RB Leipzig.”
Players To Watch
“Those who saw Leipzig get past Tottenham quite comfortably will attest to the fact they have some real quality throughout the side. I love Dayot Upamecano at the back. He is going to be an absolute superstar centre-back in world football.
“Timo Werner we know all about – he’s probably going to be at Anfield next season the way things are going – there is real quality in midfield with Konrad Laimer a young Austrian kid and his compatriot Marco Sabitzer, the two of them make a really strong combination. I like Christopher Nkunku as well.
“For Monchengladbach, Marcus Thuram, son of Lillian Thuram (World Cup winner with France in 1998) and Denis Zakaria, he’s injured at the moment but a superstar in the making at central midfield. They have a player up front Allassane Plea, they also have a really good German player that is growing, Florian Neuhaus, who has scored a lot of goals from midfield.
“And for Leverkusen, Kai Havertz is the most exciting young German player of his generation. He will dominate the German national team for the next decade in midfield, he’s an absolute beauty of a player. Elegant, effortless, always has time on the ball, things happen, scores goals, does everything. He’s going to be one of the most fun players to watch, if not the most fun player to watch.”
The Bundesliga Style
“Teams are similar in a sense that they all like to play a passing game. That is the orthodoxy of the Bundesliga.
“Most teams play a pressing game which in itself makes things exciting. If it works, it creates opportunities straight away. If it doesn’t, it leaves huge gaps. That’s why we have so many goals in the Bundesliga, well over three on average per game this season.”
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