Bundesliga – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part II

Bundesliga – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part II

In the Shadow of Giants – Why Bayern Need to Sign Goretzka
RB Leipzig vs Bayern München – Bundesliga – Preview
Dortmund vs Frankfurt – Bundesliga – Match Report

Manuel Veth –

The 2018/19 Bundesliga season kicks off in less than a week. Dominated by Bayern München for the last six years one of the major questions ahead of this season will be whether the Bavarians’ dominance over the league can be broken. We will break down every club in the three-part team by team breakdown.

Part II of our preview series will take a close look at FC Augsburg, Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart.

Bundesliga – Team by team breakdown – Part II

FC Augsburg

Last Season

It was a season without worries for FC Augsburg. Collecting 41 points die Fuggerstädter never were in any relegation trouble. Always deemed a relegation candidate the club is now going into its eighth Bundesliga season in a row with new ambitions.

Manager

The 38-year-old Manuel Baum completed his first full Bundesliga season without any problems. Brought in during the early stages of the 2016/17 season Baum is one of the up and coming young managers in German football with a clear football philosophy and a hard-working attitude.

Key Players

Keeper Marwin Hitz (Borussia Dortmund) has left the club. The goalkeeper will leave a big hole in the club’s hierarchy. His role could be filled by André Hahn, who returns to the club after playing for Gladbach and Hamburg. Meanwhile, Mario Götze’s younger brother Felix Götze will be one to watch. Captain Daniel Baier, however, is the leader on and off the pitch. A midfield general Augsburg’s success always hinges on his form. Finally, striker Alfred Finnbogason is in charge of getting the job done in front of goal.

Alfred Finnbogason of FC Augsburg gestures during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Augsburg at Olympiastadion on April 28, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Alfred Finnbogason of FC Augsburg gestures during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Augsburg at Olympiastadion on April 28, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup 

Giefer – Max, Hinteregger, Gouweleeuw, Schmid – Baier, Khedira – Caiuby, Gregoritsch, Hahn – Finnbogason

Predictions

Augsburg have the squad to once again land in the middle of the pack. At the same time die Fuggerstädter are always among the pack of teams that could either finish in the top half or are involved in the relegation dogfight and every season could be the last for Augsburg in the Bundesliga.

Werder Bremen

Last Season

Once a consistent top-four finisher in the Bundesliga Werder Bremen’s recent history has seen the club fight off relegation rather than compete for a European spot. By appointing head coach Florian Kohfeldt, last October trend seems to have come to an end, however. Werder played a solid season under Kohfeldt, who quickly showed that he is a talented head coach.

Manager

Florian Kohfeldt’s appointment was seen as critical. For the third time, Werder had promoted from within. The two previous coaches, Viktor Skripnik and Alexander Nouri, were also appointed from within but in both cases were in over their heads. Kohfeldt, however, has the squad under control and allows his players to play fantastic football.

Key Players

New signing Davy Klaassen will be the club’s key player next season. Signed from Everton Klaassen promises a return of the classical number 10 at Werder. It will be fascinating to see the Dutch playmaker play together with the likes of Max Kruse and super talent Maximilian Eggestein.

Davy Klaassen struggled for playing time in England (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Davy Klaassen struggled for playing time in England (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup 

Pavlenka – Augustinsson, Moisander, Veljković, Gebre Selassie – Klaassen, Bargfrede, M. Eggestein – Kainz, Kruse, Osako

Predictions

Werder will be among the teams fighting for a spot in the Europa League this season. Ultimately, however, the club will finish just outside the top six.

Hertha Berlin

Last Season

Hertha Berlin are often accused of being boring. But at least they used to get the job done. Last year, however, Hertha struggled with the Europa League Thursday-Sunday-Thursday rhythm. Failure to make it into the knockout stage of the Europa League and a tenth-place finish were the punishment for what has been at times uninspiring football.

Manager

Pal Dardai is a typical result first coach. Furthermore, the Hungarian has managed to get the best of a mediocre team and slowly but surely increased Berlin’s potential. But the fans will now demand the next step, which will include integrating one of the most promising youth generations in the club’s history and playing more attractive football that is more reflective of Germany’s hip capital.

Key Players

German national team player Marvin Plattenhardt decided to stay with the club despite offers from England. The left-back will play an essential role for the club this season. Furthermore, look out for young midfielder Arne Maier, who is considered one of the most promising talents in German football. Finally, Davie Selke, once recovered from his post-pneumothorax surgery, will look to make the next step in his development.

Marvin Plattenhardt chose not to leave Hertha Berlin this summer (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Marvin Plattenhardt chose not to leave Hertha Berlin this summer (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup 

Jarstein – Plattenhardt, Rekik, Stark, Klünter – Lustenberger – Kalou, Maier, Lazaro, Leckie – Ibisević

Predictions

Hertha’s lineup is certainly more impressive than last season. The problem, however, is that several other clubs have also improved and while Hertha will not have any relegation trouble a mid-table finish once again seems likely.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Last Season

Inconsistency was Gladbach’s biggest problem last season. Scoring 47 goals but conceding 52 reflects that Gladbach lacked balance. Excellent performances were often overshadowed by massive defeats.

Manager

The fans quickly identified head coach Dieter Hecking as the club’s biggest problem over the last two seasons. The 54-year-old will be without a doubt under the spotlight once again this year, but early indications highlight that he could stabilise the club. Switching Gladbach’s system from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 showed some promise in the offseason. Whether the system change worked, however, will be one of the big questions during the early parts of the upcoming season.

Key Players

The club hope that record signing Alassane Plea, signed for €23 million from Nice, will finally resolve Gladbach’s ongoing problems of finding a true number nine. Plea was excellent at times for Nice and could be a sensational player in this league if Hecking manages to put him in the spotlight tactically. Also look out for young star Florian Neuhaus. The 1860 product was on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf last season where he impressed at times.

Alassane Plea of Borussia Moenchengladbach in action during the DFB Cup first round match between BSC Hastedt and Borussia Moenchengladbach at stadium Platz 11 on August 19, 2018 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Alassane Plea of Borussia Moenchengladbach in action during the DFB Cup first round match between BSC Hastedt and Borussia Moenchengladbach at stadium Platz 11 on August 19, 2018 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup 

Sommer – Wendt, Jantschke, Ginter, Beyer – Zakaria, Kramer, Neuhaus – Johnson, Plea, Raffael

Predictions

Finally signing a true number nine will go a long way to solve some of die Fohlen’s problems. But like it is the case for Hertha many of the clubs below and above Gladbach have also used the offseason to make improvements, which means that Gladbach will be stuck in the middle of the table for now.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Last Season

Like the year before Eintracht Frankfurt failed to hold on to an international spot towards the end of the season. But unlike the previous year Frankfurt managed to win the DFB Pokal final in Berlin ending a 30-year wait for a title. It was the crowning achievement for head coach Niko Kovac, who joined Bayern München this summer.

Manager

Adi Hütter came in this summer to replace Niko Kovac. The Austrian previously won the national title and cup in both Austria (with RB Salzburg) and Switzerland (Young Boys). At Young Boys, he successfully broke through Basel’s dominance ending a 32-year wait for a national championship. At Frankfurt, Hütter, however, will have to fill the big boots left by Kovac and deal with several key players having left the club.

Key Players

Kevin-Prince Boateng (Sassuolo), Omar Mascarell (Schalke), Marius Wolf (Dortmund), Lukas Hradecky (Bayer) and Alex Meier are all gone. The many new signings still have to be integrated leaving the club with some headaches going into the new season. With this in mind, it was fantastic news that Ante Rebić signed a new contract. The Croatian World Cup star will once again play a key role for the club.

World Cup star Ante Rebić has renewed his contract in Frankfurt (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

World Cup star Ante Rebić has renewed his contract in Frankfurt (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup 

Rönnow – Salcedo, Hasebe, Abraham – Willems, de Guzman, Torro, Chandler – Rebić, Jović, Gačinović

Predictions

Frankfurt have a transitional year ahead of them, which will test whether the club is truly walked away from no longer being the Bundesliga’s biggest diva. Frankfurt could at times flirt with the relegation battle but ultimately, if the right signings are made, will finish above the red line.

VfB Stuttgart

Last Season

Back from Bundesliga 2 Stuttgart almost qualified for the Europa League. Only Frankfurt’s unexpected triumph in Berlin stopped Stuttgart. Ultimately, however, this might have been a good thing as die Schwaben do not quite have depth at the moment to compete both in Europe and domestically.

Manager

Tayfun Korkut took over from Hannes Wolf on January 29. Wolf was very popular in Stuttgart and was seen as a very talented coach. Korkut, in the meantime, was seen critical by many fans, who remembered his poor record in Hannover, Kaiserslautern and Leverkusen. Ultimately, the former Turkish national team player led Stuttgart to a seventh-place finish in the league.

Key Players

Stuttgart’s new signings Daniel Didavi (Wolfsburg), Gonzalo Castro (Dortmund), Pablo Maffeo (Manchester City), Nicolas Gonzalez (Argentinos Juniors) Marc Oliver Kempf and Borna Sosa (Dinamo Zagreb) will go a long way to increase the depth in the squad. Only Didavi and Castro, however, are expected to have an instant impact. Instead, it will be the likes of striker Mario Gomez, midfielder Santiago Ascacibar and world champion Benjamin Pavard, who will be the standout players for Stuttgart once again.

How often will Stuttgart fans press the Mario Gomez button in the upcoming Bundesliga season? (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

How often will Stuttgart fans press the Mario Gomez button in the upcoming Bundesliga season? (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Preferred Lineup  

Zieler – Insua, Badstuber, Pavard, Maffeo – Ascacibar, Castro – Thommy, Didavi, Gentner – Gomez

Predictions

Tayfun Korkut will have to prove that he can get Stuttgart to the next level. Furthermore, how will the squad handle the euphoria that has developed in the city? The team is strong enough to qualify for the Europa League but is Korkut the right coach to get them there?

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
DISQUS: 0