The new Bundesliga 2010/11 season is set to kick-off tomorrow with the opening Friday evening game between defending champions FC Bayern Munich vs VfL Wolfsburg, their predecessors, at the Allianz Arena in Munich. And the fans look forward to an interesting season ahead with heightened expectations after Germany's strong performances in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Once more Bayern Munich go into a new Bundesliga season as the big favourites. And the question is really who can stop Bayern win their 23rd German title? Can it be the surprise package of last season Schalke 04 under all powerful coach Magath, the talented Werder Bremen, will Michael Ballack's return give Bayer 04 Leverkusen their first ever title or the high spending Wolfsburg under Steve McClaren, the first ever English coach to train in the German top flight. Questions over questions, but we will only have a definite answer in May 2011.
The Bundesliga has grown as a league over the last few years and financial stability is one of the reasons why the league is attracting more and more big talent.
The first to mention is the return of Michael Ballack from FC Chelsea to Bayer 04 Leverkusen. A number of Bundesliga clubs wanted to sign the German star, but Ballack in the end decided that returning to his old club Leverkusen was the best decision for himself and his family. For the club a big investment, but maybe the push which the young team under seasoned coach Jupp Heynckes needs to finally win the league title.
The most surprise signing of the summer was that of Spanish legend Raul by FC Schalke 04. Raul left Real Madrid for the royal blues, a typical Ruhr valley working class club, so the differences couldn't be bigger. But making the switch with Raul from Real Madrid to Schalke is former German international Christoph Metzelder, who after three rather unsuccessful years in Madrid has come back to Germany to try and resurrect his international career. And that was the real reason for Raul joining Schalke as Metzelder played the connection which enabled Schalke to sign him.
Another big signing was that of young Danish defender Simon Kjaer by VfL Wolfsburg from US Palermo for 12 Million Euros. A lot of European top clubs were after Kjaer, but in the end decided to join the Wolves.
Players that have left
But some stars have also left the Bundesliga.
World Cup stars Sami Khedira (VfB Stuttgart) and Mesut Oezil (SV Werder Bremen) have both left the other way and joined Real Madrid. The clubs new coach Jose Mourinho was impressed in what he saw from the duo at the 2010 World Cup and now Khedira and Oezil will have to prove their worth for the Spanish giants.
Another German international who left the Bundesliga was defender Jerome Boateng, who left Hamburger SV for Premier League side Manchester City, but his transfer had been sealed before the World Cup.
The big inter-Bundesliga transfers were those of German internationals. Heiko Westermann left Schalke for Hamburger SV for 7,5 Million Euros and defender Arne Friedrich joined VfL Wolfsburg from relegated Hertha BSC Berlin for around 2 Million Euros.
Leaving the Bundesliga after many years is Brazilian right back Rafinha. It had been expected last year that he would leave Schalke, but he stayed on for another season only to be sold this summer for 9 Million Euros to Italian side FC Genua 93.
The Bundesliga will also from this season onwards play with a standard league ball. Adidas is the partner and the new league ball has been named "Torfabrik". Translated into English it means "Goal Factory" as one would hope many goals are scored with the ball.
The new one ball policy which earns league and clubs good money means that all clubs, whoever their kit partner, will have to play with this Adidas ball in Bundesliga matches.
Germany is the league with the highest attendances in any football league around the world. Last season the figure was over 42.000 per match on average over the whole season. And with stadiums expanding their capacity further it could be even higher this time around. Already more then 460.000 season tickets have been sold which is a new record.
The summer break has been long enough. Let the new season finally kick-off...