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Bundesliga

Bundesliga Matchday 1: It's all about change at Schalke, again

Expectations are as high as ever in Gelsenkirchen. New Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco is unproven but highly rated and will be hoping to get off to a good start against last season's runners-up, RB Leipzig.

The arrival of sporting director Christian Heidel from Mainz and coach Markus Weinzierl from Augsburg last summer was supposed to herald a new era on the blue side of the Ruhr region.

But five defeats from their opening five games set the tone for a disappointing season and, despite a promising Europa League campaign, Schalke never recovered.

Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco applauds on the sidelines in a German Cup game against BFC Dynamo in Berlin.

Domenico Tedesco is the latest to be charged with reviving Schalke's fortunes

Dominico Tedesco

Just one season into his new project, Weinzierl was sacked and has been replaced by the relatively unknown Domenico Tedesco.

The 31-year-old Italian-German took over struggling Erzgebirge Aue in March last season and led the eastern-German side to second division safety with six wins, two draws and three defeats from 11 games - for an average of 1.82 points per game.

Tedesco may only have three months of professional first team coaching experience to his name but he arrives at Schalke with an impressive reputation having graduated from Germany's famed coaching course top of his class in 2015 - ahead of Julian Nagelsmann.

Like Nagelsmann, Tedesco favors a high-pressing game and quick transitions from defense to attack, although it was hard to identify a clear philosophy as the Royal Blues labored to a 2-0 win over fourth-division Berlin side BFC Dynamo in the German Cup last weekend.

Sead Kolasinac dribbles the ball in a Europa league quarterfinal against Ajax Amsterdam

Bruiser Sead Kolasinac has gone to Arsenal for nothing

Ins and outs

There have been changes to the squad too. Left back Sead Kolasinac, one of Schalke's best performers last season, has left to join Arsenal and could yet be joined in the English Premier League by former captain Benedikt Höwedes, if media reports are to be believed.

Max Meyer's future is also in doubt. The Olympic silver medalist and under-21 European champion endured a difficult season, managing only three goals and one assist in 27 Bundesliga appearances, and sporting director Heidel has stated that Schalke will not be renewing his contract.

However, with Nabil Bentaleb making his loan move from Tottenham Hotspur permanent and Leon Goretzka continuing his development with more impressive performances for Germany at the Confederations Cup in Russia this summer, Schalke are not short of options in midfield.

Young American talent Weston Mckennie has also been promoted from Schalke's youth academy, the famed Knappenschmiede (literally "the miner's forge"), and will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Christian Pulisic on the yellow-and-black side of the divide.

Fußball FC Schalke 04 - Neftchi Baku Weston McKennie (picture-alliance/augenklick/fior Sportfoto/C. Kaspar)

As usual, the Royal Blues are bursting with young talent - like Weston McKennie

Expectations versus reality

Expectations are as huge as ever in Gelsenkirchen, where the local football team is entrenched in the identity of a working-class city which has suffered economically over the past several decades. Last season brought the 20th anniversary of the club's 1997 UEFA Cup victory while Schalke reached the Champions League semifinal as recently as 2011. But the current reality is somewhat different and it falls to Tedesco to try to replicate the success of his classmate Nagelsmann in Hoffenheim and take Schalke back to the Champions League.

Elsewhere on Matchday 1:

  • No Ousmane Dembele in Wolfsburg for Dortmund, but several new boys might make their debuts.
  • Cup failures Hamburg and Augsburg meet, both keen to dispel talk of another relegation-threatened season.
  • Gladbach and Cologne get the first installment of the Rhine derby out of the way on the opening Sunday.

Matchday 1 fixture list: 

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Friday, 20:30 CEST)

Hoffenheim vs. Werder Bremen (Saturday, 15:30 CEST)
Hertha Berlin vs. Stuttgart
Hamburg vs. Augsburg
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund
Mainz vs. Hannover 
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund

Schalke vs. RB Leipzig (Saturday, 18:30 CEST)

Freiburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday, 15:30 CEST)

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Cologne (Sunday, 18:00 CEST)

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