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Six reasons why you should be excited about the return of the Bundesliga

Friday sees Germany's top-flight return with Hamburg hosting Bayern Munich to kickoff matchday 18. Although some say the championship is over, we have come up with six reasons that still make the Bundesliga entertaining.

Borussia Dortmund:

The Bundesliga's second-placed side is high on our list of reasons to watch Germany's top-division. Borussia Dortmund have been mightily impressive under head coach Thomas Tuchel whose return football from a sabbatical was worth the wait.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 18 in 17 league games and claiming Africa's Footballer of the Year prize, the Gabon striker will be oozing confidence. Behind him, there's the gracious Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan who continues to impress - and finally seems content with his surroundings in Germany.

Marco Reus, Shinji Kagawa, Ilkay Gundogan and Julian Weigl ended the year in fine form and the latter two will be especially determined to succeed ahead of the Euros this summer. With Europe and Cup action also to come, Dortmund might be putting together an assault on next year's title. Even if they aren't, they are still fun to watch.

The relegation battle is full of intrigue:

Unlike recent seasons where there has been an automatic candidate for the drop, this year's battle for survival is wide open. Darmstadt and Ingolstadt, the two promoted sides in the summer, are basking in the sunshine following a good start to the season.

That factor has left Hoffenheim, for example, struggling to keep their head above water with just two wins all season. Hannover are second-bottom, one point better off, but have strengthened with some clever purchases in January, which might be enough for them to survive under new coach Thomas Schaaf.

Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt haven't yet assured themselves of a Bundesliga status for next season. Fans of Bremen and Stuttgart, especially, are use to this process by now.

Pep Guardiola:

Well, it has been fun, but good things come to an end. Pep Guardiola's stint at Bayern Munich is over this summer when he is expected to opt for a move to Manchester - either for City or United.

Yet with six months left of his third season in Germany, Bayern still have a job to do. Eight points clear in the championship race, any slip-up will fire up Dortmund behind them. The German Cup and most notably the Champions League offer the prospect of silverware at the end of the season.

To many, Guardiola has to win the Champions League to be considered a successful coach at the Allianz Arena. Okay, we all expect the title to be a formality, but what happens in Europe makes for an engrossing few months.

Deutschland Thomas Schaaf PK

Thomas Schaaf is tasked with saving Hannover from relegation

Best of the underbelly:

Behind Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Germany's Bundesliga becomes slightly harder to predict. The league boasts some tradition-laden clubs, with large budgets, but who are also sensibly managed. Others, perhaps, are slightly more erratic in nature.

Take Borussia Mönchengladbach, for example. After five straight league losses, Lucien Favre resigned and the responsibility fell to little-known Andre Schubert. But Gladbach won their next 10 games and were all of a sudden back in the hunt for a top-four place. How they perform in 2016, aided by signings like Jonas Hofmann, is anyone's guess.

Schalke, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg will likely be competing for the fourth Champions League spot. All of these sides have European football to play for this term; all of them have interesting attacking options; but all of them need the revenue from Europe's biggest tournament. Something has to give.

Wunderkinds:

Germany loves a young superstar. Now that Götze, Reus and Müller have matured, the stage is set for the next generation of young talents to emerge. At Schalke, the Royal Blues are producing them by the bucketload. Leroy Sane, 19, has been subject of transfer rumors this month with Manchester City set to spend over 50 million euro on the winger. Sane is partnered by 20-year-old Max Meyer who is beginning to hold down a regular place, out of the shadows of Julian Draxler.

The league's surprise package, Hertha Berlin, now has two former Bayern youngsters in their ranks. Mitchell Weiser arrived in the summer and has been superb at right-back. If he continues this form, then he could be at a bigger club very soon. Sinan Kurt, a 19-year-old winger, signs from Bayern in January with the hope of getting rid of his 'bad-boy' reputation in the German media.

Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack were part of Dortmund's training camp in Dubai and both could be set to have a bright future in yellow-and-black. And perhaps the next hit in German football will come from left-field: Gladbach, Leverkusen and Mainz have a track record of giving a chance to their academy players.

'Chicharito' Hernandez:

The league's favorite Mexican goal-getter is firing in all cylinders this season. Since joining Leverkusen from Manchester United, Hernandez has 19 goals in 22 games. He says he's delighted with life in Germany and has put to bed a difficult period at United.

What can he achieve in 2016? If he keeps on scoring at this rate - with 10 in his last eight outings - then we might have a great battle for the top-scorer prize between him, Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski. Then there's the small matter of the Copa America to come in the United States, which is forecasted to be the biggest football tournament in the country's history, where Chicharito will lead his Mexico side out on the patch of their greatest rivals.