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Bite-size Bundesliga breakdown: 2018-19

The 2018-19 Bundesliga season is fast approaching. Whether you’re looking for facts to impress your friends with or insider tips for your fantasy team, DW has the bite-size lowdown on all 18 clubs.

FC Augsburg

Perennial underdogs Augsburg got a taste of Europe in the 2015-16 campaign and, having kept the core of their side intact, are talking about a surprise run at a top six finish again this season.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Luthe — Schmid, Gouweleeuw, Hinteregger, Max — Baier, Khedira — Hahn, Gregoritsch, Richter — Ji

Transfer window:

Augsburg's squad has grown with a number of loanees returning, while Andre Hahn, who scored 12 goals and provided 13 assists in 48 games in his first stint with FCA, also makes a comeback. Not signing a replacement for number one Marwin Hitz could prove a costly decision. Grade: D+

Key player:

Don't let the meager two assists from last season fool you. Michael Gregoritsch is just as capable of creating chances for teammates as he is creating for himself. The Austrian is just better at finishing them as proven by the 13 goals he scored last season despite not playing as an out-and-out striker.

Fun fact:

Philipp Max delivered 12 assists in the 2017-18 campaign, which was a new record for a defender since the start of detailed data collection began in 2004.

FC Augsburg - VfL Wolfsburg - Philipp Max (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Puchner)

Philipp Max. Another season full of assists?

Bayer Leverkusen

Having missed out on the top four on goal difference last season, Leverkusen have their sight set on going one better. Boasting one of the most exciting frontlines in the league should help.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Özcan — Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell — L. Bender, Kohr — Brandt, Havertz, Bailey — Volland

Transfer window:

While Lukas Hradecky is a quality like-for-like replacement for Bernd Leno and Mitchell Weiser is a versatile upgrade on the right flank, Leverkusen's transfer activity hasn't been in keeping with their top-four ambitions.  Grade: C+

Key player:

Die Werkself's counterattacking style plays to the strengths of Leon Bailey. Along with Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz, the Jamaican makes up one of the most exciting young frontlines in world football.

Fun fact:

Leverkusen's youngest-ever debutant and goalscorer, Havertz became the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances last season. He's chipped in with seven goals and 15 assists in 54 games so far.

1. Bundesliga 29. Spieltag | RB Leipzig - Bayer 04 Leverkusen | TOR Leverkusen (Imago/opokupix)

Kai Havertz (left) celebrates with Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey.

Bayern Munich

The Bundesliga title will be the minimum requiry in Niko Kovac's first season in charge. Bayern are out to make it seven in a row and their Supercup win over Frankfurt should serve as fair warning.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Neuer — Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Rafinha — Martinez — Robben, Müller, Thiago, Ribery — Lewandowski

Transfer window:

Bayern were linked with big names such as Benjamin Pavard and Anthony Martial, but only made two signings this summer. Leon Goretzka's arrival opened the door for Arturo Vidal's exit, while Alphonso Davies is clearly a deal that had the long-term in mind. Grade: B-

Key player:

After reclaiming his top scorer title last season, Robert Lewandowski will again shoulder most of the goalscoring burden in Munich. After a poor World Cup campaign, he should be highly motivated.

Fun fact:

Niko Kovac is aiming to become the seventh person to win the Bundesliga as a player and a head coach after Matthias Sammer, Jupp Heynckes, Felix Magath, Thomas Schaaf, Franz Beckenbauer and Helmut Benthaus.

Fußball DFL Supercup Eintracht Frankfurt - FC Bayern (Reuters/R. Orlowski)

Robert Lewandowski. Another prolific season ahead?

Borussia Dortmund

A turbulent 2017-18 campaign saw Borussia Dortmund fail to meet expectations with a fourth place finish. Closing the gap at the top and reclaiming dominance in the Ruhr are the priorities this season.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Bürki — Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Schmelzer — Delaney — Pulisic, Witsel, Götze, Reus — Philipp

Transfer window:

Dortmund shipped dead weight, whilst adding quality to their ranks. Abdou Diallo has shone in preseason, while Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney provide sterling options in midfield, an area of weakness last season. The lack of an out-and-out striker leaves cause for concern. Grade: B

Key player:

Marco Reus scored seven goals in 11 appearances after returning from a torn cruciate ligament last season. Just imagine what Dortmund's new captain to do over the course of a whole campaign now that he's been reunited with Lucien Favre.

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund | Jubel Marco Reus (Getty Images/Bongarts/C. Koepsel)

Marco Reus. Will he carry Borussia Dortmund forward?

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Without making significant improvements, Gladbach could be destined for another mid-table finish. The club is trying to go in a new direction and have made a big-money signing to help them do so.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Sommer — Beyer, Jantschke, Ginter, Wendt — Kramer, Cuisance — Hofmann, Raffael, Hazard — Plea

Transfer window:

While Michael Lang and Andreas Poulsen provide cover at the back, all eyes are on Alassane Plea, who became Gladbach's most expensive signing on the back of a 16-goal season with Nice. The pressure is on for the Frenchman to deliver. Surely he'll fare better than Luuk de Jong? Grade: C

Key player:

He enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2017-18, having a hand in 18 goals, but Belgian international Thorgan Harzard still has room to improve, especially when it comes to his decision making.

Fun fact:

Gladbach occupy the top three spots for the highest winning margins in Bundesliga history: The Foals beat Dortmund 12-0 on 29 April 1978, while on 7 January 1967, they beat Schalke 11-0. Their 10-0 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig on 11 October 1984 is the joint-third highest winning margin.

Alassane Plea (picture-alliance/KEYSTONE/J.-C. Bott)

Alassane Plea. Gladbach's record signing

Eintracht Frankfurt

Frankfurt are still flying high after picking up their first major trophy in 30 years, but the Supercup was a stark reminder of the perils facing the club. Can Adi Hütter pick up where Niko Kovac left off?

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Rönnow — Abraham, Hasebe, Salcedo — Da Costa, de Guzman, Torro, Willems — Gacinovic, Jovic, Rebic

Transfer window:

Along with making Carlos Salcedo's move permanent, holding onto World Cup finalist Ante Rebic was the best piece of business Frankfurt did this summer. Nicolai Müller will provide competition out wide, while Lucas Torro already looks to have won his spot in the first XI. Grade: B-

Key player:

Having caught the eye at the World Cup only to reject advances from abroad, Rebic has perfectly played his way into the hearts of the Eagles' faithful. His qualities embodied everything that allowed Frankfurt to thrive under Kovac. Now he needs to prove he can do the same under Hütter.

Fun fact:

In the 2017-18 campaign, Eintracht Frankfurt topped the Bundesliga… when it came to how many foreigners they had in their squad. Dortmund and Bremen both had 20, while the Eagles had 23.

 Pokalfinale in Berlin: FCB, Bayern München gegen Eintracht Frankfurt (picture-alliance/J. Fromme)

Ante Rebic. Stayed loyal to Eintracht Frankfurt

Fortuna Düsseldorf

Fortuna Düsseldorf have ended their five-year absence from Germany's top flight after winning the Bundesliga 2 title last season. Can they maintain the trend of newly promoted side staying up?

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Wolf — Zimmer, Ayhan, Hoffmann, Gießelmann — Lukebakio, Sobottka, Stöger, Usami — Ducksch, Hennings

Transfer window:

Fortuna have made some very positive moves in the transfer window. Diego Contento, Alfredo Morales, Kenan Karaman and Takashi Usami — to name a few — all bring top-flight experience with them. Meanwhile, in Marvin Ducksch they've secured the services of the Bundesliga 2's top scorer. Grade: A

Key player:

A graduate of Schalke's famous Knappenschmiede academy, Kaan Ayhan has come on leaps and bounds at the heart of Düsseldorf's backline. This season will be a chance for him to prove how far he's come since his Schalke days.

Fun fact:

On loan at Holstein Kiel, Marvin Ducksch had a hand in more goals (18 goals and seven assists) than any other player in the Bundesliga 2 last season. Ducksch is a graduate of Dortmund's academy.

Deutschland Fortuna Düsseldorf Marvin Ducksch (imago/Horstmüller)

Marvin Duksch. Will continue scoring in the Bundesliga?

SC Freiburg

Freiburg left it late to secure their safety last season, but are hoping to put a campaign blighted by injuries, patchy form and nail-biting finishes behind them when the ball gets rolling again.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Schwolow — Stenzel, Gulde, Heintz, Günter — Frantz, Haberer, Höfler, Waldschmidt — Niederlechner — Petersen

Transfer window:

Freiburg made Philipp Lienhart's loan deal permanent, which paved the way for the departures of Marc-Oliver Kempf and Caglar Söyüncü. Furthermore, new recruits Dominique Heintz, Jerome Gondorf and Luca Waldschmidt all bring Bundesliga experience with them. Grade: C+

Key player:

After Florian Niederlechner fractured his knee cap against Stuttgart on matchday 10 last season, Freiburg became overly reliant on Nils Petersen. In 2018-19 die Breisgauer are hoping that Niederlechner can take some of the goalscoring burden off of the 29-year-old.

Fun fact:

Nils Petersen was the highest-scoring German player in the Bundesliga last season with 15 goals, which earned him a call-up to Joachim Löw's preliminary squad for the World Cup.

Fußball Bundesliga Sport-Club Freiburg v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga Tor, Torjubel Florian Niederlechner (Getty Images/Bongarts/T. Kienzle)

Florian Niederlechner. Back from injury

Hannover 96

Hannover are wary of the effects of second-season syndrome heading into 2018-19 and ‘challenging' seems to be the buzz word for Andre Breitenreiter and his troops. Are they up for it though?

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Esser — Sorg, Anton, Wimmer, Albornoz — Walace, Schwegler — Bebou, Haraguchi — Asano, Füllkrug

Transfer window:

Hannover have struggled to recover from losing the key trio of Salif Sane, Martin Harnik and Felix Klaus. The jury is still out as to whether the additions of Kevin Wimmer, Genki Haraguchi and Hamburg duo Walace and Bobby Wood will prove themselves as adequate replacements. Grade: C-

Key player:

Niclas Füllkrug scored just under a third of all of Hannover's goals last season and his goalscoring output will again play a major role in steering the Reds clear of the drop zone, especially given the losses of Sane, Harnik and Klaus, who chipped in with a combined 17 goals last season.

Fun fact:

Ihlas Bebou was the fastest player in the Bundesliga last season after he was clocked running at 35.25 kilometers per hour (21.90 miles per hour). He's the second Hannover player to earn the crown after Uffe Bech in the 2015-16 campaign.

1. Bundesliga 13. Spieltag | Hannover 96 - VfB Stuttgart (Getty Images/Bongarts/S. Franklin)

Ilhas Bebou (left). The Bundesliga's quickest player last season

Hertha Berlin

With a great focus on youth, Hertha are looking to build on last season's 10th-place finish to ensure that their next stint in Europe isn't a flash-in-the-pan experience like last year.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Jarstein — Klünter, Stark, Rekik, Plattenhardt — Lustenberger — Lazaro, Duda, Maier, Kalou — Ibisevic

Transfer window:

Hertha worked within their means and, while Mitchell Weiser was a loss, Lukas Klünter, Pascal Köpke and Valentino Lazaro – loan made permanent – could prove shrewd signings. There's also a lot of hype about Dutch teen sensation, Javairo Dilrosun, who has joined from Manchester City. Grade: C+

Key player:

Vladimir Darida is the player that makes Hertha tick, but if the capital city side are to progress this season, then Davie Selke will have to chip in more than 10 goals. Especially given that Vedad Ibisevic can't be relied on for a regular source of goals. The sooner he comes back from injury the better.

Fun fact:

Five of Marvin Plattenhardt's corners last season resulted in goals for Hertha. The German international was joint-top of the leaderboard alongside Philipp Max and Pirmin Schwegler.

Fussball Bundesliga 30.Spieltag – Hertha Berlin vs Köln 2:1 Tor (Getty Images/Bongarts/S. Franklin)

Marvin Plattenhardt (right). Hertha Berlin will need his corners

1899 Hoffenheim

In his final season in charge of Hoffenheim, Julian Nagelsmann is looking to leave on a positive note. However, competing on three fronts could prove a stiff challenge for the inexperienced side.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Baumann — Bicakcic, Vogt, Hübner — Kaderabek, Grillitsch, Zuber, Schulz — Grifo — Szalai, Kramaric

Transfer window:

Mark Uth's departure has robbed Hoffenheim of some fire power, but the hope is that new recruits Vincenzo Grifo, Leonardo Bittencourt and Ishak Belfodil can pick up the slack. They've done well to add strength and depth in key positions as they look to compete on three fronts. Grade: B+

Key player:

Robbed of Kerem Demirbay's services due to another long-term injury, Hoffenheim will be heavily reliant on Andrej Kramaric to provide up front. He netted 11 goals in the last 14 games of last season. That type of form would challenge Lewandowski.

Fun fact:

Since Nagelsmann made his debut on Matchday 21 of the 2015-16 season, only Bayern (201) and Dortmund (152) have collected more points than Hoffenheim (140).

Bundesliga TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Dortmund Nagelsmann (picture-alliance/Pressefoto Baumann)

Julian Nagelsmann. Last season at Hoffenheim

Mainz 05

Following a topsy-turvy campaign last time out, Mainz are hoping for calmer waters in the 2018-19 campaign. At the very least they'd like to determine their fate before the penultimate matchday.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Müller — Donati, Bell, Niakhate, Brosinski — Gbamin — Baku, Maxim — De Blasis, Mateta, Holtmann

Transfer window:

After letting Abdou Diallo (Dortmund) and Yoshinori Muto (Newcastle) leave, Mainz splashed the cash on young French duo Moussa Niakhate and Jean-Philippe Mateta. Given the 05ers prospects, both will need to settle quickly. Time isn't a luxury Mainz can afford. Grade: C-

Key player:

Jean-Philippe Gbamin is the unsung hero of Sandro Schwartz's side even if he does lose his cool at times. At 22 years of age, the defensive stalwart has the potential for big things and the 2018-19 promises to be an important season for his development in his role as midfield anchor.

Fun fact:

Jürgen Klopp is one of Mainz's most famous figureheads: the current Liverpool manager made 337 appearances for the 05ers, before managing them between 2001 and 2008.

FC Liverpool - Borussia Dortmund (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Thissen)

Jürgen Klopp. Remembered at Mainz

FC Nürnberg

Nürnberg are hoping to avoid becoming the first newly promoted side to drop straight back down into the second tier since Paderborn in 2015. They are facing an uphill battle though.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Bredlow — Valentini, Margreitter, Mühl, Leibold — Petrak — Zrelak, Behrens, Fuchs, Salli — Ishak

Transfer window:

Unlike Düsseldorf, Nürnberg haven't rocked the boat by making too many signings, while Kevin Möhwald was the only major departure. Christian Mathenia should assume the number one role, but Robert Bauer, Timothy Tillman and Törles Knöll aren't expected to break into the first XI yet. Grade: B-

Key player:

Club captain Hanno Behrens didn't miss a single a minute of action for Der Club last season. More impressively though, he managed to score a team-high 14 league goals last season from midfield, which was double the tally of his first two seasons with the club.

Fun fact:

Nürnberg scored 16 headed goals in the 2. Bundesliga last season as they went on to clinch promotion for a record eighth time.

Deutschland Hanno Behrens 1. FC Nürnberg (imago/Zink)

Hanno Behrens. Played every single minute for Nürnberg

RB Leipzig

Second-season syndrome cost Leipzig their spot in the Bundesliga top four last season, but the experience gathered could prove invaluable to the youngest squad in Germany's top flight.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Gulacsi — Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Saracchi — Demme, Kampl — Sabitzer, Forsberg — Werner, Augustin

Transfer window:

Naby Keita's move to Liverpool has left a gaping hole in Leipzig's midfield. They haven't replaced the Guinean, but have brought in Nordi Mukiele and Matheus Cunha to provide more depth at either end of the pitch. It's just a shame they couldn't hold onto Ademola Lookman. Grade: C

Key player:

Timo Werner finished 16 goals shy of top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski last season and needs to close the gap if he wants to be considered amongst the Bundesliga's best. He'll need better service if he's to achieve that though.

Fun fact:

Timo Werner was caught offside 38 times in the 2017-18 campaign — more than any other Bundesliga player.

Fußball Europa League Napoli - RB Leipzig (Reuters/C. de Luca)

Timo Werner. The most offsides in the Bundesliga last season

FC Schalke 04

The pressure is on Schalke and Domenico Tedesco to build on last season's exceptional 2nd place finish. The big question is how the Royal Blues will handle their return to the Champions League.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Fährmann — Sane, Naldo, Nastasic — Caligiuri, Bentaleb, Mascarell, Baba  — Harit, Burgstaller, Uth

Transfer window:

Tedesco has handpicked his signings this summer to slot into his system. Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar will fill the voids left by Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, while Salif Sane and Mark Uth are expected to slot straight into the first XI.  Grade: B+

Key player:

The lowest scoring side to finish in the Bundesliga's top six last season, summer signing Mark Uth is under pressure to become the 15+ goal a season striker Schalke have been bereft of since the days of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. If he hits his targets, the Royal Blues likely will as well.

Fun fact:

Schalke only conceded 37 times in the 2017-18 campaign. The last time they boasted such a good defensive record was in the 2009-10 season when they also finished second, letting in just 31 goals.

Bundesliga - RB Leipzig - Hoffenheim (Getty Images/AFP/R. Michael)

Mark Uth. Will he supply the goals for Schalke this season?

VfB Stuttgart

Taking Stuttgart from the brink of relegation to a seventh-place finish, was extraordinary work by Tayfun Korkut. Questions remain as to whether they can keep the ball rolling though.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Zieler — Maffeo, Pavard, Baumgartl, Insua — Ascacibar, Castro — Thommy, Didavi, Gonzalez — Gomez

Transfer window:

Stuttgart have been one of the most active teams on the transfer market. Gonzalo Castro and Daniel Didavi are fantastic signings for a club with their ambitions, while the likes of Pablo Maffeo and Nicolas Gonzalez are in keeping with the young core being brought through. Grade: B+

Key player:

Stuttgart conceded just 36 times as a newly promoted side last season, breaking a record set by Bayern Munich in the 1965-66 campaign. If they want to get close to matching that in 2018-19, World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard will have to maintain his level of performance.

Fun fact:

Only Bayern Munich (34) picked up more points in the final 14 games of last season than Stuttgart managed under Korkut (31).

Fußball Bundesliga Benjamin Pavard, VfB Stuttgart (picture-alliance/Sven Simon/O. Hayst)

Benjamin Pavard. Stuttgart's world champion

Werder Bremen

Backed by some as an early dark horse for European qualification, Werder Bremen are hoping to maintain the momentum they generated under Florian Kohfeldt when the season gets underway.

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Pavlenka — Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson — Bargfrede — Eggestein, Klaassen — Osako, Kainz — Kruse

Transfer window:

Helped by the fee Dortmund paid for Thomas Delaney, Bremen have made some smart moves in the transfer market. Martin Harnik, Yuya Osako and the returning Claudio Pizarro have bolstered a weak frontline, while Davy Klaassen will plug the gap in midfield after joining from Everton. Grade: B

Key player:

Bremen didn't break the bank to bring in Klaassen, but they did break their transfer record. It's not too great a stretch to suggest that Werder's fortunes hinge on how quickly the Dutchman can settle.

Fun fact:

Florian Kohfeldt has remained unbeaten in his 13 home games as Werder Bremen head coach. Only Otto Rehhagel has ever enjoyed a longer run at the Weserstadion (21 games).

Bundesliga | Werder Bremens Neuzugang Davy Klaassen (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Jaspersen)

Davy Klaassen. High hopes in Bremen

VfL Wolfsburg

It took a two-legged playoff for Wolfsburg to secure their safety last season, so surely the only way is up? The Wolves feel like they've suffered enough and they're hoping enough has changed…

Possible lineup for matchday 1:

Casteels — William, Brooks, Knoche, Roussillon — Guilavogui — Arnold, Gerhardt — Steffan, Brekalo — Ginczek

Transfer window:

Deals for Jerome Roussillon, Felix Klaus, Daniel Ginczek and Wout Weghorst, were facilitated by the sale of Daniel Didavi to Stuttgart. With the top scorer leaving it's difficult to see where the goals will come from. Elsewhere, Marcel Tisserand's loan deal has also been made permanent. Grade: B-

Bundesliga VfL Wolfsburg v Borussia Mönchengladbach - Bundesliga (Getty Images/Bongarts/S. Franklin)

Yunus Malli. Will he justify his price tag?

Key player:

Yunus Malli hasn't found his feet since joining Wolfsburg from Mainz. The silver lining to Didavi's departure is that it could free up the Turkish international to return to old form that saw him have a hand in 27 goals in his last 50 games for Mainz. Wolfsburg fans have their fingers crossed. 

Fun fact:

After surviving the relegation playoff against Holstein Kiel last season, Wolfsburg remain one of six sides never to be relegated from the Bundesliga along with Bayern, Hoffenheim, Leverkusen, Leipzig and Augsburg.

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