What to watch for on matchday 1 of the Bundesliga | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 26.08.2016
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What to watch for on matchday 1 of the Bundesliga

Do Bremen have any chance against Bayern? Will Leipzig kick off their first top-flight campaign with a win? Here's what to watch for in the first matchday of the new Bundesliga season.

After three long months, the Bundesliga is back in action. The first of 34 matchdays kicks off on Friday when defending Champions Bayern Munich face Werder Bremen.

Bremen haven't faired well against Bayern in recent years. They lost both Bundesliga contests against the league champions last season by a combined score of 6-0. And two of their starting defenders last season, Jannik Vestergaard and Alejandro Galvez, went to other clubs in the summer transfer window.

New sporting director Frank Baumann has had to do a defensive rebuild this summer, acquiring Niklas Moisander, Fallou Diagne and Lamine Sane. Sane at least says he's not scared of Bayern offensive might and last year's leading goal scorer.

"I am not going to be intimidated by the presence of a Robert Lewandowski, in the end, he's also just another opponent, like any other one," Sane told German newspaper "Kreiszeitung" this week. "He only has two arms and two legs, I have those too. The differences may not be that big. I will try to keep him from scoring goals."

The first battle for a Champions League spot

Both Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach will participate in the Champions League this season, but they will face a lot of competition in the Bundesliga to keep those coveted international spots. The two teams face one another on Saturday evening, launching the race for the top four.

In their first competitive run-outs, Leverkusen and Gladbach handled their German Cup opponents with relative ease, and Gladbach dispatched Young Boys to qualify for the Champions League. So expect a heady encounter between two sides that both want to get off to a positive Bundesliga start,

Mario Götze's return with Borussia Dortmund

Prodigal son Mario Götze missed out on Dortmund's German Cup match against Eintacht Trier through injury. But coach Thomas Tuchel is likely to play the 24-year-old against Mainz on Saturday afternoon.

Götze's defection to Bayern Munich three seasons ago made him public enemy #1 at the Signal Iduna Park. So it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the fans when he takes to the pitch in yellow and black again.

RB Leipzig's first Bundesliga game

Leipzig's rise up the football ladder has been controversial - with some fans seeing the club as the artifical product of energy drink manufacturer Red Bull's big bucks. They make their first division debut on Sunday against Hoffenheim, another so-called "credit card" club.

Not many of the Leipzig players have Bundesliga experience, but they can take comfort from the fact that Hoffenheim will be missing key defenders Niklas Süle and Jeremy Toljan who have yet to return from Olympic duty.

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