It’s been five years since Bayern Munich were involved in the Champions League final against Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. It’s a fixture that many didn’t expect to happen with the duo from Germany up against Barcelona and Real Madrid. It’s perhaps one of the greatest finals in recent Champions League history, barring Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Liverpool last season while both Bayern and Dortmund will be hoping to reach the final once again.
Joining them in the competition this year is Schalke, who return after a short spell away from the elite competition and Hoffenheim, who have reached the group stages for the first time in their history.
And so, here’s a little information on the teams involved in the 2018/19 Champions League from Germany.
Narrowly missing out on a place in the Champions League final last season due to individual errors in their semi-final against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich will be eager to make up for their poor performance in last years’ competition while the draw seems to have once again favoured the German champions.
Trips to Benfica, Ajax and AEK Athens will almost certainly see Niko Kovac’s side once again qualify for the knockout stages while their fixture against Benfica is likely to cause them the most issues. That said, it’s a fixture they should win even though they just scraped past the Portuguese side in 2016.
Leon Goretzka remains the only notable arrival at the Allianz Arena this summer and with Kingsley Coman on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, there’s questions as to whether Bayern Munich have enough depth in the wide areas. It’s going to be a struggle for Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to play consecutive fixtures, despite them still being at the top of their game while Serge Gnabry is still settling into life in Munich.
A dire season by Borussia Dortmund standards, Lucien Favre will be looking to rectify and improve the Westfalenstadion outfit after being appointed head coach in the summer. The Swiss tactician enjoyed spells at Borussia Monchengladbach and OGC Nice before getting the job at Dortmund, succeeding Peter Bosz and Peter Stoger who both suffered a disappointing tenure at BVB.
Key arrivals include Abdou Diallo, Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel and Paco Alcacer and looking closer at their 4-1 win against RB Leipzig on the opening matchday of the Bundesliga, it’s clear that Favre has been working on Dortmund’s weaknesses. They weren’t clinical enough last season while they were careless in possession; something they weren’t at the weekend.
That performance against Leipzig alone is enough to scare Atletico Madrid, AS Monaco and Club Brugge but BVB bosses will be keen for their players to remain focussed ahead of what could be an eventful season.
A three year absence from Champions League football, Schalke are back with the big boys of Europe once again. Involved in a thrilling knockout fixture against Real Madrid just a few years ago, the Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen are a welcomed addition to the Champions League this year.
Domenico Tedesco has done a remarkable job in just one season at Schalke. From a team that struggled against Bundesliga minnows and were slumped in mid-table, the Italian-German guided Schalke to a runners-up place in the Bundesliga, albeit 21 points behind Bayern Munich.
Even with the departures of Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, Schalke, Tedesco and sporting director Christian Heidel have done an outstanding job this transfer window and with Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto and Galatasaray in Group D alongside the Germans, they have the strength needed in their squad to trouble their opposition.
For the first time in their history, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have qualified for the Champions League group stages. Knocked out by Liverpool during the qualifying stages last season, Julian Nagelsmann made amends with an impressive Bundesliga campaign that saw his side finish third, ahead of Borussia Dortmund.
Even with the departures of Mark Uth and Serge Gnabry, Nagelsmann & sporting director Alexander Rosen have recruited well with limited funds, in comparison to other teams competing in the Champions League.
Drawn against Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon, Hoffenheim are up against it but there’s no doubting they will give it a good try. With the likes of Andrej Kramaric, Nadiem Amiri and a strong defence with Kevin Vogt at the heart of it, Nagelsmann’s side could sneak their way into the knockout stages.
And so, it’s quite possible that Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Hoffenheim could advance from their group. The quartet have enough talent and to trouble their opponents while their pressing game is some of the best in the Bundesliga.
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