Bundesliga Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 4

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Criticised for being a one team league, the Bundesliga may well be that but there’s no denying it’s one of the most exciting in Europe. With 34 goals across nine league games, round three had it all.

Looking ahead, here’s three important games to keep an eye on this weekend. Continue reading

Jadon Sancho must start for Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund and England youth international Jadon Sancho once again propelled himself into the headlines with a sublime performance against Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday night.

Introduced on the hour mark, it took Sancho just 12 minutes to assist Marius Wolf to put Dortmund back in the lead. The 18-year-old played a key role in the goal with just three touches. Marco Reus dropped deep, bringing the defender with him which allowed Sancho space in behind. One first touch, a Ronaldo chop and a cross within seconds, Sancho found Wolf at the far post to fire past Eintracht’s Kevin Trapp. Continue reading

Paco Alcacer set for Borussia Dortmund debut

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Summer arrival Paco Alcacer is set to make his Borussia Dortmund debut on Friday night following his one-year loan signing from La Liga’s Barcelona. The Spaniard will add much needed fire power to BVB’s frontline following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal in January while they were unable to sign Michy Batshuayi on a permanent deal. Continue reading

Ranked: How Bundesliga’s top teams fared in the transfer market

Now that the transfer window is shut, clubs can focus on football on the pitch rather than recruitment off it. There’s been a total of 208 departures (£452m) and 247 arrivals (£441) which makes the Bundesliga one of the most profitable, and most entertaining, leagues when it comes to transfers.

With the Bundesliga season now in full swing, let’s rank the transfers from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern Munich

Perhaps what is surprising from the Bundesliga champions is their failure to sign a winger despite cries from fans of the club to splash the cash even with the recent contract renewals of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. The experienced duo are not getting any younger and with the departure of Douglas Costa to Juventus on a permanent deal and the recent injury to Kinglsey Coman, Bayern find themselves short in wide areas.

Alphonso Davies will arrive from Vancouver Whitecaps in January and although this is an exciting signing, it’s not someone who’s expected to contribute to straight away. And considering Bayern Munich were linked with the likes of Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey, it’s perhaps a tad disappointing from the reigning champions.

That said, Bayern’s hierarchy did a remarkable job in convincing Leon Goretzka to join the club with Liverpool and Manchester United showing an interest in the Germany international, who joined Bayern Munich from Schalke after an impressive campaign. C.

Borussia Dortmund

Like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund have a new head coach at the helm. Lucien Favre swapped sunny Nice for Dortmund which sees him return to Germany after a two year absence. With the appointment of the Swiss tactician, a revamp of the squad followed.

Andre Schurrle, Sokratis, Gonzalo Castro and Nuri Sahin were all high-profile departures but there’s no doubting that Dortmund have made some brilliant acquisitions. Thomas Delaney arrived from Werder Bremen, adding much needed stamina in midfield while Belgium international Axel Witsel followed. These summer arrivals make BVB midfield one of the most impressive in the Bundesliga with either Mahmoud Dahoud or Mario Gotze complementing the duo.

Abdou Diallo also arrived from Mainz as Sokratis’ replacement. The 22-year-old Frenchman had an outstanding season with Mainz last campaign and early signs suggest he’s worth the €22 million spent on Diallo. And just 48 hours before Friday’s deadline, Borussia Dortmund got the striker they desperately needed in Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club were calling out for a No. 9 which will allow both Marco Reus and Max Philipp to play in their preferred positions.

A remarkable summer window from Borussia Dortmund. A.

Schalke 04

It is always going to be hard to replace players such as Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka but it’s fair to say that Schalke have done so rather well. Suat Serdar, Omar Mascarell both arrived to shore up the midfield before Bayern Munich’s Sebastian Rudy’s arrival later in the window.

Domenico Tedesco and sporting director Christian Heidel also did well to convince central defender Salif Sane, who was statistically in the top five defenders last season, to join the Royal Blues. 20-year-old Hamza Mendyl also adds further youth to Schalke’s defence while the left-back can also add quality going forward.

Finally, Schalke announced the signing of Mark Uth on a free transfer before the transfer window had even opened. The former Hoffenheim striker finished the Bundesliga last season as the highest scoring German in 2017/18 while the 26-year-old will certainly provide a different threat to Guido Burgstaller and Breel Embolo. B.

Bayer Leverkusen

Unhappy with playing time, Bayer Leverkusen said goodbye to highly-talented Benjamin Henrichs who joined AS Monaco for €20m. The Bundesliga club have adequate cover with the arrival of Hertha BSC right-back Mitchell Weiser who is much better defensively. Like Uth, it was also announced before transfer window opened that Vasco da Gama forward Paulinho would join the club for €18m. At just 18, the Brazilian adds pace to Leverkusen’s frontline while early signs show that Paulinho is yet another impressive South American import for the Bundesliga side.

One of the Bundesliga’s best goalkeepers last season, Lukas Hradecky, joined the club from Eintracht Frankfurt on a free transfer following the departure of Bernd Leno to Arsenal, while the loan signing of Isaac Kiese Thelin adds depth up top following the resignation of Stefan Kiessling.

Despite lack of arrivals, it has been a good summer for Leverkusen who have also renewed the contracts of Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey. B.

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Who represents the Bundesliga in the Champions League?

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. Continue reading

Borussia Dortmund: The Lucien Favre effect

Borussia Dortmund couldn’t have got off to a worse start under Lucien Favre in the Bundesliga. It took RB Leipzig just 31 seconds on Sunday evening to take the lead at the Westfalenstadion as fans in attendance were in shock. Life under the Swiss tactician wasn’t supposed to start like this but to be fair, Dortmund-Leipzig was always going to be the game people had their eyes on in the opening round of fixtures as it was always going to involve goals.

Credit where it’s due though. Despite RB Leipzig’s possession in the first-half, it was Borussia Dortmund who posed more of a threat going forward – something you would expect to see under Favre. Die Schwarzgelben equalised through a Mahmoud Dahoud header before Marcel Sabitzer’s own goal gave Dortmund the lead after 40 minutes. Minutes later, Axel Witsel capped off his Bundesliga debut with a goal just before the break.

But for Borussia Dortmund’s attacking threat, they must be thankful for Roman Burki. The stopper denied RB Leipzig from scoring on several occasions, mainly through defensive errors. Something that Favre will be keen to iron out.

The second-half was very similar to the first. For all the possession that RB Leipzig had, Ralf Rangnick’s side were unable to find a way back into the game even with the introduction of Timo Werner. Favre’s Dortmund once again looked a threat on the break, something we saw so often during his time at Borussia Monchengladbach and OGC Nice.

Borussia Dortmund’s win over RB Leipzig has shown that they are clinical when given the chance. Movement in the final third is clearly something Favre has been working on during these early days at Dortmund and if they’re able to maintain it for the season as well as shoring up their defence, they could well be up there with Bayern Munich.

There were plenty of positives to note in an attacking sense, it’s still evident that CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc must work in these coming days to secure a striker before Friday’s deadline. The Bundesliga club appear to have struck a €2 million loan deal with Barcelona for Paco Alcacer, which includes a €25m purchase option.

The 24-year-old Spaniard will add depth to Borussia Dortmund’s attack and will also add something different to what both Max Philipp and Marco Reus can offer, with Sweden international Alexander Isak the only other viable option and so with Champions League football and DFB Pokal to contend with, it’s vital that Dortmund can get this deal done.

Should Alcacer arrive, then it’s fair to argue that Borussia Dortmund have had one of the most impressive summer transfer windows from a Bundesliga club. Abdou Diallo arrived from Mainz as one of the Bundesliga’s best central defenders last season as although their defence against RB Leipzig looked nervous, more minutes with Favre’s back-four will hopefully eliminate these early shaky moments.

The arrival of Thomas Delaney from Werder Bremen wasn’t held in high regard by Dortmund fans, but the signing of Belgium international Axel Witsel to play alongside the Dane improves Dortmund’s midfield immensely. Together, the duo adds much needed energy to Dortmund’s side while it will allow freedom to either Mahmoud Dahoud or Mario Gotze, dependent on who plays.

It’s also easy to forget Borussia Dortmund have Julian Weigl at their disposal. The 22-year-old German midfielder was expected to depart the club for either Paris Saint-Germain or a move to the Premier League but for BVB bosses to convince Weigl to remain at the club shows the power the Bundesliga club holds having once being criticised for being a selling club.

So all in all, Borussia Dortmund have opened up their 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign rather convincingly. Conceding a 31 second goal against RB Leipzig on the opening day, arguably against your league rivals given they’ll both be challenging this season, was always going to be a test of character. Borussia Dortmund overcame that test and the side Favre has inherited will certainly grow from this performance.

MD1 Bundesliga Results

Bayern Munich 3-1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-2 FC Augsburg

Hertha Berlin 1-0 Nurnberg

Freiburg 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Wolfsburg 2-1 Schalke 04

Werder Bremen 1-1 Hannover 96

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Mainz 1-0 Stuttgart

Borussia Dortmund 4-1 RB Leipzig

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Season Preview: Borussia Dortmund

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Borussia Dortmund are looking to dethrone Bayern Munich of their crown this season and they’re arguable the best equipped team to challenge Niko Kovac’s side. A poor campaign in 2017/18, Hans-Joachim Watzke and Michael Zorc will be looking to rectify countless problems endured last season with the appointment of Lucien Favre lifting spirits in Dortmund.  Continue reading

Axel Witsel can be a star for Borussia Dortmund

As Borussia Dortmund prepare for the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign, it’s been known for some time that the 2012 champions have been short of experience in midfield for some time. With Nuri Şahin looking set to leave the Westfalenstadion outfit and Gonzalo Castro already gone, it will be up to summer arrival Axel Witsel to fill the void.

The Belgium international has a unique skillset that he’s yet to showcase in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Ten years of his professional career has been spent at Standard Liège, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg and following a move to Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian, it’s time for Witsel to showcase his ability’s in the Bundesliga after just one year in China.

At 29, Witsel arrives at Borussia Dortmund for €20 million, a relatively small fee for someone of his calibre in today’s market. With almost a century of caps for Belgium and a third-placed finish at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the central midfielder adds a wealth of experience to Borussia Dortmund’s midfield. Whether Witsel will start alongside fellow summer arrival Thomas Delaney remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a midfield double-pivot that could prove key for die Schwarzgelben this campaign, with potentially Mario Götze just head.

Borussia Dortmund’s signing of Witsel is fruitful and a genius move by sporting director Michael Zorc and it’s one that could potentially see BVB challenge Bayern Munich for the league title this campaign. The Bundesliga club also did well to sign the 29-year-old ahead of some of Europe’s biggest clubs after it became apparent that his advisor, Paul Stefani, advised against a move to Manchester United, where he’d be just another player, with Serie A club Napoli also interested.

“I did not have to think twice, because for me Borussia Dortmund is one of the best clubs on the continent. Honestly, I can not wait to run aground in front of 81,000 people. I talked with Michy Batshuayi about Borussia Dortmund. He told me: If I have a choice, I should go to Dortmund and don’t hesitate long,” said Witsel.

A move to Bundesliga football suits Witsel’s style of play and it’s a move that will no doubt benefit Borussia Dortmund. Whether Lucien Favre opts for a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-3-3, Witsel can play multiple roles in this BVB team. A structed style of football may see the Belgian sit just in front of the defence, allowing Delaney and Götze freedom ahead of him, or perhaps the former will sit as the anchor in Dortmund’s midfield which will see Witsel sit further forward, arguably his preferred role.

In Favre’s system as opposed to Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez, Witsel may have to be more disciplined but he’ll still be given the freedom to press the opposition players, which is something Favre likes his players to do in a systematic approach. During the International Champions Cup, we’ve seen Borussia Dortmund sit high up the pitch with Abdou Diallo composing attacks from the back and so we could even see Witsel further up the pitch than many would have expected.

Wherever he plays, there’s no doubting that Borussia Dortmund have got themselves a bargain at €20 million and signing a four-year deal, it appears that Witsel will be in Dortmund for the long haul. He’s already been training at their pre-season training camp in Bad Ragaz and we could well see the 29-year-old start in their opening fixture against RB Leipzig on Sunday 26, who are themselves entering the season under a new head coach, Ralf Rangnick.

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Bundesliga’s remaining transfer window story lines

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There’s no doubting that the transfer window in England has been unflattering to say the least but with clubs able to make transfers in Germany until August 31, there’s still plenty of time to manoeuvre. Let’s take a look at who has improved during the window and what deals could still happen with three weeks still remaining.

Will Ademola Lookman join RB Leipzig?

Ademola Lookman joined RB Leipzig on a six-month loan in January and it’s fair to say the Englishman impressed. With five goals and four assists in 11 games under Ralph Hasenhüttl, the 20-year-old has given a reason for the Bundesliga club to pursue the winger on a permanent basis.

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