German Soccer Prediction: Bundesliga Preview 2004/2005
This week your humble correspondent reports from Germany, travelling
great lengths to find an edge in the upcoming Bundesliga season. I
picked up a copy of Bild Zeitung, the daily tabloid, which happens to
have the best sports section. My German is not what it used to be, but
the country is still very much obsessed with the national team. After
their Euro 2004 disaster, Bild ran a cover story calling the players 'a
bunch of sausages' -- apparently a very serious insult in Germany. The
Thuringer Bratwurst is excellent here, so it's rather difficult to
understand this insult. Former Tottenham Hotspur star Jurgen Klinsmann
has been chosen as the national team's new coach, after Rudi Voeller
stepped down. Former team Canada coach Holger Osieck, and ex-striker
Oliver Bierhoff will be Klinsmann's assistants. Since Germany is hosting
the 2006 World Cup, they have the luxury of automatically qualifying.
Some touted Otto Rehhagel for the job, having led Greece to Euro 2004
glory. Instead, King Otto opted to stay with Greece, who, after all, are
still the better team. The Bundesliga takes a break this weekend for the
first stage of the DFB Cup (Germany's equivalent of the FA Cup). To take
advantage of the bye week, let's examine this season's Bundesliga
Bayern Munich (-120): After a lacklustre 2003-2004 season, expect the
perennial champions to bounce back hard this year. The quality about
this team makes Bayern clear favourites to win the league. They made
some smart acquisitions this summer, picking up Lucio, Frings and
Gorlitz. And, accoring to Bild, Bayern's new coach Felix Magath should
be able to tame the egos of 'FC Hollywood' -- as Arsenal's Jens Lehmann
famously dubbed Bayern. But this price is simply prohibitive, and is by
no means worth taking.
Werder Bremen (+375): Writing in Bild, Germany's former star Lothar
Matthaus claims Werder will take the title again this year. That seems a
bit of a stretch. Going by stats alone, Werder look strong after
comfortably winning the league last year, and scoring the most goals.
But this team has financial problems, and as a result, dropped several
key players over the summer. The Brazilian Ailton, the Bundesliga's top
scorer last season is out, along with Mladen Krstajic. Bremen picked up
Frank Fahrenhorst and Miroslav Klose as replacements, but they will have
a much tougher time this year. And these odds nowhere near attractive.
Bayer Leverkusen (12:1): For a team that finished third last year,
Leverusen will find it harder to match that performance this season.
Some wrong-headed transfers this summer have weakened the team, and
Leverkusen lost Lucio, Oliver Neuville and Basturk. Most significant,
however, is the departure of Thomas Brdaric to Bochum. Brdaric could
easily become the league's leading scorer this season at
Wolfsburg. Leverkusen did well by signing Paul Freier as a replacement, but that
won't likely be enough for them this year.
Among the outsiders, keep an eye on Schalke (13:1), Stuttgart (15:1) and
Borussia Dortmund (19:1). Schalke have the best chance of the three,
after making some brilliant transfers, but we like Bayern Munich to get
back where they feel comfortable: at the top of the table.
For information in German: Fussballwetten auf die deutschen Ligen.