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FTW Roundtable: The Bundesliga Begins!

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Juventus FC fans

The season is here! The FTW crew got together and discussed the upcoming season. Below are the questions we give our takes on.

1. Who will win the title?

2. Who will round out the top 4?

3.What teams will be relegated or sent to relegation playoff?

4. Who will be the surprise team of the season?

5. Who will be BVB’s best player this summer?

Nick Kapatos

1) Bayern. I’m not sure how much they’ve improved other than siphoning the best players in the league away from their respective clubs (Schalke’s Goretzka was this year’s victim). it’s possible that their heavy involvement in the Özil-national team controversy could cause an unnecessary distraction, plus having a new manager and a new system is bound to cause hiccups, but that’s fools thinking. We all know they’re going to steamroll the rest of the Bundesliga and make it to at least the final eight of the UCL. As long as it’s a close title race and we don’t get embarrassed both times against the Bavarians, I’ll be perfectly whelmed.

2) Dortmund, Leverkusen, Schalke. Anything less than a second-place finish would be a huge disappointment for Dortmund, especially given how much they’ve spent on improving this off-season. Leverkusen missed out on Champions League matches by the slimmest of margins, and you have to think they’ll be even hungrier for a guaranteed spot in the top 4. And aside from the loss of Goretzka and Thilo Kehrer, Schalke didn’t lose anyone of note in the transfer window. With Herrlich and Tedesco at the helm of their respective clubs, they’ll be right there giving everyone headaches with their tactical expertise.

3) Nurnburg, Frankfurt, Freiburg. Nurnburg will go down because they’re one of the new clubs, and that seemingly always happens to the newbies. Frankfurt because like I said in my preview article for them, I think they’ll be stretched too thin with Europa League, and Freiburg will be in the relegation playoff because they’ve been flirting with relegation for a while now and this is the time it bites them in the ass.

4) Bremen. It all depends on how they start, but I can see Bremen fighting for a spot in Europa League if they can escape any major injuries to their key players. I like the players they’ve brought in, specifically Klassen, although we poached Delaney from them and he was their best player. I don’t know, this is probably the one pick where I’ll be dead wrong, but call this pick a hunch.

5) Sancho. I had a feeling he would be a good player for Dortmund, but I thought it would take much longer for that to happen. We now have two sub-20 year-old wingers in Sancho and Pulisic. Whenever either of them touch the ball, I edge closer to my seat in excitement. I think Sancho will be better than Pulisic, simply because I think he has more success with the ball at his feet.

John Szymendera

1) Bayern Munich - They are definitely beginning to age and did not bring in significant reinforcements this summer, but Bayern still has more than enough talent to work with to bring home another title. They finished 21 points ahead of second place last season, and this number will likely shrink, but not enough to lose the title.

2) Dortmund will have a strong season in my opinion. They did not look good in their first DFB cup match, but I think they will start to put things together and finish in a comfortable second place.

Schalke did not get worse, but they did not get much better either. They managed to secure a champions league spot comfortably last season and I think they will do so again this year. I see Schalke and Dortmund in a tight race for second while they pull away from the group fighting for fourth.

Leipzig may be a stretch, and it will be a close race with Leverkusen and Hoffenheim, but I think they can pull it off. They are a young team across the board and that will either be the key to their success or the catalyst to their downfall, but I am going with the former.

3) This is basically a toss-up between a third of the league. Mainz, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, Freiberg, really everyone past the top 10 should fear being replaced next season.

4) I think Hoffenheim could be a negative surprise. It has to weigh on players knowing your coach has one foot out the door to a rival team in the standings. I don’t think they will fall far, but a distant sixth is in the cards.

5) The obvious choice would be Marco Reus, but we can be confident in his abilities whenever he is on the field. I think both Gotze and Witsel will be players that will take the team to another level and create one of the strongest midfields in the Bundesliga. I think Witsel is underrated coming in and will lock down a regular starting spot quickly, and I think Gotze will finally begin to return to form after his extended absence. Dortmund will certainly need Gotze to step up with the lack of certainty surrounding the striker position.

Gilles Hoffmann

1) As much as it pains me to say it, it will probably be Bayern München once again. I actually do think they are at their weakest since probably 2011 with a new (and somewhat inexperienced at that level) head coach and some of their star players entering the twilight of their careers like Ribéry, Robben, Boateng, etc. I was surprised that they went for Kovac who has never coached a Champions League team and it is a risky decision for the Bavarians. However the main reason I think they will repeat once again is that the Bundesliga is incredibly weak. BVB are the second best team but they also have a new coach, and questions at striker and both fullback positions. Schalke lost arguably three of their best players and will have to deal with Champions League football, the same goes for Leverkusen and their young and thin roster. Hoffenheim simply doesn’t have the quality to threaten Bayern and Leipzig also have a new coach and have lost Keita.

2) Dortmund still has some question marks and the first game against Greuther Fürth wasn’t exactly great but I do expect Dortmund to come in at second place at the end of the season. Bayer Leverkusen is my prediction for third place, I like what they have done this offseason, they have retained all of their star players and added some quality players like Weiser and Paulinho. Fourth place will be very interesting between RBL, Schalke and Hoffenheim but I do expect Nagelsmann to exceed expectations once again and help Hoffenheim get to the Champions League before he leaves next summer.

3) I just can’t see Nürnberg staying up so they are my prediction for last place. Other than that it’s tough to predict but I’m going with Eintracht Frankfurt going down and Freiburg having to play the relegation playoff but I do think they will manage to stay up.

4) There’s always two surprise teams in the Bundesliga, one good one bad. I do have Frankfurt as a relegation team so I think that kinda qualifies because they technically should have the quality to stay up. On the positive side I have Fortuna Düsseldorf, I don’t think they’ll get close to the top 6 but a solid mid-table finish would be a bit of a surprise for a team that is expected to battle relegation.

5) Manuel Akanji. I think he has shown with Switzerland during the World Cup that he can be a dominant defender. I expect the defense to be significantly improved this season and I think Akanji will be leading the backline. It’s still early but it looks like Zorc and the scouting team have found a special player once again.

Sean Keyser

1) Unfortunately, I don’t see any club, including BVB, challenging Bayern Munich for the title. Dortmund are in a rebuild, Schalke have lost one of their best players (ironically, to Bayern), Leverkusen aren’t there yet, and Leipzig have lost Keita. Bayern might be a bit weaker this season, given that it’s Kovac’s first year, but they’re still the best in the Bundesliga by a wide margin.

2) I think Borussia Dortmund will return to 2nd place. Favre is a competent manager and BVB still have the 2nd strongest squad in the league. A striker would be nice, though. I also see Schalke and Leverkusen returning to the top 4. Bayer have made a shrewd upgrade from Leno to Hradecky, and Mitch Weiser is a good signing too. Hoffenheim or Leipzig could also beat out Schalke, but of those three I’d pick Schalke to be the favorites.

3) I think Nurnberg will probably go down. Freiburg have been dangling by a thread for a couple years, so this could be they year they falter too (good riddance to be honest). Mainz are another club that I could see struggling.

4) I think that Borussia Mönchengladbach will struggle hard this year. I know I had them finishing 9th in my season preview, but I could easily see them finishing lower. They’ve got some talented players but Dieter Hecking is not a good manager, and a lot of other clubs have made improvements that they haven’t.

5) If he can stay healthy, then Reus will easily be the best player for Dortmund. He’s the most talented at the club by a wide margin, and he’s going to have to do some heavy lifting if BVB are to truly contend this year. If he’s hurt a lot, then I could also see Max Philipp having a strong year. Manuel Akanji has looked great in preseason and could become a rock if everything falls into place.

Brian Meyers

1)Hate to round out this article with us all answering the same thing but its true, barring Kovac being a disaster Bayern will walk to the title this year, They have the most experienced and expensive squad in the league and while they are getting older, they are not at the point of it causing trouble yet.

2) Dortmund will be the front runner to take the two spot, but it will be tight this year. Schalke and Leverkusen are both quality sides and will offer tough competition this year. Despite Bayern likley winning the league yet again, this year the Bundesliga can re-establish itself as worthy league. BVB, Schalke and Leverkusen will all succeed at home and in Europe this season.

3) If Nurnburg don’t get last they would be my suprise of the season. As for the other auto relegation team, I think Hannover is going down. Mainz has a decent FO that can right the ship and Freiburg plays well enough on defense that they have a better chance then Hannover. Feiburg however, will probably be the playoff team.

4) hate to jinx us right before we play them but Leipzig are going to be the surprise this for bad reasons. I think the loss of Keita is going to really negatively affect them. Also the players may not compete as hard knowing they have a new manager next season. I doubt they will be a lower table team, but they may struggle just to re-qualify for Europa league play-ins(they are struggling to qualify for Europa League this year already).

5) Providing he doesn’t spend half the season hurt, it will be Marco Reus. We all know just how good he is when he is on and healthy. If not, Witsel will be our most accomplished midfielder this year. He will show that he hasn't only succeeded because he played in weak leagues.