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FTW Season Predictions: The Bundesliga Edition

The 60th Bundesliga season is underway, and Fear the Wall’s writers have shared their predictions for what this season will bring.

Photo by Andreas Gora/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Bundesliga season kicked off over the weekend, and with nothing more than 90 minutes to go off, there is no better time than the present to make some outlandish predictions! Sure, the very summit of the Bundesliga table has become depressingly easy to predict, but the rest of the league embraces chaos with its whole heart, so what could possibly go wrong with these predictions?

We will kick things off with a look at what the Fear the Wall staff think is going to happen across the Bundesliga this season, before predicting how BVB will get on later in the week. It is time for a stare into the old crystal ball. Who will be holding the Meisterschale aloft come next May? Who won’t survive to see the 61st edition of the Bundesliga? Who will be our best signing? Lets find out!

League Champions

Yash: Bayern Munich

Is this a boring prediction? Yes. Is it realistic? Unfortunately, also yes. Bayern look like a pretty good bet to maintain their stranglehold on the Meisterschale, with some quality signings in Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig - Free), Min-Jae Kim (Napoli - €50m) and Harry Kane (Tottenham - €100m), while Dortmund have perhaps taken a half-step backwards in terms of overall squad quality. Bayern have one of the best teams in world football and dislodging them at the top is a tall ask for any team that lacks comparable resources.

However, I’m tempted to play devil’s advocate here, and point out that Bayern don’t currently have an elite ‘keeper, look set to lose one of their starting defenders in Benjamin Pavard, and their nine-figure striker currently lacks quality backup and has ankles with the approximate structural integrity of overcooked spaghetti. Much like Nagelsmann, Tuchel is a manager who always seems a couple of poor results away from a meltdown, and a falling-out with the board doesn’t seem an impossibility. This is all theoretical, though, and I think I’m still going to have to begrudgingly back Bayern for the title this season.

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Paul: Bayern Munich

At the very least, Bayern having two big holes in two very important positions will keep things interesting, but buying Harry Kane sure seems like a pretty good way of covering any deficiencies. If Bayern go and get a better goalkeeper and a decent holding midfielder, I’ll change my position to “everyone is doomed”, but for now I think Bayern are just heavy favorites. There is a small slither of hope that someone can topple them.

Sean: Bayern Munich

Between May and August, when Bayern and Dortmund were arguably on par with each other, Bayern added the best center back in Serie A and the second best striker in the world. Pound-for-pound their squad is much better and much deeper than Dortmund’s.

Joey: Bayern Munich

Champions League Qualification

Yash: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Union Berlin

The first three are almost no-brainers, but the fourth spot is more debatable. Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen have both had quality transfer windows, while Freiburg have decided not to tamper significantly with last season’s winning formula. However, my pick is FTW’s unofficial second team, the plucky underdogs from Köpenick, Union Berlin.

Union Berlin’s run to a Champions League place may have been a bit of a shock last season, but they have yet to lose any key squad members. They’ve strengthened their ranks as well, bringing in German internationals Robin Gosens (Inter - €13m) and Kevin Volland (Monaco - €4m), plus some depth all over the pitch. Making Diogo Leite’s (FC Porto) loan move permanent for a bargain €7.5m will prove a shrewd move as well.

Paul: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen

While Union Berlin and Freiburg crashed the party for much of last season, I think we will see a return to normality this season, with the big three plus Leverkusen taking up the top four spots.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga Photo by Stefan Brauer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Sean: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen

Joey: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, SC Freiburg

I wanted to pick Leverkusen as my fourth UCL pick, but since it’s been revealed that Xabi Alonso has a contract clause allowing him to leave should he receive a lucrative offer, I can't help but think he may receive just that.

Meanwhile, Christian Streich is a manager whom I admire a lot. For several seasons now, Freiburg has been punching above their weight, and I think the team is hungry for continued European competition. I think Freiburg will surprise fans this season and edge out the competition for fourth place, all while having never paid more than €10m for a player.

Relegation & Relegation Playoff

Yash: Bochum, Stuttgart, Heidenheim (Playoffs)

After Stuttgart lost their talismanic captain, Japan international Wataru Endo (Liverpool - €20m), I think they look like one of the stronger candidates for relegation. Bochum were abject last season, and perhaps a little fortuitous not to have been in the relegation battle till the very end, and I don’t think they’ve strengthened enough this summer to keep away from the drop, so I think they will also go down.

Heidenheim were exemplary in the 2. Bundesliga last season under Frank Schmidt, but very few of their players could be thought of as possessing the quality to make the step up to the Bundesliga. My major concern is that their more intense pressing and reliance on their ability to win the ball high up the pitch may not be sustainable against Bundesliga-level opposition. Their recruitment this summer hasn’t been particularly convincing, either. Darmstadt’s rather more pragmatic approach to football and recruitment might be the difference between them and their fellow promotees at the end of the season.

Paul: Augsburg, Darmstadt, Heidenheim

It’s generally a pretty safe bet to back the teams that came up to go straight back down, but as you can see I am a real risk taker, and I’m backing Heidenheim to avoid automatic relegation, at least. As to the two that I think will be automatically relegated, I’ve gone for Augsburg and Darmstadt. Augsburg were really bad last season, and I don’t think they’ve done enough in the summer to suggest they will be any better this season, while Darmstadt just look very thin on the ground in terms of top flight quality.

That said, I think there’s more uncertainty about the bottom half of the Bundesliga table than the top half, so I wouldn’t be shocked if things look very different in the relegation zone come the end of the season. I think Stuttgart have made some pretty shrewd moves this summer, particularly bringing in Serhou Guirassy (Rennes - €9m) and Alexander Nübel (Bayern Munich - Loan), but if things don’t click early they could find themselves in trouble again, and Werder Bremen were atrocious in the second half of last season, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see them struggling again.

Sean: Bochum, Darmstadt, Heidenheim

I agree with Paul about Darmstadt and Heidenheim, but I’d pick Bochum to go down instead of Augsburg. Bochum had the worst defense last season and the worst xG differential, and generally looked like crap whenever I watched them play. In fact, if Bochum hadn’t been gifted a ridiculous point by a blatant missed call in their match against Dortmund, they would have finished level with Augsburg on points.

Joey: Heidenheim, Darmstadt, Werder Bremen

Darmstadt and Heidenheim seem to be the easy picks here. I think both of these newly promoted clubs will struggle to find their feet in the Bundesliga this season. I think Darmstadt will perform at a higher level than Heidenheim, but both will find difficulty in lifting themselves out of the relegation battle.

Werder Bremen have had a good couple of years, but I question how far they’ve come since their recent relegation and promotion. Niklas Fülkrug had his best season so far last season, even finding his way in to Germany’s World Cup squad, but I don’t think he has the consistency to keep Bremen afloat.

VfL Wolfsburg v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Bundesliga Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

The Surprise Package

Yash: Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg’s problem last season was scoring goals and, as a result, it seems they’ve gone for the “throw the kitchen sink at it” approach, bringing in two goalscoring forwards, two attacking wing-backs and a very creative new central midfielder. Despite the loss of two key players I think their squad looks stronger overall, and an assault on the top four might be on the cards.

Paul: RB Leipzig

My pick for the surprise package in the Bundesliga this season was between Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig, and I’ve gone for the latter in part because Anders has already warned us that Leverkusen are going to be dangerous this season, but also because I think Leipzig are probably being undervalued right now by the majority of Bundesliga fans.

Having lost Christopher Nkunku (Chelsea - €60m), Josko Gvardiol (Man City - €90m), Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool - €70m), and Konrad Laimer (Bayern Munich - Free), fans would be forgiven for expecting Leipzig to struggle this season, however, they’ve made some great signings this summer to make up for the loss of all their best players. They’ve signed some of Ligue 1’s most promising talent in Loïs Openda (Lens - €38.5m), Castello Lukeba (Lyon - €30m), El Chadaille Bitshiabu (PSG - €15m), and Xavi Simons (PSG - Loan), and done their usual totally normal and not at all problematic summer business of signing RB Salzburg’s best players, Benjamin Sesko (€24m) and Nicolas Seiwald (€20m), as well as adding Hoffenheim’s Christoph Baumgartner (€24m) and Liverpool’s Fábio Carvalho (Loan).

FC Bayern München v RB Leipzig - DFL Supercup 2023 Photo by Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

While it may take a moment for this new look squad to gel, they got off to a great start to their season by smashing Bayern 3-0 in the Supercup, and despite being gutted this summer, I think there’s a real possibility that they have an excellent season.

Sean: Wolfsburg

Niko Kovac’s squad had a pretty disastrous end to last season, but they were legitimately in the race for the top four for a long stretch, after a mid-season 10 game unbeaten run. While losing Micky van de Ven (Tottenham - €40m) and Felix Nmecha (Borussia Dortmund - €30m) will sting, Wolfsburg did replace both with Lovro Majer (Rennes - €25m), Moritz Jenz (Lorient - €8m), and a handful of other depth signings. The key question, as always, will be where the goals come from.

Joey: Eintracht Frankfurt

This prediction is contingent on Frankfurt retaining the services of Randal Kolo Muani who has become their breakout star. They’ve been able to retain key players such as goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, and attackers Mario Götze and Jesper Lindstrom, as well as securing the signing of defenders Robin Koch (Leeds - Loan) and Willian Pacho (Antwerp - €9m). I think Frankfurt will fly under the radar for much of the season but manage a strong finish in contention for European qualification.

Your Thoughts?

Let us know your predictions for the Bundesliga champions, top four, relegation, and the surprise package.

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