Opinion

German players returning from World Cup disgrace

Despite running away with the league last season, plenty of Bayern Munich players will be needing to hit the ground running to put their World Cup disappointment firmly behind them.

While the likes of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer have been fantastic servants for the German game on a domestic and international scale, they now have to prove they still have what it takes to be considered some of the best in the world.

Consistent performances in the Bundesliga will go a long way to restoring any tarnished pride and setbacks in confidence following their insipid performances in Russia.

Such players have lost a considerable amount of their aura following the World Cup, and seeing as the four mentioned above are all around the 30-year mark, they would like to prove to the world that their best days are not behind them.

In contrast, Joshua Kimmich is a promising youngster whose first showing at a World Cup was underwhelming. After a superb title-winning season with Bayern, he will want to pick up from where he left off in the Bundesliga.

A tricky away match at Frankfurt, who finished 8th last season, will be a good indicator of how the World Cup flops will react to their humiliation.

Title race

Having appointed Lucien Favre from Nice, Dortmund have a new manager who knows the league well after previously being in charge of Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin.

Qualifying for European football with both these clubs was a job well done in Germany, and Favre has also guided Nice to a third-place finish in 2016/17. He fell just short of qualifying for Europe last season, but if he can keep hold of highly-rated youngster Christian Pulisic and get his team playing with confidence and consistency then they will feel they can give Bayern much more of a challenge this year.

Injury to to Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi was not what Favre wanted after the Belgian’s form in front of goal after arriving from London last season. However, with new captain Marco Reus and Maximilian Philipp in the squad, there are still plenty of attacking credentials.

Indeed, Philipp found the net nine times, despite missing 11 games with injury. If he was moved into a more central position, he could cause problems for opposition defences in front of goal.

Schalke will also have a big say in the battle for positions at the summit of the table following on from their second place finish last season. Under Domenico Tedesco, the Royal Blues finished eight points clear of Hoffenheim, Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.

Balancing Champions League football with consistency in the league will be demanding, but under 32-year-old Tedesco, they played superbly last season and will look to surprise people further this campaign. The loss of Leon Goretzka is huge, but they will hope new signings Omar Mascarell from Real Madrid and Suat Serdar from Mainz can help fill the void.

Bayern Munich are clearly the team to beat however after they accumulated 84 points to run away with their sixth consecutive title. It’s time this trend was broken as tough a proposition as this may sound.

New signings

A host of transfer deals have been made with some notable players arriving at a new club ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

Brazilian winger Paulinho has arrived at Bayer Leverkusen from Regatas Vasco da Gama for 18.5m euros. The 19 year-old arrives with plenty of pedigree after making his debut for Vasco only two days before his 17th birthday. Two goals on his first league appearance proved age is not an issue for him.

Alassane Pléa was signed by Monchengladbach after scoring 16 goals and assisting six for Nice in Ligue 1 last season. The 25-year-old striker has represented France at under 18, 19, 20 and 21 level, and looks a great capture for Dieter Hecking’s side. Young winger Keanan Bennetts also arrives from Tottenham.

Claudio Pizarro’s return to Werder Bremen at the grand age of 39 will be intriguing. If he can rediscover any of the form which enabled him to find the net 192 times in 446 Bundesliga appearances, then Bremen fans really will be laughing.

Goretzka to Bayern is a shrewd signing for a classy operator, while Spanish right-back Pablo Maffeo has joined Stuttgart from Manchester City with high praise from Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald will have to reprove himself at Frankfurt after a calamitous season with Leeds United.