It’s all change for the new Bundesliga campaign – which starts on Friday – with new coaches at each of last season’s top six clubs now joining the hunt to deny Bayern Munich a tenth straight league title.
In a rare coincidence, all clubs who finished in the top six league places in 2020/21 have a new head coach.
The pressure is on incoming Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann, 34, who is tasked with landing the defending champions’ tenth straight league title in his first season.
They reportedly paid league rivals Leipzig a hefty 25 million euros ($29 million) to sign Nagelsmann, who has already been warned what to expect.
“The hunt is on,” warned Bayern’s new chief executive officer Oliver Kahn ahead of Friday’s opening game when Borussia Moenchengladbach host the Bavarians.
Kahn, a former club captain, expects the competition will “try everything” to knock Bayern off top spot.
Bayern spent 42.5 million euros on signing France centre-back Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.
However, no other new recruits are expected this summer with Bayern predicting a shortfall of 150 million euros in lost revenue due to the pandemic.
Dortmund sign Malen
Leading the charge to stop Bayern are Borussia Dortmund, whose star striker Erling Braut Haaland hit a hat-trick last weekend in the first round of the German Cup.
“We have the squad to become German champions, win the cup and progress in the Champions League,” insisted Dortmund captain Marco Reus.
“Of course, you also need luck. But we can work for that with passion and heart.”
After two years at league rivals Moenchengladbach, Marco Rose, 44, takes charge of Dortmund with last season’s caretaker coach Edin Terzic now helping with player recruitment.
Dortmund, who host Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, have plenty of fire power up front.
Haaland has now scored 60 goals in as many games since joining in January 2020.
Dutch star Donyell Malen has been signed from PSV Eindhoven, at a cost of 30 million euros, to replace Jadon Sancho.
Dortmund’s challenge to Bayern has support within the Bundesliga.
“My money is on Dortmund,” Cologne head coach Steffen Baumgart told Kicker. “It’s about time someone else won it.”
Last season’s runners-up Leipzig has American Jesse Marsch now in charge after Nagelsmann left for Munich.
Leipzig, founded in 2009 by energy drinks giants Red Bull, struggled last season to find a reliable goal-scorer after Timo Werner left for Chelsea.
As a result, Portugal striker Andre Silva has been signed after scoring 32 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt last season in Germany’s top flight.
Marsch refuses to set a target, but defender Willi Orban says Leipzig are hungry for a first Bundesliga title in the club’s fledgling history.
“We’re hungry and don’t want to hide from any big opponents,” insisted Orban.
There are also new faces in charge of the other clubs hoping to threaten Bayern.
Austrian Adi Huetter quit Eintracht Frankfurt last season to join Moenchengladbach and has a crack at Bayern first up.
Bayern lost 3-2 when the sides last met at Borussia Park in January, thanks to two stunning goals by ‘Gladbach midfielder Jonas Hofmann.
Wolfsburg, who have qualified for the Champions League after a five-year hiatus, have former Bayern midfield enforcer Mark van Bommel as their new head coach.
Van Bommel’s blunder
The 44-year-old lost five of his six pre-season friendlies and on Saturday, Wolfsburg needed extra time to beat minnows Munster in the cup.
The result could still have repercussions for Van Bommel as the German FA is investigating after he used six substitutes, when only five are allowed.
The Dutchman replaced Austrian Oliver Glasner, now in charge of Frankfurt, who were knocked out of the cup by third division Waldhof Mannheim on Sunday.
There was no such banana skin for Bayer Leverkusen, whose new head coach Gerardo Seoane led Bern to the Swiss league title for the last three seasons.
Leverkusen brushed aside fourth-tier side Lokomotive Leipzig 3-0 on Saturday in the cup with Kerem Demirbay netting twice.
However, Karim Bellarabi, who also scored, picked up an injury to rule him out of their opening league match at Union Berlin on Saturday.