Every season a handful of rookies make the step up despite having had little or no prior Bundesliga experience. bundesliga.com hand picks a selection of the finest performers from last term's second division for whom the new campaign could hold immense possibilities.
Despite being just 18, Schalke's new arrival Leon Goretzka arrives in the Bundesliga with a blossoming reputation. A Bundesliga 2 debutant at 17, he starred in the VfL Bochum midfield in 2012/13, scoring four times in 32 games. He also won the 2012 Gold Fritz Walter Medal, given to German football’s most exciting talent and previously won by Lars Bender and Mario Götze. Goretzka can likely look forward to his fair share of first-team action in 2013/14.
Ronny begins 2013/14 after probably his best-ever season. He scored 18 goals from midfield for Hertha in 2012/13 as they won the Bundesliga 2 title, with many of his efforts explosive strikes from distance. The capital club will hope he can draw on his token top-flight experience and have as successful time of things in 2013/14 as he did last term. His goals and assists could be key to the Old Lady cementing their place in the top-flight.
After coming through the youth ranks at Borussia Dortmund, Daniel Ginczek announced his arrival in 2012/13 by also netting 18 goals for FC St. Pauli in Bundesliga 2. His main assets are strength and stamina, but he also has impressive acceleration for a man with a 6’3” frame. Eleven goals in his last ten games of last term mean he will be keen to maintain that momentum, and with Nuremberg’s top goalscorer in 2012/13 being six-goal defender Per Nilsson, there is a vacancy to be filled for a regular goalscorer.
Christoph Kramer launched himself into a mammoth 852 tackles last season, the most of any Bundesliga 2 player, winning 50 per cent of them. There is still room for improvement for the 22-year-old, but the signs are encouraging for Borussia Monchengladbach’s new recruit, who committed 73 fouls last term and saw just eight yellow cards. For a defensive midfielder, he can also attack, having scored three goals for Bochum and, as is the case with Goretzka, he has bags of potential.
Another youngster who has left Dortmund in an attempt to gain first-team football, Julian Koch's main asset is his versatility. 1. FSV Mainz 05 coach Thomas Tuchel has a player at his disposal that can play both in attacking or defensive midfield, as well in the back four. With Jan Kirchhoff having left for FC Bayern Munich, there will certainly be space in the squad to accommodate an adaptable, talented and young player like Koch.
Another possible vacancy up front is at Eintracht Braunschweig. With last season’s top scorer Domi Kumbela to miss the start of the season with injury, Jan Hochscheidt has a chance to stake his claim for the Lions. Signed from FC Erzgebirge Aue, he was the top scorer for the Saxon outfit in Bundesliga 2 last season with ten goals and will be eager to test himself at a higher level having never played in the Bundesliga before.
Felix Wiedwald, a new arrival at Eintracht Frankfurt from MSV Duisburg, has been among Bundesliga 2’s best goalkeepers for the past two seasons. In 2011/12 he kept out an astonishing 73 per cent of shots fired at him and conceded just 63 goals in his last two full campaigns. He joins the Eagles as back-up to first-choice keeper Kevin Trapp, although the net will be no less well-guarded whenever Wiedwald is called upon.
The next shot-stopper worth keeping an eye on is VfB Stuttgart’s Thorsten Kirschbaum, signed from FC Energie Cottbus. In 2012/13, he conceded an average of just one goal every 90 minutes and parried 75 per cent of shots aimed at his net. Furthermore, Kirschbaum has an impressive record when it comes to penalties, saving five of 18 spot-kicks faced. Ousting regular No1 Sven Ulreich will not be easy, but the experienced 26-year-old will no doubt be an asset to VfB’s goalkeeping department.