The new campaign kicks off on 9 August when two of the league’s most traditional sides, FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach, go head-to-head. But who will be the star of the new campaign?
It was “Thiago or no one” for Pep Guardiola and the new head coach soon got his wish, but where he chooses to deploy Thiago Alcantara is still unclear. In pre-season, Thiago was utilised both as a holding and as a central midfielder. Wherever he plays though, the newly-crowned Under-21 European champion, brought in to dictate the record titleholders' midfield for many years to come, gives his manager plenty of options in FC Bayern Munich’s already over-crowded midfield.
Dortmund boast two of pre-season’s whizz-kids: Jonas Hofmann, who is now very much part of the first-team squad, is just ahead of Marvin Ducksch in the pecking order. Boss Jürgen Klopp was quick to quash rumours of a possible transfer. “No chance! We’re not selling the boy!” After making his debut in the latter stages of last season, Hofmann has maintained his momentum, most notably providing two assists during a 13-minute cameo appearance in the DFB Cup.
Giulio Donati has big shoes to fill at Bayer Leverkusen after being brought in as the replacement for crowd favourite Daniel Carvajal. Sporting director Rudi Völler is aware that Donati, who reached the final of the Under-21 European Championships with Italy, is a “completely different type of player”. Donati isn’t as offensively-minded as Carvajal, he is more of a combative player and a defender who rarely shies away from getting stuck in to a challenge.
He was highly coveted, but in the end VfL Bochum starlet Leon Goretzka opted to join Schalke. “Leon is one of the most talented players in Germany and has enormous potential”, said general manager Horst Heldt. Goretzka, who has only recently turned 18, can play almost anywhere in midfield, but is strongest in a central role. A regular at Bochum in 2012/13, Goretzka has already opened his account with the Royal Blues after scoring off the bench in the DFB Cup.
He came, he saw and he triumphed: Hendrick Zuck was Freiburg’s trump card in the cup match against Neustrelitz, bagging a brace in extra-time to send his side through to the second round. The former Kaiserslautern star, who has used pre-season to regain full fitness following a persistent heel injury, is a strong contender to play out wide on the left for SCF. With pace to burn and an eye for space, Zuck could play a pivotal role in the Black Forest during the 2013/14 campaign.
In Jose Luis Sanmartin Mato - more commonly known as Joselu - Eintracht Frankfurt have signed an extremely combative striker. The Spaniard won 46% of his tackles last season and coach Armin Veh is well aware of his new player’s strengths: “He works very hard and does a lot for the team.” In their cup win over Illertissen, the loan signing from Hoffenheim got off the mark for his new club. scoring the opening goal and further cementing his position as first-choice striker.
Last season, Hakan Calhanoglu became the Juan Arango of the third division. The German-Turkish attacking midfielder scored an incredible seven free-kicks for Karlsruher SC last season, reminiscent of Gladbach's Venezuelan set-piece specialist. Calhanoglu played a huge part in his side’s title success and subsequent promotion, finishing the campaign as top scorer with 17 goals, whilst adding a further twelve assists to his remarkable tally.
He left Bochum as a hero: “I was at the season opener at the Castroper Straße and it is hard to describe the reception I got,” Cristoph Kramer told “WAZ”. The midfield enforcer is Borussia Mönchengladbach’s success story of pre-season and was even handed a starting place in the cup, impressing many with his tireless, no-nonsense display that he's hoping will be the first of many during his two-year stint as a Foals' player. “I haven’t come here to just sit on the bench”.
Leonardo Bittencourt, a pacey and technically gifted left-sided midfielder capable of playing across the front three of a 4-2-3-1 formation, has moved to Hannover in search of more regular first-team football. “Mirko Slomka’s way of thinking really motivates me”, explained the 19-year-old, who is ready to prove himself in Germany's top flight after enjoying just 214 minutes of competitive action with Borussia Dortmund last season. “I am hoping to make the next step at 96.”