Frankfurt - The DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga finally revealed the news millions of fans around the globe had been waiting for on Tuesday afternoon as Chief Operating Officer Andreas Rettig announced the schedule for the 2014/15 season at a press conference in Frankfurt.
Kroos issues challenge
There was a great sense of anticipation surrounding the release and in particular the opening fixture of the 52nd Bundesliga campaign, which pits reigning titleholders FC Bayern München against the 2009 Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg on 22 August 2014.
In the build-up to the announcement, Rettig highlighted the attractiveness of Germany’s top flight, which was the highest scoring amongst Europe’s top leagues with 3.16 goals per game last season. With an average turnout of 42,609, it also remains the best attended football league in the world.
The former FC Augsburg sporting director also had words of praise for the 72 top-flight representatives currently competing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil before turning everyone’s attention back to domestic affairs. "[The opening encounter is] very appealing," said Rettig. "We want this game to inspire a sense of anticipation. Wolfsburg are ones to watch. Financial clout paired with competent leaders make them a team that others should take seriously."
Within moments of the fixtures' release, the challenge was laid down by the defending champions as Toni Kroos made a video appearance from Brazil: “What [FC Bayern] managed to achieve domestically - winning the league and cup double - is something we want to repeat.” The German international is well aware it won’t be easy, starting with their first game of the season. “Wolfsburg have a lot of quality. We saw last year that they've continued to develop as a team,” added Kroos.
Magath praises Wolves development
The man who guided Wolfsburg to an historic title in 2009 is eagerly anticipating the 2014/15 grand opening too. “This match-up will act as a sign," said Felix Magath. "The Bundesliga is back! It leaves you wanting more. Wolfsburg are an emerging side who want to keep on climbing. They will always be amongst the top few clubs in the country in the future, but we'll see in this game just how far they've come." The current Fulham FC head coach is nonetheless backing FC Bayern, with whom he won the Bundesliga title twice, to retain their crown. “It will be interesting to see how up for it Bayern and their numerous World Cup participants are at the start of the season.”
It will be the second consecutive season in which Bayern have featured in the campaign’s kick-off clash, which was first introduced by the DFL ahead of the 2002/03 season. Last season the record titleholders got their title defence off on the right foot with a 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Allianz Arena. Their overall record is just as positive, with the Münchner boasting nine wins and three draws from the twelve opening fixtures they’ve appeared in, including the 2-1 win over the Wolves at the start of the 2010/11 campaign.
Rettig looking forward to a 'hard fight'
The meeting of Bayern and Wolfsburg is far from the only highlight of Matchday 1, with last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund set to welcome fellow UEFA Champions League participants Bayer 04 Leverkusen to the Signal Iduna Park. “That will be a really hard fight. There are several internationals in both squads currently playing in the World Cup,” said Rettig, who went on to welcome Bundesliga 2 champions 1. FC Köln and top-flight newcomers SC Paderborn into the Bundesliga. “The clash of clubs with great histories like Köln and Hamburger SV on Matchday 1 will be spectacular and it was important for us to let Paderborn start with a game on home soil.”
Just like last year, the 306 matches of the 2014/15 Bundesliga season promise to be a highlight reel unto themselves with the Revierderby between local rivals Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 6 and 23 just two examples of the plethora of pulsating fixtures set to thrill fans around the world. With BVB looking to give Bayern a run for their money in the title race, their encounters on Matchday 10 and 27 are definitely ones not to be missed. The DFL will confirm the exact dates and times of the opening rounds in the coming weeks, meaning fans will soon be able to start planning their lives around their favourite clubs once again.
Tim Tonner reporting from Frankfurt