The new fixture schedule has gone on general release and preparations for the start of the 55th Bundesliga season are concomitantly hotting up. It all kicks off on 18 August, when defending champions Bayern München do the traditional honours on home turf, against former top rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
This particular curtain-raiser is a real study in contrasts as far as the coaches go, pitting the vast international experience of Bayern's Carlo Ancelotti against Bundesliga touchline novice Heiko Herrlich, the new man in the Leverkusen hot seat. Compounding the challenge facing the former Germany striker, Bayern last failed to win their opening game back in 2008 – and they have won the last four with a combined goal difference of 16:2.
Watch: How the Bundesliga schedule is created
Runners-up RB Leipzig travel to FC Schalke 04 for the late Saturday game, with fellow Champions League group stagers Borussia Dortmund away to VfL Wolfsburg earlier in the afternoon. Rounding out the Matchday 1 programme on Sunday is the ever-feisty meeting of Rhineland rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Köln. Further down the line, the first Klassiker of the season is scheduled for Matchday 11, with Dortmund enjoying home advantage against champs Bayern – who themselves host Leipzig a week beforehand.
Due to next summer's 2018 World Cup finals in Russia the winter break is shorter than usual this year, running from 17 December to 12 January. The regular season closes out on 12 May, with 17 and 21 May penned in for the Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off.
The new television contracts coming into effect this season are set to net the league some 1.5 billion euro per season. They will entail a few changes to kick-off times as well, with the late Sunday game now getting underway at 18:00 local time. There will also be five Sunday games starting earlier, at 13:00, over the course of the season – and five on Monday evening, at 20:30.
Despite the World Cup and new broadcast rights deals adding further complications to an already tricky scheduling process, the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) planners once again got the job equitably done with the aid of their own tailor-made software. All that remains now is for the fixtures to spring into life out on the pitch when the action gets underway in earnest once again.