Cologne – The wait will soon be over. On 14 August, the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign will get underway, at long last.
To whet your appetite for what promises to be yet another scintillating season of drama, suspense and emotions, bundesliga.com has seven reasons why the 2015/16 campaign is set to be the most spectacular yet.
1. The sweet smell of excitement
FC Bayern München are the big favourites to win the title again, but there can be no guarantees for them succeeding, especially not when you consider that Pep Guardiola's men have lost six of their last eight competitive fixtures. VfL Wolfsburg, on the other hand, are riding the crest of a wave having clinched the last two domestic trophies – the DFB Cup and the Supercup – and Bayern's advantage at the top has reduced year on year over the past three seasons. Their 25-point cushion over Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13 reduced to a nevertheless comfortable 19 points in 2013/14, but it was 'only' ten points over the Wolves last term. And there's another fact which suggests the challengers have a chance this time around: no team has ever won four Bundesliga titles in a row.
2. Too many contenders for too few places
The battle for a place in the UEFA Champions League next season promises to be the tightest yet with so many clubs in contention, even if only a few of them are actually declaring a top-four finish as their objective. Bayern and Wolfsburg are not hiding their intention to be part of European football's premium competition next season, which would leave two more places up for grabs and no shortage of potential candidates to fill them. Borussia Dortmund, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Schalke will certainly want one of them, but there is not enough room for everybody.
3. Strong goalkeepers, yet many goals
The fact that fewer goals were scored in 2014/15 than in previous years was mainly down to the exceptional performances of the goalkeepers. In the first season with the new 'Torfabrik' football, 70 percent of all shots on goal were saved. At the same time, there were very few big mistakes made by goalkeepers – 38 in total, 19 fewer than in the previous season. In spite of this, there were still more goals in the Bundesliga (2.75 per game on average) than in England (2.56), Spain (2.65), Italy (2.69) or France (2.49).
4. Top marks in Europe
It is no secret that some of the most modern stadiums in the world can be found in the Bundesliga. In 2014/15, an average of 43,500 fans passed through the gates. That mark was bettered only in 2011/12, when the average was 45,100. No other league in Europe can come even close to challenging that figure. In England's Premier League, the average is 36,200, in Spain's Primera Division it is 27,000 while Italy's Serie A (22,200) and France's Ligue 1 (22,200) lie a long way behind with practically half as many fans on average.
5. New faces
There are several top new arrivals in the Bundesliga this summer with Bayern leading the way with newcomers Arturo Vidal (l.) and Douglas Costa. Kevin Kuranyi returns with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim while Sascha Riether (FC Schalke 04) and Piotr Trochowski (FC Augsburg) are two more former German internationals once again plying their trade in the Bundesliga. Yoshinori Muto is the latest big-name Japanese player to arrive, joining 1. FSV Mainz 05, while the talented Luc Castaignos will be pulling on an Eintracht Frankfurt shirt, Pavel Kaderabek will wear the blue of Hoffenheim, Jan Kliment the red and white of VfB Stuttgart and Andre Ramalho joining Die Werkself. That's without forgetting the new arrivals from Bundesliga 2 with FC Ingolstadt 04 boasting Pascal Groß, whose set-pieces led to an amazing 21 goals last season.
6. Is 54 a lucky number?
Speaking of Ingolstadt, they became the 54th club to join the Bundesliga, meaning they have 17 all-new top-flight fixtures to look forward to this season. Where will their journey take them? Will they be able to follow in the footsteps of Hoffenheim and Augsburg by establishing themselves in the top flight, or will the more recent examples of SpVgg Greuther Fürth and SC Paderborn be their benchmark?
7. Darmstadt's return a good omen for Hamburger SV
After an absence of 33 years, SV Darmstadt 98 are back in the big time. Like in 1978/79 and 1981/82, the Lillies will be one of the rank outsiders this season, and they were unable to stay up those years. What that means for HSV, however, is that they can look forward to Darmstadt's next season in the top flight since it was they who won the title in each of those seasons.
By Karol Herrmann / translation by Ben Gladwell