Bundesliga & Ligue Un Preview

 

We’re underway in the UK. Friday Night Football, Super Sunday and Monday Night Football are back. Hell! We even have Saturday Night Football this weekend! If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, Europe’s top leagues also return this weekend (with the exception of La Liga which started last weekend).

Here is the Lowe-Down on the other top European Leagues. 

Part 1.

Bundesliga:

There’s a saying in Germany called “Bayern-dusel” which translates as Bayern-luck. The sentiment behind it is pretty self-explanatory. Whenever Bayern needed a last minute goal, or something to go their way, it happened. Again and again. The Bavarians’ knack of pulling a rabbit out of the hat was evident in their dramatic title win last season. Going into the last game of the season they needed Dortmund to slip up at home to Mainz and to win against FC Koln. With 11 consecutive home wins, Dortmund were stunned as Mainz went 2-0 up after 24 minutes. As the afternoon progressed, Bayern took the lead but were then pegged back to 1-1. In the 89th minute, Bayern startlet Jamal Musiala scored, crushing Dortmund hearts and Bayern were champions again. Bayern-dusel!

Ahead of this season Bayern Munich added one of football’s biggest stars to their cast list. England captain Harry Kane has signed for a fee of around £100million in what is a major coup for the Bundesliga. Kim-Min Jae has joined too, fresh from winning Serie A with Napoli. From the outside, Bayern have strengthened and a 12th straight league title looks a formality. The reality, on the inside, is more of a soap opera, befitting of the “FC Hollywood” nickname the club holds. Head coach, Thomas Tuchel, is picking fights with Joshua Kimmich, publicly disagreeing with the midfielder about his ability to play as a No 6, and invoking criticism from Bayern legends for his “honest” criticism of his team. After last weekend’s super-cup mauling by RB Leipzig, Tuchel, not for the first time, said the performance was “inexplicable” and said “it looks like we didn’t do anything for four weeks”.  Tuchel has money in the bank with the Bayern bosses having been headhunted last season however, his honest, public outcries are drawing unwanted attention in Munich. All is not well in Munich and any ounce of vulnerability will give the chasing pack belief.

In the flock of teams chasing below, Dortmund are reeling from the end of last season as well as losing their talisman Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid.  They have sought to replace Bellingham with Felix Nmecha, a talented young player who impressed at Wolfsburg last season, and Marcel Sabitzer. There is a hope that Dortmund can kick on from their strong second half of last season and the unity and close bond at the club, seemingly missing in Munich, is their biggest ally.

I expect Bayer Leverkusen to continue their steady progress o with the impressive Xabi Alonson having had a full pre-season working with his team. RB Leipzig, whilst losing key players to Liverpool and Man City, have replenished their striking options with the arrivals of Lois Openda and Bejamin Sesko from RB Salzburg. The real romantic story of the Bundesliga has been Union Berlin. Since their promotion to the German top-flight, in 2019, their finishes have been 11th, 7th, 5th and 4th last season. Poetically, whilst Union qualified for the Champions League last season, their wealthy neighbour, Hertha, were relegated. Who could write them off going further next season?

Prediction time: With Kane’s signing, Bayern are undoubtedly stronger than last season and I fancy them to win a 12th Bundesliga title in a row.

Predictions:

1st Bayern

2nd Dortmund

3rd RB Leipzig

4th Bayer Leverkusen.

Golden Boot: Harry Kane

 

Ligue Un

Last season saw another competitive title race in Ligue Un with the sensational RC Lens pushing PSG right up until the final few weeks of the season. A PSG with an embarrassment of riches upfront in Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar flattered to deceive, limping over the line and ultimately causing Christophe Galtier to lose his job as head coach.

It’s been a quiet summer in the capital. Right? Wrong. The high-profile trifecta of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe has been dismantled with Messi landing in Miami and Neymar pitching up in Saudi Arabia at Al-Hilal. The remaining Kylian Mbappe has been involved in a summer transfer saga. No change there then… Mbappe, insistent on wanting to leave on a free next summer, is in talks with PSG to sign a new contract, presumably for an additional year. Whilst you may assume it would have a Real Madrid friendly release clause, French football does not allow for release clauses to be included in contracts. It’s assumed Mbappe will sign a separate agreement with PSG allowing him to go for a set fee next summer.

As for PSG’s incomings, they look quite sensible. Genuinely! Milan Skriniar and Marco Asensio have arrived on free transfers and forwards Ousmane Dembele and Goncalo Ramos arrive to complete an exciting, dynamic front three. The arrival of Luis Enrique as head coach marks the dawn of a new era with the Spanish tactician looking to implement a completely new brand of football.

So, will anyone be able to wrestle the title off PSG? Well, PSG’s main rival, last season, RC Lens have become weaker. Luis Openda, who scored 21 league goals has departed to RB Leipzig, whilst anchorman Seko Fofana has joined Al Nassr. To “go again” would be a massive ask for Lens given the departures and looks beyond them. On the French Riviera, it’s been all change at Marseille too. The head coach Igor Tudor left and has been replaced by the tactically astute Marcelino. In a club and fanbase that embodies chaos, Marcelino’s more disciplined and controlled “mode de vie” (way of life) looks to be a fascinating pairing. Marseille have replaced the iconic duo of Dimitri Payet and Alexis Sanchez with exciting wingers in Ismalia Sarr and Iliman Ndiaye. Pierre-Emerik Aubameyang has also joined on a free transfer.

I’m intrigued to see the new look Marseille and just how they fare. They may look at PSG as a side that will be in transition given the high-profile departures and new head coach joining and fancy their chances. However, with Mbappe seemingly staying and being available to play, I can’t see past PSG.

Predictions:

1st – PSG

2nd – Marseille

3rd – Monaco

4th - Lens

Golden boot: Kylian Mbappe. Who else?

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