Bundesliga season predictions (cont.)
Last year's finish: 12th
Key additions: Igor de Camargo, Mohamdou Idrissou, Anderson
Key losses: Rob Friend, Oliver Neuville, Roberto Colautti
De Camargo could turn out to be one of the buys of the season. Standard Liege's Brazilian captain, 27, was outstanding in midfield for the Belgians and has become an instant crowd favorite in the Borussia Park, too. Gladbach has been careful to buy quality rather than quantity. Relegation should not be an issue for manager Michael Frontzeck. -- but Europe won't be, either.
Last year's finish: 9th
Key additions: Lewis Holtby, Christian Fuchs, Sami Allagui
Key losses: Aristide Bancé, Tim Hoogland, Malik Fathi
The surprising transfer of striker Bancé (Burkina Faso) to Al Ahly (Dubai) has left Thomas Tuchel, 36, scrambling to find a replacement. The league's youngest manager has worked veritable wonders at the Bruchweg-Stadion; no other team is more impressive as a collective if you take the moderate quality of the individuals into account. A plethora of young talent makes Mainz optimistic about the future, but it's hard to see it fly quite as high as it did in 2009-10, when it surprised more aristocratic opposition with its full-throttle approach.
Last year's finish: 13th
Key additions: Adrezinho, Martin Lanig. Marvin Matip
Key losses: Zoran Tosic, Maniche, Piere Womé
Lukas Podolski can look forward to another tough season at the Rhein-Energie-Stadion. Cologne couldn't compete with CSKA Moscow for Tosic, who was a great success during his loan spell from Manchester United. Portuguese midfielder Maniche, however, won't be missed too much. Adrezinho (Vitoriá Guimarães) is an experienced midfielder and a dead-ball specialist, but Zvonimir Soldo's team still lacks creative guile to live up to its fans' lofty expectations.
Last year's finish: 14th
Key additions: Jan Rosenthal, Maximilian Nicu
Key losses: Mohamed Idrissou, Du-Ri Cha
Survival will be the name of the game for Robin Dutt's men. The SC manager will stick with his 4-1-4-1 system and hope that Senegalese striker Papisse Cisse continues to shine as the sole attacker. Midfielder Rosenthal, who was going nowhere at Hannover, will try to resurrect his career along with the Romanian Nicu, who endured a nightmarish season with Hertha BSC. Freiburg should scrape through again. Just barely.
Last year's finish: 16th
Key additions: Per Nilsson, Timmy Simons, Mehmet Ekici, Julian Schieber, Almog Cohen
Key losses: Angelos Charisteas, Dennis Diekmeier, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Daniel Gygax
The Franconians came through a relegation playoff against FC Augsburg to secure another season in the top flight last May. This year, it'll be another close shave, but there is enough quality to avoid the drop. Coach Dieter Hecking has assembled an interesting variety of youngsters -- former Stuttgart striker Schieber and Bayern on-loan forward Ekici are the pick of the bunch -- and added one or two gray(ish) hairs (Nilsson, Simons) for good measure.
Last year's finish: promoted
Key additions: Erwin Hoffer, Leon Jessen
Key losses: Sidney Sam, Georges Mandjeck, Markus Steinhöfer, Erik Jendrisek
Marco Kurz and his players were promoted by playing excellent attacking soccer. But their best players have since moved on. Sporting director and former Lautern legend Stefan Kuntz has brought in 13 new faces to make up for the deficit in skill. Germany's version of the "Red Devils" will have to fight their way to safety. Fantastic home support at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion should see them seize the playoff lifeline.
Last year's finish: 15th
Key additions: Mohammed Abdellaoue, Carlitos, Emanuel Pogatetz
Key losses: Jan Rosenthal, Arnold Bruggink, Sofien Chahed, Jiri Stajner
The alarm bells are ringing before the first league game has been played. The Lower Saxons crashed out against lower-league side SV Elversberg in the German FA Cup last week and had angry supporters blockade the team bus after the final whistle. President and benefactor Martin Kind is running out of patience with the loss-making club. All these factors combine to make Mirko Slomka the bookies' odds-on favorite to end up as the first managerial casualty of the season
Last year's finish: promoted
Key additions: Moritz Volz, Carlos Zambrano, Gerald Asamoah
Key losses: None
The league's most colorful club -- the fans are staunchly anarchist, its former president openly gay -- will provide plenty of fascinating storylines. The results, however, are unlikely to be that spectacular. Financial consolidation has been the main aim of the "Bundesliga buccaneers," who are in the process of rebuilding their famous Millerntor stadium. Spending on new players has consequently been minimal. Relegation is in the cards.
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