Posted: Thursday August 4, 2011 10:52AM ; Updated: Friday August 5, 2011 8:56AM
Raphael Honigstein
Raphael Honigstein>INSIDE SOCCER

Bundesliga season predictions (cont.)

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11. VfL Wolfsburg

Timothy Chandler
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg will be hard pushed to match last season's 6th-place finish.
Kai Pfaffenbach/Landov

Last year's finish: 15th

Key additions: Christian Träsch, Srdan Lakic, Hasan Salihamidzic, Patrick Ochs, Marco Russ

Key losses: Grafite, Sascha Riether

Felix Magath's penchant for going nuts in the transfer market ensures that there'll be at least one or two more arrivals this month, as well as the possible departure of out-of-favour Diego, who's wanted by Atletico Madrid. The Volkswagen-owned team will be sturdier at the back but there's little flair, especially in wide areas. A transitional season is the best VfL supporters can hope for -- before Magath will attempt to spend his way back into the big time in the summer of 2012.

12. Mainz 05

Last year's finish: 5th

Key additions: Zdenek Pospech, Anthony Ujah, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Key losses: André Schürrle, Lewis Holtby, Christian Fuchs

"We are 100 percent different this year", said manager Thomas Tuchel. Different in a good way, though? Mainz has lost the heart of its successful "boy band" in Schürrle and Holtby and there are bound to be setbacks in the rebuilding process, even if the new recruits are able to reproduce the high-pressing game that took 05 to the edge of the Champions League last season . Survival is not in question, however.

13. Köln

Last year's finish: 10th

Key additions: Sascha Riether

Key losses: Fabrice Ehret

The comings and goings in the summer have had little bearing on the first 11 but there's already been a big, hysterical debate so typical of this club: new manager Stale Solbakken has fallen out with star striker Lucas Podolski after stripping the Germany player of his beloved armband. Solbakken's progressive methods will ensure Köln won't get sucked into the relegation quagmire but it's difficult to see it getting anywhere near the top third.

14. 1.FC Nürnberg

Last year's finish: 6th

Key additions: Timm Klose, Tomas Pekhart, Markus Feulner

Key losses: Julian, Schieber, Mehmet Ekici, Ilkay Gündogan

After a sensational campaign, the Franconians narrowly missed out on the Europa League, which is perhaps just as well: after the loss of their three most influential players, the squad would not have been able to cope. As it is, Dieter Hecking's expertise and a host of new, promising youngsters will see them do all right, even if last year's expedition to the higher echelons of the table will be but a distant memory.

15. SC Freiburg

Last year's finish: 9th

Key additions: Garra Dembélé

Key losses: Ömer Toprak

In anticipation of cashing in on goal-getter Papiss Demba Cissé, Freiburg brought in Dembélé from Levski Sofia. But Cissé has still not been sold, despite plenty of interest, and Freiburg look like starting the season with two excellent strikers. Another comfortable midtable spot seems possible but Marcus Sorg, the new manager, is an unknown quantity at this level and the early matches point to lack of cohesion.

16. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Last year's finish: 16th

Key additions: Oscar Wendt, Yuki Otsu

Key losses: Karim Matmour

The "Foals" will do well to stay the course again. Manager Lucien Favre seems adept at getting the most out of a squad but the overall quality is still fairly limited. The experienced Swedish defender Wendt will add some steel at the back while midfielder Otsu is among the steadily increasing number of Japanese imports eager to make a name for himself in the Bundesliga. There's an acute danger that star man Marco Reus will get tempting offers come January.

17. Hertha BSC Berlin

Last year's finish: promoted from 2. Bundesliga

Key additions: Maik Franz, Thomas Kraft, Andreas Ottl.

Key losses: Valeri Domovchiyski

Manager Markus Babbel has bought well in the offseason, considering the tight budget in the capital. Whether it'll be enough to survive is a different matter, however: Babbel is a coach who gets a team to play well but is less versed in finding solutions when results are bad. In light of the tough competition, the "Grand Old Dame" of German soccer might sadly not be quite up to scratch.

18. FC Augsburg

Last year's finish: promoted from 2. Bundesliga

Key additions: Dominic Peitz, Sebastian Langkamp, Lorenzo Davids

Key losses: Moritz Leitner, Sören Bertram

The Bundesliga debutante has its work cut out to stay afloat. A disagreement between striker Michael Thurk and Jos Luhukay that looks like resulting in the player's departure won't help matters in the slightest. Lorenzo Davids, cousin of Edgar, will provide a modicum of glamour; anything but bottom place, however, would be a huge surprise.

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