NO side has ever won four consecutive Bundesliga titles but that’s the aim for Bayern Munich in 2015/16. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has a look at the best outright odds for the new season.
Bayern Munich begin their quest for a 25th Bundesliga crown as the shortest-priced favourites in the league’s history, or at least since odds records were kept. No German club has ever won four successive league titles and no German side has ever started the campaign as short as 2/17 (Bwin). The bookies firmly believe Pep Guardiola’s charges will blow away the opposition yet again.
The Bavarian powerhouse often kick-off their season as odds-on favourites and having finished 10 points clear of the pack despite a slight slump in 2015, it’s hard to bet against the German giants. Still, there are potential cracks in the ranks despite a summer of strengthening at the Allianz Arena.
Guardiola is entering the third and final year of his contract and there are plenty of rumblings of discontent stemming from the Bayern board and their demanding fan base. Winning the domestic league has become almost secondary to the supporters with double and treble success expected. In 2014/15, Pep suffered semi-final exits in the Champions League and DFB Pokal – not good enough for the Munich masses.
Chile superstar Arturo Vidal has been brought in along with Douglas Costa to add bite, pace and quality as FC Hollywood reboot for another stab at domestic continental glory. Leading lights Arjen Robben, Philip Lahm and David Alaba are all fit and firing following a full pre-season and so it would take a brave punter to oppose the Bavarians in the Outright market – even a crippling injury crisis failed to stop Bayern in their tracks last time out.
Without Bayern Munich
Here’s where things get much more interesting. Wolfsburg are 2/1 (Betway) market leaders in the Without Bayern Munich market following a memorable campaign last season. But Dieter Hecking’s men just have to be opposed with the sale of Bundesliga Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne looking increasingly likely.
The Belgian laid on 20 assists – a league record – and added 10 goals in a stunning campaign for the Wolves. His departure would rob Hecking of 42% of last season’s goals. There’s also no guarantee Bas Dost can continue his remarkable post-Christmas form that saw the Dutch marksman net 18 goals in 26 games this calendar year.
Big things are expected of Dortmund (12/5 BetBright) again but the Black & Yellows begin their first Bundesliga season without Jurgen Klopp since 2008. Thomas Tuchel is without doubt an outstanding young coach and with BVB keeping hold of their headline performers, a huge improvement on their 2014/15 nightmare should see the club compete for a Champions League place again. However, Dortmund are best left alone for now as we take a watching brief to their rebirth under Tuchel.
Bayer Leverkusen are next in line at 6/1 (William Hill) and this is the bet I’m more than happy to get involved with. Coach Roger Schmidt’s had a full season in charge at the BayArena and whilst a fourth-placed finish was around about par, progress can certainly be made by Die Werkself after a decent summer of business.
Gonzalo Castro was snapped up by Dortmund and Simon Rolfes has moved on but Bayer’s capture of Chilean Charles Aranguiz eclipses those losses along with the return of Christoph Kramer. Freiburg forward Admir Mehmedi will provide decent back-up to the attack and Bundesliga big-hitters Karim Bellarabi, Heung-min Son and Hakan Calhanoglu remain.
There are question marks over Leverkusen’s defence – ideally Schmidt will add a body or two before the end of September to bulk out the backline – but there’s more than enough reason to believe Bayer’s high-intensity and devastating all-action football can reap rewards in 2015/16.
Borussia Monchengladbach can be backed at 8/1 (BetVictor) but Max Kruse’s departure for Wolfsburg and the expiration of Kramer’s loan are two hurdles to overcome. Hannover skipper Lars Stindl is a shrewd addition but with the added workload of Champions League football, the Foals may find their place in the top-four under threat.
Former Paderborn head coach Andre Breitenreiter is the new man in charge at Schalke (14/1 Ladbrokes) after a treacherous year of leadership from Roberto Di Matteo. The Royal Blues sludged their way through the season, eventually finishing sixth and being out-scored by every other top-half team. Schalke fans are hoping for a stress-free campaign and a top-four finish; even so, expect plenty of growing pains in Gelsenkirchen as the squad familiarises itself with Breitenreiter’s philosophy.
So with Dortmund and Schalke under new management, Wolfsburg and Gladbach weaker, it makes plenty of sense to make Leverkusen the best bet at 6/1 (William Hill) in the Without Bayern market.
In a market devoid of any value whatsoever on first glance, it’s intriguing to see Werder Bremen chalked up at almost even-money (9/10 888 Sport) to finish in the top-10. The River Islanders were rejuvenated following Viktor Skrypnyk’s appointment midway through their 2014/15 campaign, coming ever so close to securing a Europa League place despite flirting with rock bottom before the reserve team boss was promoted.
Werder’s form at their Weserstadion home under Skrypnyk’s charge (W8-D2-L3) was especially impressive, as was their W11-D6-L8 return from all 25 matches under his watch. Should Bremen continue their upward trajectory at the same 1.56 points-per-game rate, a place just outside the top-four could be on the cards.
Last season Bremen finished 10th and although dangerous striker duo Davie Selke and Franco di Santo left, Anthony Ujah’s arrival at least gives the side presence up top. Dead-ball specialist Zlatko Junuzovic remains in tow and with a decent crop of young talent to call upon too, I see no reason why the River Islanders can’t improve on last term with a full campaign under Skrypnyk’s watch.
With Paderborn, Braunschweig, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Greuther Furth all lasting just one season in the Bundesliga, it’s no surprise to see newly-promoted Darmstadt (9/20 Sportingbet) and Ingolstadt (11/10 Betway) the major candidates to drop out of the German top tier. With only two automatic relegation places to fill, finding a winner can be tough.
Darmstadt should find the going incredibly tough following their astonishing rise – the club only survived relegation to the fourth tier on the final day of the 2012-13 season. But following unlikely back-to-back promotions, Dirk Schuster’s men find themselves amongst the big guns.
If promotion was described as the ‘eighth wonder of the world', consolidating must be considered the ninth for Darmstadt. Rank outsiders, Schuster's troops just don’t have the resources to successfully compete alongside the league’s giants and have lost a number of crucial components to last season's squad. On paper they're a weaker proposition than when starting their Bundesliga 2 season this time last year and relegation looks ominous.
Ingolstadt deserve a chance from punters in their debut Bundesliga season. The past two Bundesliga 2 winners have survived and although a fight against the drop is most likely, the club have signed well over the summer and are astutely managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Audi-backed side should compete well and whilst following in the footsteps of Koln’s 12th-palced finish following promotion will be the aim, simply surviving remains their number one target.
Hertha Berlin (9/2 Betfair) face another uphill task despite the loss of no major players during the off-season. Pal Dardai remains in charge and Vladimir Darida’s signing from relegated Freiburg should bolster the midfield. But more is required from the likes of Salomon Kalou and Hajime Hosogai if the capital club are to have serious aspirations of moving up the table. Berlin are organised and reasonably solid in defence under Dardai but the club are still searching for a consistent goalscorer, ever since Adrian Ramos upsticks for Dortmund two years ago.
Hannover (5/1 Betway) are the club that standout in the Relegation market. Michael Frontzeck’s being given the task to rejuvenate the club who very nearly suffered relegation last term following a disastrous run of 16 winless fixtures. Talisman Lars Stindl has left along with key players Leonardo Bittencourt and Joselu and a whole host of others during a summer of change.
The club has replaced the old guard with an inexperienced group that boast more potential than here-and-now quality and a slow start could easily work against Frontzeck’s troops. Shorn of any real quality, Hannover may struggle to improve on last year’s meek finish and a battle against the drop seems most likely. They’re well worth a poke at 5/1.
Hamburg (13/2 Betfair) are likely to interest many following their disastrous recent efforts but the Dinosaur always seem to find a way to survive whilst Koln’s (13/2 Betfair) safety-first approach under Peter Stoger should again see them into a lower mid-table position.
Bundesliga – Bayer Leverkusen in the Without Bayern Munich market (6/1 William Hill)
Bundesliga – Werder Bremen to finish in the Top-10 (9/10 888 Sport)
Bundesliga – Hannover to be relegated (5/1 Betway)
*I've made pages of notes on all 18 Bundesliga teams ahead of the 2015/16 renewal and happy to field questions and answers on Twitter. Time beat me and I've been unable to comment on each club.*
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