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Bye Bye Bayern or More of the Same?
By Steve MacClare and Robbie Branom
September 1, 2008



Ottmar Hitzfeld sadly waving goodbye as he heads off to take over the Swiss National Team


     With the 2008-2009 Bundesliga campaign already in full force, Bayern Munich remain the favorite to repeat as champions of Germany. Having won the domestic double last season, edging Borussia Dortmund 2:1 after extra time in the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and winning the Bundesliga a clear 10 points ahead of second-place Werder Bremen, Bayern are, once again, the team to beat.
     But significant changes have occurred over the summer at the Munich giants. Ottmar Hitzfeld has left the post of Bayern manager to take over the Swiss National Team, and has been replaced by Juergen Klinsmann, who last managed the German National Team to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup before unexpectedly resigning. It is going to be a tough act to follow Hitzfeld, Bayern’s (and Germany’s) most decorated club manager in history, having won five Bundesliga titles to go along with three German Cup victories and the 2001 Champions League with the Bavarians. Klinsmann will be taking on his first ever job as club manager, and it is yet to be seen if he will be as successful at managing a club as he was at managing the German National Team.
     In addition to the change in manager, Bayern have also lost one of their most valued players of all time. With the retirement of ever unpopular German International goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, the young but extremely talented Michael Rensing is Bayern’s new number one in goal. He has been Kahn’s understudy for the past five seasons. Only three newcomers have been added to the squad, including German International Tim Borowski and Italian defender Massimo Oddo, but a number of players have been sold, including Jan Schlaudraff and Marcell Jansen. With Bayern competing in the Champions League once again after a one-year absence, their squad may not be deep enough to contend for all three titles this year.
     The challengers for the Bundesliga title are once again led by Werder Bremen. The north-German club has finished in the top three in each of the last five seasons, winning the title in 2004. Claudio Pizarro has arrived from Chelsea on a season-long loan. The biggest spenders on individuals though have been Schalke04. The Gelsenkirchen club have brought in Dutch international midfielder Orlando Engelaar from Twente Entschede for a reported €6m. He reunites with former Twente coach Fred Rutten. They have also added Jefferson Farfan from PSV Eindhoven. The busiest club have been Hamburg SV. They have signed Brazilian defender Alex Silva from Sao Paulo; Defender Marcell Jansen from Bayern Munich; Croatian forward Mladen Petric from Borussia Dortmund; Midfielder Dennis Aogo from Freiburg and Burkina Faso midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa on a free transfer from Freiburg. Settling in time will of course be needed.
     No preview of the Bundesliga 2008/2009 season would be complete without mention of 1899 Hoffenheim. At the beginning of the 1990s, the club was an obscure local amateur side playing in the eighth division Baden-Württemberg A-Liga. Then Dietmar Hopp bought them. The co-founder of software firm SAP had played for them as a youth and with his investment Hoffenheim have sprinted up the divisions and make their debut in the Bundesliga this year. Two Brazilians, Wellington and Gustavo, have arrived, as has Austrian international goalkeeper, Ramazan Özcan. Hoffenheim itself is a either a village or a suburb of Sinsheim, with Hoffenheim itself boasting a population of 3,286. Sinsheim as a whole only has 35,605 people. Incredibly they won their first two games and briefly topped the table. After three games, Schalke now lead with 7 points.

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