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All eyes on Munich as Bundesliga begins

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 14 Aug 2008


All eyes will be on Munich's Allianz Arena when defending champions Bayern Munich kick off the new Bundesliga season on Friday against Hamburg under the gaze of new coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Rarely has the arrival of a new coach been greeted with such interest in Germany as the former national team manager makes his eagerly awaited Federal league debut.

Having steered Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup this will be Klinsmann's first stewardship of a domestic team and he will be under pressure to repeat Bayern's league and cup double last season under Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Opposite him will be another new manager as Dutchman Martin Jol takes over at Hamburg from Huub Stevens.

Neither side have recruited hard in the summer, with Hamburg losing midfielder Rafael van der Vaart to Real Madrid.

Klinsmann's side is already full of stars with Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm all showing good form at June's Euro 2008.

On Saturday Champions League side Schalke 04 will be looking to stamp their authority on the league when they entertain Hanover.

Under Dutchman Fred Rutten, Schalke have recruited aggressive Dutch midfielder Orlando Engelaar and Peru striker Jefferson Farfan as they look to make a fist of wrestling the league title from Bayern.

In contrast, Hanover struggled for consistency last season but have brought in strikers Jan Schlaudraff and Mikael Forssell.

Big-spenders Wolfsburg and Cologne will go head-to-head on the opening day of the season.

Newly-promoted Cologne spent big in the summer, bringing in six new names and pulling off a coup by signing Portuguese star Petit from Benfica.

Under coach Christoph Daum, Cologne will want a strong start against Felix Magath's Wolfsburg who signed Italian World Cup winners Andrea Barzagli and Cristian Zaccardo over the summer.

Under new coach Bruno Labbadia Leverkusen will be looking to improve on last year's finish which saw them slip out of the title race when they take on Borussia Dortmund.

After Thomas Doll was shown the door, Dortmund have new coach Jurgen Klopp in charge, but they are missing several of their stars including Swiss captain Alexander Frei and midfielder Tinga.

One of the biggest success stories in German football will be realised when 1899 Hoffenheim make their Bundesliga bow against Energie Cottbus.

Having gone from the eighth level of the Bundesliga's structure, Hoffenheim won their second consecutive promotion last year.

Funded by one of Germany's richest men Dieter Hopp, they have been forged into a Bundesliga side by former Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick.

Having finished second in the Bundesliga last season, Werder Bremen will expect few problems when they begin their season at Arminia Bielefeld.

And 2007 champions VfB Stuttgart will want a win over last season's second division champions Borussia Monchengladbach who are back in the Bundesliga after a season away.


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