Get your previews & Predictions on German Bundesliga, as best 18 football teams battle around.
The German Bundesliga is widely regarded as one of the most technical football leagues around the world, and yet it retains that 'enjoyable to watch' factor too. The home of giants of the game such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga may have become rather predictable in recent years due to Bayern's dominance, but with several pretenders to their throne ready to rise up the 2016/17 campaign looks set to be a cracker.
The Bundesliga is responsible for the highest average stadium attendance in the world, so that say something about the quality and excitement of football on offer. More than 50,000 people regularly fill stadiums throughout the country to help create an atmosphere that is rarely matched anywhere else on the planet.
The action on the pitch isn't bad either; aided and abetted by a frantic promotion/relegation system at the foot of the league table and the battle for Champions League and Europa League places at the top.
Eighteen teams contest the German Bundesliga year on year, with matches played on Saturdays and Sundays (and occasionally in midweek too when the European schedule allows). This year Freiburg and Leipzig have replaced Stuttgart and Hannover in the division, with the former returning instantly after relegation in 2014/15 and the latter taking their place in the Bundesliga for the very first time. For Stuttgart, it is the first time in nearly four decades that they will operate outside of the German top flight.
As ever, the bottom two teams will automatically be relegated to Bundesliga 2, while the team finishing in sixteenth will have to enter a play-off against the team finishing third in the second division to determine who will take their place in the 2017/18 campaign.
At the other end of the table, the top three teams will take their place in the following season's Champions League, with the club finishing in fourth entering at the qualification phase, while the teams in fifth and sixth will be entered into the Europa League.
German history has been blighted by the political split between the East and West sides of the country, but in 1962 – following the early exit of the national team from the World Cup – it was decided that a centralised football league was needed in Germany to help improve the quality of players available. So the Bundesliga came into being for the 1962/63 season.
Bayern Munich (25 titles); Borussia Dortmund (five); Borussia M'Gladbach (five); Werder Bremen (four); Hamburg (three); Cologne (two); Wolfsburg (one).
Bayern and Dortmund have had a monopoly on the Bundesliga trophy since 2009, which is when Wolfsburg won their sole title.
The player with the most caps in Bundesliga history is Karl-Heinz Korbel, who appeared 602 times for Eintracht Frankfurt from 1972 to 1991. It's a record that appears unlikely ever to be beaten. Of the modern era, former Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, with 557 appearances, is the most capped player.
It is another player of the 1970s, legendary striker Gerd Muller, who appears likely to remain the Bundesliga's leading goalscorer for years to come. He netted 365 times for Bayern between 1965 and 1979, which is nearly more than 100 goals more than his nearest competitor; Klaus Fischer, who notched 268.
The reason why the Bundesliga is so beloved around the world is that it is a very open league, and that means that a few different teams could theoretically win the title. Bayern have dominated in recent years, but with their manager Pep Guardiola having swapped Munich for Manchester, it will be interesting to see how they fare in 2016/17.
Another old favourite of German football is Borussia Dortmund, and after a lean spell by their own high standards this could be the year that they really challenge Bayern for dominance. In Thomas Tuchel they have a well-respected and progressive coach, and their philosophy of buying young players with lots of potential could pay dividends this season.
Last season's third and fourth placed teams, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia M'gladbach, are tipped to go well again too, and Wolfsburg – if they can get the best from their squad – could spring a few surprise.
But yet again it is Bayern Munich who should dominate proceedings, and in Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller they boast one of the deadliest strike partnerships in the world. Guardiola may be gone, but his legacy will surely live on in a 26th Bundesliga title for his former employer.
It is hard for any side outside of the big four in the Bundesliga to break through and stake a claim for honours, although Hertha Berlin certainly tried their best in 2015/16. They were ensconced in the division's top three for much of the campaign, but a late season collapse meant that they didn't even finish in the European places. That will be tough to take, but at least they proved that German football's inner sanctum could be breached.
Of this year's vintage, well it wouldn't be a surprise if Leverkusen do well but it would be if they could finish inside the division's top two. They have a supremely talented young side, and finished third in 2015/16 despite missing injured midfield pair of Charles Aranguiz and Kevin Kampl for much of the campaign. With those two back to full fitness the side's metronomic passing will be enhanced even further, and £20m man Kevin Volland should add the weight of goals needed to turn Leverkusen from nearly men to genuine contenders. With Dortmund facing a first season without the likes of Mkhitaryan, Gundogan and Hummels, this could be Leverkusen's time.
And keep an eye out for promoted side RB Leipzig. They are a side that likes to attack with gusto, and so while there won't be many goalless matches when they are involved, it is their commitment to attacking football that could see them win plenty of games during this Bundesliga season. A top six finish would not be unthinkable.
It is goalscorers that generally capture most of the headlines in world football, and right now the Bundesliga boasts three of the very best in the business in Bayern pair Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller plus Dortmund frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
This trio plundered 75 league goals between them in 2015/16, and once again they are likely to be in amongst the goals, so clearly they will be well watched by anyone with an interest in the Bundesliga.
They aren't the only ones capable of putting the ball in the net. Former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez has enjoyed a career renaissance at Leverkusen, and his record of 26 goals in 40 appearances last season marks the Mexican as an outstanding finisher worthy of gracing any team or division. German frontman Mario Gomez returns to the Bundesliga after a spell in Turkey, and after impressing for the national team at Euro 2016 he will be looking to make his mark with new club Wolfsburg.
The Bundesliga is known for producing fine young talents, and it appears to have a number well worthy of attention amongst its ranks once again. Bayern's Joshua Kimmich has commanded a starting spot in their recent times, and after breaking into Germany's Euro 2016 starting eleven he will be expected to shine in 2016/17. So too will Borussia M'gladbach's Mahmoud Dahoud, a 20-year-old midfield playmaker who contributed five goals and nine assists to his side's cause last season.
And beware the player with a point to prove. Mario Gotze scored the winning goal for Germany in the final of World Cup 2014, but his move from Dortmund to Munich went sour and he very rarely featured for the champions last season. A return to his former employer this term could provide Gotze with the platform he needs to remind the world just how good he is.
Bayern must be one of the shortest-priced title favourites in the world at 1/6, and that's not a huge surprise given that they have defended their Bundesliga title successfully for the last three seasons. Some of their best players may be approaching the twilight of their career, but several key men are just hitting their peak. With Dortmund weakened by their summer transfer activity, you have to expect Bayern to clinch a fifth straight Bundesliga title.
Helpfully there is betting value to be had elsewhere. Each way bets in the Top Goalscorer market pay out on three places, so having a small wager on Javier Hernandez looks smart. His Leverkusen side continue to improve, and given his goalscoring exploits for every team we've played for we know that 2015/16 wasn't a 'flash in the pan' for the man known as Chicarito.
Leverkusen can be backed at 8/5 to finish in the top three, and that looks outstanding value, while in the top goalscoring team market Dortmund – with the addition of Gotze and Andre Schurrle, look a fantastic price at 9/5 to outscore Bayern as they did in 2015/16.
Elsewhere, Hoffenheim look likely candidates for relegation, so we were gobsmacked to see them available at 15/1 with some bookmakers to suffer that fate. They were over-ran by opponents at times last season, and their goal difference was the worst of any team outside the division's bottom three. They conceded in 82% of their matches, so unless they have solved their defensive problems over the summer they look destined for another tough season.