Munich lead the Bundesliga charge on champions WolfsburgAugust 6th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS
Hamburg, Aug 6 (DPA) Bayern Munich are the top favourite with no-nonsense coach Louis van Gaal as they lead the charge on surprise champions VfL Wolfsburg when the Bundesliga season kicks off Friday.
Munich chose van Gaal’s authority after the failure of the Juergen Klinsmann experiment from last season.
They fought off big interest from Real Madrid in their French superstar Franck Ribery and splashed out 50 million euros (72 million dollars) in new players, led by Germany striker Mario Gomez, who joined from VfB Stuttgart for a league-record 30 million euros.
Wolfsburg outlasted Munich to win a surprise first title thanks to the magic of former Bayern coach Felix Magath and 54 goals from the striker duo of Grafite (28) and Edin Dzeko (26).
Magath has since departed for the biggest challenge of his life at Schalke 04 as Wolfsburg aim to establish themselves at the top under new helmsman Armin Veh.
SV Hamburg, Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen hope to play at the top as well in what Magath has named “the strongest league in the world” because it is more balanced than the Premier League, Serie A and Spain’s Primera Division.
The 18 clubs have sold a record 435,000 season tickets and shirt sponsors are splashing out more money than elsewhere for a league total of 130 million euros for the season.
With the transfer window still open until August 31, the clubs have already spent a record 178.5 million euros on new players.
That may be less than the big summer investment of Real Madrid alone, and the Bundesliga may not be able to lure the game’s biggest stars, but the league is appealing for many other players and healthy.
“The Bundesliga is very attractive for players. We have by far the best stadiums and the biggest amount of spectators in the world,” said Bayer Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller.
Munich are expected to lead the way again this time around with their first game a true test at TSG Hoffenheim on a new Saturday evening slot.
Boosted by the hiring of Gomez, Ukraine midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (from Zenit St Petersburg) and Croatians Danijel Pranjic and Ivica Olic, van Gaal will hope to hit the ground running.
“We want to play attractive football as soon as possible,” said van Gaal.
Uli Hoeness, in his final months as general manager before he steps down after 30 years in the job in December, is upbeat that Munich will lift trophies again.
“I am convinced that we are looking ahead at good times,” he said.
The action starts when Wolfsburg host Veh’s former team VfB Stuttgart in the curtain-raiser.
The freshly crowned German Footballer of the Year Grafite and Edin Dzeko have renewed their contracts and the hiring of forward Obafemi Martins and midfielders Karim Ziani and Thomas Kahlenberg for some 20 million euros gives the Volkswagen-sponsored club more depth.
“I am looking forward to the Bundesliga and the Champions League. We have high expectations at Wolfsburg,” said Dzeko.
Elsewhere, Stuttgart have reinvested part of the Gomez income on Russia forward Pavel Pogrebnyak (11 million euros) and the return of Belarussian Alexander Hleb on loan from Barcelona.
Hamburg have splashed out 20 million euros on Swedish striker talent Marcus Berg and Eljero Elia. Bremen spent 8.5 million euros on midfielder Marko Marin and have Tim Borowski back from Munich after getting 24.5 million euros from Juventus for Brazilian playmaker Diego.
Cologne delighted their fans in bringing Lucas Podolski back from Munich for a club record 10 million euros and hope to stay in the top flight just like the promoted teams of Mainz 05, SC Freiburg and Nuremberg.
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- Champions Wolfsburg beat Stuttgart 2-0 in Bundesliga opener - Aug 08, 2009
- Bayern Munich on revenge mission in Wolfsburg - Feb 04, 2010
- Grafite voted Germany's football of the year - Aug 02, 2009
- New coaches galore as Bundesliga kicks off - Aug 07, 2009
- Grafite extends contract with Wolfsburg until 2012 - Jun 30, 2009
- Wolfsburg appoint McClaren coach - May 11, 2010
- German Bundesliga kicks off August 27 - Jun 27, 2012
- Wolfsburg concede late 1-1 in Hamburg under new coach - Jan 30, 2010
- Coaching oldies set the pace in the Bundesliga - Dec 20, 2009
- Loew calls up Hunt and Mueller for friendlies - Nov 06, 2009
- Watch out Europe, Bayern are back - Dec 09, 2009
- Bochum, Hertha seek Cup relief after Bundesliga slump - Sep 21, 2009
- Munich meet Frankfurt again, in German Cup - Oct 26, 2009
- Manchester City agrees to pay 27 million pounds for Dzeko - Jan 03, 2011
Tags: bayer leverkusen, bayern munich, edin dzeko, felix magath, first game, franck ribery, grafite, helmsman, hertha berlin, hoffenheim, mario gomez, primera division, real madrid, rudi voeller, schalke 04, shirt sponsors, sports director, sv hamburg, true test, werder bremen