The 2017-18 Bundesliga campaign kicks off this Friday night, as Bayer Leverkusen head to the Allianz Arena in search of a first victory in five meetings with Bayern Munich.
After much discussion at Ladbrokes News HQ, here are our tips for what promises to be another thrilling season in the German top-flight.
Bayern’s title rivals: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
We considered calling this section ‘title contenders’, but realistically, anyone who finishes above Bayern will win the title. Despite the fact they’re joint-sixth favourites, there’s plenty to suggest that Julian Nagelsmann’s side can produce a genuine title tilt.
Savvy summer additions like Serge Gnabry and Havard Nordtveidt add quality to a side with two excellent strikers in Sandro Wagner and Andrej Kramaric. And they’ve gone from strength to strength under their young head coach – with a club-record fourth-placed finish last term.
Having taken four points off the likes of Der FCB and Schalke 04, as well as beating Leverkusen home-and-away, Hoffenheim aren’t scared of the division’s traditional heavyweights. They’re 100/1 to lift the Bundesliga title, while there’s 11/1 about Die Krauchgauer coming good in the Betting without Bayern Munich market.
The surprise package: VfB Stuttgart
Hannes Wolf’s side won 2.Bundesliga last term, securing an instant return to the top-flight. Die Schwaben were outstanding on the road, picking up four points more than any other side on their travels – including a 4-0 demolition of Erzgebirge Aue.
While they’re unlikely to enjoy such comfortable victories in the top-flight, Wolf’s summer acquisitions, including former German international goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler and prolific Congolese midfielder Chadrac Akolo means they’re an increasingly well-equipped side.
With a talented young coach, a well-balanced squad and a huge fanbase (averaging crowds of over 50,000 in the second tier last term), we’re tipping a top-half finish.
The relegation tip: Mainz 05
Die Nullfunfer avoided a relegation play-off on goal difference alone last term – but they look unlikely to beat the drop again.
Picking up just nine points from their final 12 games of the 2016-17 campaign, an ill-equipped and ill-disciplined Mainz limped over the line. And things aren’t looking any better with the exit of last season’s joint-top-scorer Jhon Cordoba.
Oh, and new first-team manager Sandro Schwarz was in charge of Mainz II last season, a campaign where the club’s second side suffered relegation from 3.Liga. It’s not looking good for them really, is it?
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing