Bayern Munich kick-off the Bundesliga season at home to Hamburg on Friday with captain Philipp Lahm eyeing an historic fourth-straight German league title for Pep Guardiola’s swansong.
Guardiola will start the third and final season on his current contract with Bayern looking to maintain their ruthless recent domination of Hamburg.
The Bavarian giants show little sign of releasing their iron-grip on the Bundesliga trophy, which they have won for the last three seasons.
Bayern Munich could become the first German team to win four titles on the trot
Now, they want to be the first German team to win four titles in a row.
“Nobody has ever achieved that, not even the towering team of the 70s,a said Lahm.
“It’s a great incentive, the players are thinking about it,” while defender Jerome Boateng added “we desperately want to do it”.
Bayern have lost midfield general Bastian Schweinsteiger to Manchester United and recruited Chile’s midfield dynamo Arturo Vidal and Brazil winger Douglas Costa, but Hamburg should not present a problem for the Bavarian giants.
Bayern Munich won 8-0 in Hamburg’s last visit to Allian Arena
They were pounded 8-0 on their last Allianz Arena appearance in February and Hamburg’s goalless draw at home to Munich last September was seen as a moral victory for the hosts after 4-1, 3-1, 9-2 and 3-0 drubbings in prior meetings.
Having only stayed in Germany’s top flight by winning the relegation play-off for a second year running, Hamburg have boosted their defence by signing Bosnian bad-boy centre-back Emir Spahic.
Midfielder Marcelo Diaz, whose last-minute free-kick at Karlsruhe helped keep them up last season, was then part of Chile’s Copa America-winning side and he says Hamburg fans deserve more than to see their team struggle again.
“If a big club like Hamburg only survives relegation two years in a row, the fans can get frustrated and unhappy,” said Diaz.
“I am sure things will be different this season, because the club deserves better than an annual fight against relegation.”
Wolfsburg are at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday amidst the battle to keep Germany’s footballer of the year Kevin de Bruyne, with Manchester City having offered a reported 66 million euros ($46.9, US$73.35m) for the Belgium midfielder.
Wolves, who finished second to Bayern last season, boosted by their pre-season with a German Super Cup win over Bayern a fortnight ago on penalties and coach Dieter Hecking has extended his contract until 2018.
Borussia Dortmund start their Bundesliga life without Jurgen Klopp as Thomas Tuchel takes charge of their season opener at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach in Saturday evening’s key match.
Tuchel is seen as one of Germany’s rising star coaches and in his five seasons at Mainz only Bayern, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Schalke picked up more points in that time period.
Dortmund’s new-signing, Germany midfielder Gonzalo Castro has joined from Leverkusen, while Gladbach have boosted their ranks by signing 19-year-old Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen from Chelsea.
The teenager helped Denmark reach the semi-finals of the Under-21 European championships in June.
Darmstadt return to the German top division after 33-years
The two new teams in Germany’s top flight are Bavarian outfit Ingolstadt, who will make their Bundesliga debut at Mainz, and Darmstadt, who are back in the German league after a 33-year absence and are at home to Hanover on Saturday.
Ingolstadt include Australia striker Matthew Leckie, who scored seven goals to help them win the second division title last season.
“I’ve no fear of this team becoming the league’s whipping boys. I know we’ve got a certain amount of quality,” said Ingolstadt’s coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.
“Obviously, we’ll go into virtually every game as the underdogs, but that’s actually a good position to be in.”
VfB Stuttgart open their campaign at home to Cologne on Sunday without Australian goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak between the sticks after the 26-year-old tore his hamstring in pre-season training and will be out for the next four weeks.
Langerak has joined Stuttgart from Dortmund and will be battling with Poland international Przemyslaw Tyton for the Number One shirt.