BERLIN: Bayern Munich kick off the 2016/17 German Bundesliga season at home to Werder Bremen today with their rivals out to stop them winning a fifth straight Bundesliga title. Germany defender Mats Hummels and burly Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches have been Bayern’s only off-season signings, but it’s all change behind the scenes at the Munich giants. Against Bremen, new coach Carlo Ancelotti will be in charge of his first game at the Allianz Arena as he becomes the fourth Italian to coach in the Bundesliga after Giovanni Trapattoni, Nevio Scala and Roberto Di Matteo.
“Our priority is to win the league,” Ancelotti said when he first took over from Pep Guardiola. “We’re looking forward to the start of the season and we’re ready for the first game against Bremen.” Ancelotti has brought in an entire new backroom staff, including son Davide, while Bayern are without a sporting director since Matthias Sammer quit with health problems at the end of the season. Security has been stepped up for the season opener in Munich amid terror fears in Germany.
Rucksacks over an A4 size and large bottles are banned with a crowd of around 75,000 expected. Nothing short of three points will be acceptable for the defending champions who made history last season by becoming the first club to win four consecutive German league titles. Bremen are without Germany striker Max Kruse, who injured his knee in their shock German Cup defeat to thirddivision Sportfreunde Lotte last Sunday.
Kruse has undergone an operation and will be out for the foreseeable future. “It’s a real blow because it looks like we’re going to be without a key player for a good while,” coach Viktor Skripnik told the club’s website. However Bremen, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, hope to have ex-Bayern striker and Peru veteran Claudio Pizarro, who turns 38 in October, back from a thigh injury. Several Bayern stars who are coming back from injury will be missing including Sanches, defender Jerome Boateng, defender Holger Badstuber and winger Arjen Robben.
Dortmund’s new eight
New-look Borussia Dortmund, who finished second to Bayern last season, open their campaign at home to Mainz tomorrow having made eight new signings over the summer. Spain defender Marc Bartra, France under-21 winger Ousmane Dembele, midfielder Sebastian Rode, Portugal international left-back Raphael Guerreiro and Germany winger Andre Schuerrle are some of the new signings set to feature for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
World Cup-winner Mario Goetze is also back in the yellow and black shirt after three years at Bayern. Having signed Germany and former Bayern striker Mario Gomez from Fiorentina, Wolfsburg open their campaign at Augsburg, who have former Darmstadt coach Dirk Schuster in charge this season. Alongside Gomez, Wolfsburg have signed Stuttgart forward Daniel Didavi, Spanish forward Borja Mayoral on loan from Real Madrid and Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski as they try to make sure they are snapping at the heels of the Bundesliga’s top clubs. — AFP