All of the sudden, the German Bundesliga is looking more appealing. Along with the French Ligue 1, it's commencing this weekend, therefore beginning earlier than the other major European leagues. This season will be more intriguing than others and needless to say, some of it is to do with Bayern Munich.
Die Roten have hired former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who is back in coaching after a one-year sabbatical. Having taken over an already successful side, one can only wonder how Guardiola can improve this Bayern squad after Jupp Heynckes' great work.
Bayern won the treble last season. That included an easy Bundlesliga title win and victory in the UCL Final, both at the expense of Borussia Dortmund. Now that Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara have arrived, it would interesting to see how these two can fit into the starting 11 or if they will warm the bench.
The surprising thing is that Dutch winger Arjen Robben is still at the club. Robben has a reputation for being an individualist so if he can fit into Guardiola's system, it would be remarkable. On paper, the Robben-Guardiola pairing looks like a relationship made in hell.
Such is the strength of Bayern, Die Roten were able to sell striker Mario Gomez to Italian club Fiorentina and could have bought Polish striker Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund. After losing Gotze and two trophies to Bayern, losing Lewandowski would have rubbed more salt into the wound.
The Pole will probably leave the BVB after this season on a free transfer but in case someone buys him before this transfer window closes, Dortmund has bought Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Jurgen Klopp's side must have a fascination with players with long names because it has resulted in memes posted on social media. In defence, BVB has signed Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen but it is BVB's new singing in midfield that probably has the most intriguing name.
Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (pronouced Mi-ki-tar-yan) was bought from Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk for €27.5 million. The midfielder score 25 goals in the Ukrainian Premier League last season and will add even more quality to BVB's midfield. Klopp's team is known for playing entertaining football and this season will be no different. Commentators will also have lots of fun pronouncing the surnames of Dortmund's players too.
Bayer Leverkusen also qualified automatically for the UCL but the Lowen haven't made any major signings. Forward Andre Schurrle was sold to EPL giants Chelsea for €21 million but lesser names, particularly youngsters have been brought into the club. Italy U/21 defender Giulio Donati has been added to the defence and Socceroo Robbie Kruse has been added to the attack. Both players are older than Schurrle but they haven't played in as many big matches as than the departed forward. Sami Hyypia's side lacks big names but it still has Stefan Kiessling in attack and he will be joined by Korean forward Son Heung-Min from Hamburg. If they can perform well in attack, Bayer can still punch above its weight.
Schalke 04 will be in the UCL qualifiers and Die Königsblauen have added Mainz's Adam Szalai to the attack and Dortmund's Felipe Santana to the defence. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wasn't very prolific last season, scoring only 10 goals in the Bundesliga. A striker his calibre should bounce back but Szalai will be there waiting for his chance.
Freiburg was last season's surprise packets, finishing fifth but have added striker Mike Hanke to the roster, who only scored four goals last season for Borussia Moenchengladbach. Perhaps the club is just taking it a game at a time and not expecting much of the same.
Borussia Moenchengladbach and Wolfsburg will be intriguing sides to watch and probably should finish higher than Freiburg but the form of their experienced players will make a difference. Die Fohlen still has Juan Arango and Filip Daems in their side and Die Wölfe will be reliant on Brazilian playmaker Diego and Croatian forward Ivica Olic. Die Fohlen does have some young stars in Granit Xhaka and Luuk De Jong to depend on though.
One club that has started to fall is Werder Bremen. Coach Thomas Schaaf is gone and so has Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. For those who remember the sides that played in the UCL, those days could be in the past. New coach Robin Dutt will have a tough job on his hands trying to make this team competitive. Werder is in better shape than Hoffenheim, who surprised neutrals when they were promoted to the Bundesliga a few seasons a go but had to go to a play-out to secure its Bundesliga survival.
It begins again this Friday (Saturday morning AEST) and it will be good to see who will be able to challenge Bayern, who can be a surprise packet or who will fall from grace.