From Augsburg to Wolfsburg, what can Germany’s top-flight teams expect this season?

    The 2021-22 Bundesliga season concluded just 80 days ago, and a lot has happened in that relatively short span of time. German football has enjoyed a bit of a holiday, players have come and gone, and clubs have toured the world over as they prepare for the 2022-23 campaign.

    Those preparations have a different feel at all 18 clubs in Germany‘s first division. Returning giants of the German game like Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen will be working out how best to avoid a second relegation in three seasons, while headliners Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be charting the best path forward without the league’s two best players in recent years, as Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona and Erling Haaland departed for Manchester City.

    As the English-language voice of the Bundesliga, Derek Rae is intimately familiar with Germany’s history makers and up-and-comers alike, so who better to walk us through what all 18 teams in the country’s top flight can expect in the 2022-23 season?

    Jump to: Augsburg | Bayern | Bochum | Bremen | Cologne | Dortmund | Eintracht | Freiburg | Gladbach | Hertha | Hoffenheim | Leipzig | Leverkusen | Mainz | Schalke | Stuttgart | Union | Wolfsburg

    Transfers in: Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin), Maximilian Bauer (Greuther Furth), Ermedin Demirovic (Freiburg), Elvis Rexhbecaj (Wolfsburg)
    Transfers out: Jan Moravek (released), Alfred Finnbogason (released), Michael Gregoritsch (Freiburg)
    2021-22 finish: 14th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Reece Oxford
    Will their manager last the season? No

    Is this the season when Augsburg finally get relegated? It might be. Enrico Maassen is the new coach, and he’s been charged with the task of finding an identity for this club, and this has been the problem going back a number of years. Markus Weinzierl, in his second spell in charge of the club in 2021-22, couldn’t reproduce the identity they forged in the first half of last decade.

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    Without Gregoritsch — his goals were so important in the second half of last season — they could struggle to find inspiration in front of goal. They have USMNT striker Ricardo Pepi, of course, and his January signing was a big story, but he failed to make an impact and I’m not sure he’s going to be able to get into the team in 2022-23.

    Predicted finish: 17th

    Transfers in: Adam Hlozek (Sparta Prague)
    Transfers out: Lucas Alario (Eintracht Frankfurt), Julian Baumgartlinger (released)
    2021-22 finish: 3rd
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Patrik Schick
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Is this the season for the club unfairly dubbed “Neverkusen” to end a silverware drought stretching back three decades? I’m not going to say it will be, but it’s safe to opine that Leverkusen have rarely looked in better shape approaching a new campaign.

    By announcing contract extensions for Schick and Florian Wirtz, Bayer 04 gave lie to the notion that they’re just a high-profile steppingstone for gifted young players. Wirtz is still recovering from a torn cruciate ligament and will need all his time to be ready for the World Cup. Still, the point is the top players — Moussa Diaby included — remain at the club.

    There is a balance about Leverkusen that is admirable and that’s a credit to coach Gerardo Seoane, embarking on his second season with the Werksclub (the factory club). Seoane showed he can tweak his lineup and tactics according to the scale of the task needed, although the preferred emphasis is on slick, eye-catching, attacking football.

    Simon Rolfes, now sporting CEO in his own right having succeeded the retiring Rudi Voller, has one of the most impressive scoring networks anywhere and it shows. Leverkusen have never looked as well prepared to aim high, although their DBF-Pokal exit at the hands of third-tier Elversberg on Saturday is a stumble out of the blocks they could’ve done without.

    Predicted finish: 2nd

    Bayern Munich

    Transfers in: Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Mathys Tel (Rennes)
    Transfers out: Niklas Sule (Borussia Dortmund), Marc Roca (Leeds United), Corentin Tolisso (Lyon), Omar Richards (Nottingham Forest), Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace)
    2021-22 finish: 1st
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Sadio Mane
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    While Julian Nagelsmann succeeded in guiding Bayern to a milestone 10th successive Meisterschale, it was the minimum requirement for Germany’s biggest and most powerful club. The second half of the season in particular was not up to the standards expected in Munich with the Champions League elimination at Villarreal‘s hands still a painful memory.

    Nagelsmann didn’t tinker much with the formula bequeathed to him by Hansi Flick but expect tactical changes this season, especially as the post-Lewandowski years begin. In Mane, Bayern have signed a true world star whose flexibility — he can play wide or just off the front — will appeal to his coach. Nagelsmann can’t complain about previously maligned sporting chief Hasan Salihamidzic, who has had his best summer ever, bringing in not just Mane but also De Ligt, Gravenberch, Mazraoui and the precocious Tel.

    Yet questions still abound. Can De Ligt, once he gets his fitness up, be the organisational leader Bayern have lacked at the back? How does Nagelsmann get the talented Jamal Musiala into the team? Will Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry show that their second-half-of-the-campaign slumps represented a mere aberration?

    Predicted finish: 1st



    Alphonso Davies looks forward to having Sadio Mane on his side after facing off with him in the Champions League.

    Transfers in: Kevin Stoger (Mainz), Philipp Forster (Stuttgart)
    Transfers out: Jurgen Locadia (released), Milos Pantovic (Union Berlin), Maxim Leitsch (Mainz), Armel Bella-Kotchap (Southampton), Sebastian Polter (Schalke)
    2021-22 finish: 13th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Kevin Stoger
    Will their manager last the season? No

    Last season, upon their return to the Bundesliga, Bochum scaled impressive heights. This season, it’s going to be difficult to match that trajectory.

    They’ve lost Bella-Kotchap to Southampton, they’ve lost Leitsch to Mainz — two of the best examples of progress for Bochum youth — Polter to Schalke and Pantovic has gone to Union, so they’re really going to have to piece things together. They are quite well bedded in, though, and they have a good coach in Thomas Reis.

    This will be a battle against the drop for Bochum. They’ll do well to avoid finishing in the bottom two places.

    Predicted finish: 18th

    Borussia Dortmund

    Transfers in: Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich), Nico Schlotterbeck (Freiburg), Karim Adeyemi (FC Salzburg), Salih Ozcan (Cologne), Sebastien Haller (West Ham United)
    Transfers out: Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Dan-Axel Zagadou (released), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Roman Burki (St. Louis City FC), Steffen Tigges (Cologne)
    2021-22 finish: 2nd
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Jude Bellingham
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    This feels like 2019 in Dortmund. Three years ago, after a seemingly impressive summer of transfer business, we all wondered if the Schwarzgelben were ready to apply pressure to Bayern. They actually made a very good fist of it early on, before falling away.

    Give credit to new sporting CEO Sebastian Kehl, who has addressed most of the club’s needs. The defence has had a glass jaw for too long, but the signings of Schlotterbeck from Freiburg and Sule from Bayern fall in the genuinely exciting category. No longer is there a need for Mats Hummels to take on the world while it all falls apart around him. Hummels may not even start regularly depending on the formation.



    Kasey Keller and Sebastian Salazar debate Borussia Dortmund’s expectations for Gio Reyna.

    Adeyemi, while not Haaland in style or yet substance, has a dynamic quality that will endear him to the BVB faithful. Haller sadly must first focus on his recovery after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his testicle, and everyone in German football wishes him well.

    Edin Terzic returns for his second spell as coach, this time on a permanent basis, and it just feels right. I still worry a bit about the full-back or wing-back positions. Raphael Guerreiro, in particular, suffered an unanticipated downturn last term.

    United States international Giovanni Reyna will be an important part of the plans once healthy again, but Dortmund won’t rush him. Bellingham meanwhile has been installed as “third captain,” which tells you everything about the Englishman’s pervasive influence at just 19.

    Predicted finish: 3rd

    Transfers in: Oscar Fraulo (FC Midtjylland), Ko Itakura (Manchester City)
    Transfers out: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Breel Embolo (AS Monaco)
    2021-22 finish: 10th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Lars Stindl
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    There is considerable change afoot in North Rhine-Westphalia, and it’s best exemplified in the dugout. In has come Daniel Farke, formerly of Norwich City, who will emphasise possession football, which is a seismic shift in philosophy from the direction the club had been heading the past three years under first Marco Rose and then Adi Hutter. Adapting to Farke’s principles will not be something accomplished overnight.

    On the pitch, gone are Ginter and Embolo, two pillars of the club in recent seasons. The club have managed to keep hold of Yann Sommer, though, and persuading the goalkeeper to stay put is the kind of stability that will be invaluable as Gladbach chart this new course under Farke.

    From an American perspective, Joe Scally isn’t likely to start regularly, but he looks to be first reserve at right-back and right-wing-back, so he’s going to have to remain patient and wait for his opportunities. That’s something of a change from last season, when he made 33 appearances with first choice Stefan Lainer missing considerable time with an ankle fracture.

    Predicted finish: 12th

    Transfers in: Luca Kilian (Mainz), Steffen Tigges (Borussia Dortmund), Sargis Adamyan (Hoffenheim)
    Transfers out: Salih Ozcan (Borussia Dortmund)
    2021-22 finish: 7th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Anthony Modeste
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Cologne, as a city, lives on emotion and a perpetual sense of dreaming more than just about anywhere else in Germany. They found the ideal coach for Effzeh last season, and Steffen Baumgart got his players to go the extra mile. One of the most memorable images was Jan Thielmann‘s lung-bursting run back and subsequent tackle inside the box on Reyna against Dortmund. It was celebrated rather like a goal.

    Cologne, despite a looming Europa Conference League campaign, have had to be modest in their acquisitions out of financial necessity. Tigges and Adamyan are low(ish)-cost additions who could look good in the right environment.

    Being dumped out of the DFB-Pokal on Saturday by Jahn Regensburg, leaders of the 2. Bundesliga in the early days of the 2022-23 campaign, illustrates how tall of a task Cologne face this season.

    Predicted finish: 9th

    Transfers in: Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Faride Alidou (Hamburg), Buta (Royal Antwerp), Mario Gotze (PSV Eindhoven), Jens Hauge (Milan), Kristijan Jakic (Dinamo Zagreb), Randal Kolo Muani (Nantes), Jerome Onguene (FC Salzburg), Hrvoje Smolcic (Rijeka)
    Transfers out: Aymen Barkok (Mainz), Danny da Costa (Mainz), Stefan Ilsanker (Genoa), Dominik Kohr (Mainz), Martin Pecar (Austria Vienna), Rodrigo Zalazar (Schalke), Steven Zuber (AEK Athens)
    2021-22 finish: 11th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Kevin Trapp
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    There are some questions hovering over the Europa League winners. The biggest surrounds the future of 29-year-old winger Filip Kostic, who may or may not be with the club come the close of the transfer window. No one is quite certain whether he wants to stay or go; if he does depart, he will be very difficult to replace.

    With or without Kostic, I like the way they’ve retooled the squad, with Gotze in particular and also Muani from Nantes. Frankfurt had trouble against teams situated in a low block last season, particularly at home, and these additions will help combat those types of tactics.

    It’s going to be difficult for Die Adler with the burden of Champions League football this season — it may not necessarily be a burden, but it will be a challenge — but I think the prospects are good. I expect them to be in the upper echelon of teams in 2022-23.

    Predicted finish: 6th

    Transfers in: Matthias Ginter (free agent), Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (St. Pauli), Ritsu Doan (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg)
    Transfers out: Janik Haberer (Union Berlin), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Ermedin Demirovic (Augsburg)
    2021-22 finish: 6th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Vincenzo Grifo
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Most are familiar with Freiburg manager Christian Streich, but how many have heard of Jochen Saier and Klemens Hartenbach? Well, they are every bit as important to the incredible against-the-odds success story of the likeable Breisgau club. Saier and Hartenbach make all the key off-the-pitch decisions, and what a productive summer it has been for the Pokal runners-up. To be honest, I can’t quite believe it.

    First of all, Ginter has returned home, and securing such a seasoned defender cushions the blow of losing Schlotterbeck. The additions of Doan (a big success with Arminia Bielefeld a couple of seasons ago) and Kofi-Kyereh (12 goals for St. Pauli in the 2. Bundesliga last term) look right. Then what a coup it was to land Gregoritsch, without whom Augsburg would have struggled to stay up.

    The old guard remains on board, too: Christian Gunter, Grifo with his special deliveries, Nicolas Hofler. Expect Freiburg to fly into the 2022-23 season.

    Predicted finish: 5th

    Transfers in: Filip Uremovic (Rubin Kazan), Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), Wilfried Kanga (Young Boys)
    Transfers out: Niklas Stark (Werder Bremen), Arne Maier (Augsburg), Jordan Torunarigha (KAA Gent)
    2021-22 finish: 16th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Oliver Christensen
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    I got to cover the Hertha story up close, commentating on the relegation playoff final against Hamburg, in Hamburg, and they did it. That’s the main thing, and it means they can be somewhat confident coming into this campaign knowing that when the chips were down, they delivered.

    They have a new coach in Sandro Schwarz after Felix Magath kept them in the division by means of the playoff, and Schwarz will have his fingerprints on this team. There will be lots of running, defending from the front and trying to play courageous football.

    They do have a big plus in the set-piece deliveries provided by Marvin Plattenhardt, and that’s something they can build on once again. I like their goalkeeper, the 23-year-old Christensen, who’s going to get his chance from the outset. And I think Kenny will be a good addition at right-back. The search for an effective striker goes on, though, and you get the feeling that this squad-building exercise by sporting director Fredi Bobic will go right down to the wire.

    I think Hertha will be more comfortable this season. The leadership displayed by Dedryck Boyata in the relegation playoff helped salvage last season, and that sort of quality will go a long way this term, too.

    Predicted finish: 13th

    Transfers in: Ozan Kabak (Schalke), Grischa Promel (Union Berlin)
    Transfers out: Mijat Gacinovic (AEK Athens), Joao Klauss (St. Louis City FC), Sargis Adamyan (Cologne), Kostas Stafylidis (Bochum), David Raum (RB Leipzig)
    2021-22 finish: 9th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Andrej Kramaric
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    The Kraichgau region is famously calm but Hoffenheim’s chaotic ending to last season still takes some believing. Frankly, given their squad strength, they should be in Europe and not without good cause was coach Sebastian Hoeness relieved of his duties. Former Schalke and Hannover boss Andre Breitenreiter returns to the Bundesliga after a title-winning stop in Switzerland with Zurich as his successor.

    Hoffenheim have been something of a talent factory in recent times, and expect to lose promising players such as Raum. But with Kramaric and the impressive Georginio Rutter leading the attack, look for a much more consistent showing and a push for the top six.

    Predicted finish: 7th

    Transfers in: Angelo Fulgini (Angers), Maxim Leitsch (Bochum), Marcus Ingvartsen (Union Berlin), Delano Burgzorg (Heracles Almelo), Dominik Kohr (Eintracht Frankfurt), Anthony Caci (Strasbourg), Danny da Costa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt)
    Transfers out: Moussa Niakhate (Nottingham Forest), Jeremiah St. Juste (Sporting CP), Luca Kilian (Cologne), Kevin Stoger (free agent)
    2021-22 finish: 8th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Jonathan Burkardt
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Last season was perplexing for Mainz fans due to an odd disparity between home and away form. When you collect 35 points in front of your own public, you might expect European football, but a miserable 11 points on their travels meant the Rheinhessen side missed out on the prize.

    Mainz’s primary summer business has involved moving on from star defenders Niakhate and St. Juste for big money while losing Jean-Paul Boetius, whose contract was up. They’ve performed well to get a fine young defender in Leitsch, a poster boy for the Bochum youth system, but the real intrigue surrounds the injection of dynamism they hope to get from new attacking midfielder Fulgini. Mainz are already well set up in attack with the complementary partnership of Burkardt and Karim Onisiwo.

    Predicted finish: 10th

    Transfers in: Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg), Janis Blaswich (Heracles Almelo), David Raum (Hoffenheim)
    Transfers out: Tyler Adams (Leeds United), Brian Brobbey (Ajax), Nordi Mukiele (Paris Saint-Germain), Eric Martel (Cologne)
    2021-22 finish: 4th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Christopher Nkunku
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Much to the relief of everyone connected with Leipzig, they no longer need to hear from people like me that they’ve yet to win a major trophy. Domenico Tedesco’s side laid those ghosts to rest with a stirring fight-back in May to win the DFB-Pokal final on penalties against Freiburg and, they hope, lay down a marker for more success in years ahead.

    Tedesco wasn’t part of the original plan last summer, which saw Jesse Marsch installed with a mandate to rediscover Leipzig’s Gegenpressing roots. Quickly everyone — not least CEO Oliver Mintzlaff — realised that RBL had moved on to a more complete ball-possession style under Marsch’s predecessor, a certain Julian Nagelsmann. So after a torrid run of results by Leipzig’s standards, Marsch had to go and in came Tedesco to provide a more fitting tactical approach.

    Tedesco has managed to get the best out of the magnificent Nkunku, and Mintzlaff and his staff performed heroics to extend the Frenchman’s stay.

    The squad had worn a bloated look for a while and something really had to give in midfield. That someone ended up being Adams, who has been reunited with his mentor Marsch at Leeds United. Leipzig will consider the influx of €23 million including add-ons great business for a player who had become peripheral under Tedesco.

    By getting the driving Schlager from Wolfsburg for €12m, Leipzig have done well for themselves. The real coup, though, is the addition of Raum from Hoffenheim.

    Last summer’s signings were a mixture of hits and misses. A hit was the promising defender Mohamed Simakan, while Andre Silva often struggled in his first season. Behind Silva in the pecking order, Yussuf Poulsen‘s unfortunate abductor injury means perhaps a second chance for Alexander Sorloth as a backup striker.

    Predicted finish: 4th

    Schalke 04

    Transfers in: Thomas Ouwejan (AZ Alkmaar), Rodrigo Zalazar, Sebastian Polter (Bochum), Florent Mollet (Montpellier), Cedric Brunner (Arminia Bielefeld), Leo Greiml (Rapid Vienna), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
    Transfers out: Ozan Kabak (Hoffenheim), Rabbi Matondo (Rangers)
    2021-22 finish: 1st (2. Bundesliga)
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Maya Yoshida
    Will their manager last the season? No

    Schalke really are the great unknowns going into this campaign. I say that because the turnover of personnel has been immense.

    The appointment of manager Frank Kramer appears strange on its surface. He was the coach in charge of Bielefeld until the latter part of last season, when the club determined that he would be unable to keep them in the Bundesliga and made a change. That he’s been given the keys to Schalke, then, is a curious decision.

    They went into their training camp with 30 players, and that will need to be pared down, and it’s been a case of trying to move on players with considerable wages and recruit signees who fit within the new financial model a bit more. We’re really not going to know what they look like until the season begins, the first game away to Cologne.

    So, it will be a season of trying to consolidate and making sure they don’t go down again, because their last Bundesliga campaign in 2020-21 was a catastrophe. Schalke will need overtime to stay up, but they might just do it.

    Predicted finish: 15th

    Transfers in: Josha Vagnoman (Hamburg), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Arsenal), Juan Jose Perea
    Transfers out: Pablo Maffeo (Mallorca), Philipp Forster (Bochum), Orel Mangala (Nottingham Forest)
    2021-22 finish: 15th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Konstantinos Mavropanos
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    The travails of Pellegrino Matarazzo and Stuttgart last season were unexpected. I thought they would finish much higher than they did, but they showed spirit at the end of the campaign to get themselves out of a close shave — they were very nearly in the relegation playoff.

    This season, sporting director Sven Mislintat has already shipped out Mangala to Nottingham Forest; will he find new homes for Borna Sosa and Sasa Kalajdzic? You would have thought that a few months ago, but the market doesn’t appear to be right for either at the moment — that can change, of course. And one is stronger with the other, Kalajdzic applying the finish to Sosa’s deliveries.

    Ultimately, Matarazzo has summed it up: they need early points on the board, something they didn’t get last term. If they can do that, I think they can, and should, avoid relegation comfortably this time round.

    Predicted finish: 14th

    Transfers in: Jordan Pefok (Young Boys), Jamie Leweling (Greuther Furth), Morten Thorsby (Sampdoria), Danilho Doekhi (Vitesse Arnhem), Janik Haberer (Freiburg), Paul Seguin (Greuther Furth), Milos Pantovic (Bochum), Tim Skarke (Darmstadt)
    Transfers out: Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest), Marcus Ingvartsen (Mainz), Grischa Promel (Hoffenheim)
    2021-22 finish: 5th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Worse
    Key player: Sheraldo Becker
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    I must confess that Union keep confounding me. Last summer, I predicted a challenging campaign for them based on an onerous fixture list including a tilt at European football. Then, when a sag after Christmas looked likely following the departure of Max Kruse to Wolfsburg, the Unioner still managed to find a way to strike gold. The fact is that sporting director Oliver Ruhnert is one of the best in the game and Union couldn’t ask for a more fitting coach than the earthy Urs Fischer.

    Fifth place probably represents the height of Union’s ambitions given the strength of last term’s top four, but can that be repeated if Ruhnert keeps signing gems? He has turned to free agents like Doekhi, Haberer, Pantovic and Skarke to make the squad more versatile.

    The key acquisition, though, is that of U.S. striker Pefok. (There has been considerable back and forth over the player’s name in recent years, but “Jordan Siebatcheu” is how the 26-year-old has chosen to refer to himself in the German-speaking world.) The pressure will be on immediately as Siebatcheu must fill the boots of Awoniyi, who joined Nottingham Forest in the summer.

    Predicted finish: 11th

    Werder Bremen

    Transfers in: Jens Stage (FC Copenhagen), Niklas Stark (Hertha Berlin), Oliver Burke (Sheffield United), Mitchell Weiser (Bayer Leverkusen)
    Transfers out: Maik Nawrocki (Legia Warsaw), Jan-Niklas Beste (Heidenheim), Omer Toprak (free agent)
    2021-22 finish: 2nd (2. Bundesliga)
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Niklas Stark
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Werder Bremen’s first priority will be to stay up. To their credit, they only stayed in the 2. Bundesliga for one term, but that one campaign ruined a 40-year streak in Germany’s first division.

    In Ole Werner, they have a good coach who believes in fundamentals, primarily lining up his team in a 3-5-2 formation. It’s not going to be a team chock full of stars — although Niclas Fullkrug does have that quality in him — but mostly this side will be about the collective.

    The 2022-23 season looks to be an uphill struggle for Bremen, but one they can take on. I see them staying in the Bundesliga.

    Predicted finish: 16th

    Transfers in: Jakub Kaminski (Lech Poznan), Mattias Svanberg (Bologna), Bartol Franjic (Dinamo Zagreb), Patrick Wimmer (Arminia Bielefeld)
    Transfers out: Xaver Schlager, Kevin Mbabu (Fulham), Elvis Rexhbecaj (Augsburg), John Brooks (free agent)
    2021-22 finish: 12th
    Will they be better or worse this year? Better
    Key player: Maximilian Arnold
    Will their manager last the season? Yes

    Wolfsburg, quite simply, should be better than they were last season. Nico Kovac has come in to take over from Florian Kohfeldt, who underachieved last term after a wonderful start but was never able to get his team to hit the required heights on a consistent basis.

    Kovac wants his team to play a higher line, to put opponents under more pressure, to be less reactive, to add a bit of an edge, and I think they’ll do that with additions such as Wimmer from Arminia Bielefeld. It stands to reason that with the squad they have, then, that Wolfsburg should be in the top half and pushing for Europe.

    Predicted finish: 8th

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