Borussia Dortmund starts its Bundesliga campaign at home to Cologne on Saturday, hoping to take the first step in putting the bitter disappointment of last season behind them.
Needing a win for its title in over a decade in the season’s final game, Dortmund drew 2-2 at home against mid-table Mainz.
The draw allowed Bayern Munich, who won 2-1 in Cologne thanks to a last-minute Jamal Musiala goal, to sneak past and win the title on goal difference, its 11th consecutive league victory.
For Dortmund to go one better this season, it needs to not only overcome its final day demons but also the loss of its best player in the summer.
Jude Bellingham moved to Real Madrid in June, with Dortmund having lost Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho in previous off-seasons.
Title favourite Bayern has however strengthened, breaking the 100 million euro ($109 million) mark for the first time to bring in England captain Harry Kane, plugging the Robert Lewandowski-shaped hole in its forward line in the process.
“Although we were close, we’re not done yet. On Saturday, we want to pick up where we left off,” said “ manager Edin Terzic.
Hit by injury early last season, Dortmund lost only one of its final 19 league matches to close a nine-point gap with Bayern.
Terzic said the side, who added midfielders Marcel Sabitzer, Felix Nmecha and wing-back Ramy Bensebaini, had strengthened enough for a title fight.
“I’m very happy with the quality of the team and the quality of the newcomers. We’re sure we’re in a very good position to achieve our goals” Terzic said, explaining the team needs to keep up the “hard work”.
“(Then) it might taste really sweet in the end and then we can finally bring the shield to Dortmund.”
Bayern kickstarts the season away at Werder Bremen on Friday. Bremen has not beaten Bayern since 2008, when Mesut Ozil, Claudio Pizarro and Per Mertesacker lined up in white and green, a stunning 31 games ago.
Kane is in line to make his starting debut “unless something extraordinary happens” coach Thomas Tuchel said on Thursday.
Despite the high-profile addition, doubts remain for Bayern this season, particularly after Saturday’s 3-0 Supercup drubbing at home at the hands of RB Leipzig.
Tuchel said as much on Thursday, saying his side had not yet found the solution but promised they were not far off.
“We haven’t found the key to crack the lock yet, but we’ll find it. We’ve got a couple more keys on the keyring.”
The two other major hopes for this year’s title, Bayern Leverkusen and Leipzig, clash on Saturday, with both having strengthened across the summer.
One to watch: Robin Gosens (Union Berlin)
On Tuesday, Union Berlin signed Germany defender Robin Gosens from Inter Milan, another sign of the capital club’s new lofty standing in the game.
Gosens, 29, joins Union having played his entire professional career outside his homeland, despite representing Germany 16 times, scoring twice.
The left-back has played 28 times in the Champions League, including in last season’s final, valuable experience as Union embarks on its maiden campaign in the competition.
5 - Werder Bremen was the worst home team in the Bundesliga last season, winning just five of 17 home games.
14 - Borussia Dortmund was the strongest Bundesliga home team in 2022-23, winning 14 from 17 games.
0 - Promoted Heidenheim has never before played in the top division. Fellow climbers Darmstadt have played four seasons in total in the top grade.
Fixtures (all times 13:30 GMT unless otherwise indicated)
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