Top six Bundesliga guide

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BERLIN, August 19 – Guide to the top six Bundesliga clubs for the new season which starts on Friday:BAYERN MUNICH

Last season: Bundesliga champions, German Cup winners, Champions League finalists

In: Alaba (from youth academy), Braafheid (returned from loan to Celtic), Breno, Andreas Ottl (returned from loan at Nuremberg), Kroos (returned from loan at Bayer Leverkusen), Sattelmaier (free transfer from Jahn Regensberg), Sosa (returned from loan at Estudiantes de La Plata)

Out: Ekici (loaned to Nuremberg), Lell (free transfer to Hertha Berlin), Neidermeier (3.5 million transfer to Stuttgart), Luca Toni (Genua), Goerlitz, Rensing.

Outlook: The question this season is, who can stop the march of Bayern Munich to their 23rd German league title? With the likes of youngsters Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Holger Badstuber back from a successful World Cup campaign, Bayern will be hard to beat this season. With the experience of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Mark van Bommel, only a brave fan would bet against Bayern.

SCHALKE 04

Last season: Bundesliga runners-up

In: Grossmueller (back from loan spell at Danubio FC), Hoogland (free transfer from Mainz), Jendrisek (free transfer from Kaiserslautern), Matip (from youth academy), Metzelder (free transfer from Real Madrid), Papadopoulos (2 million euros transfer from Olympiakos), Pourie (returned from loan at TuS Koblenz), Uchida (1.3 million euros transfer from Kashima Antlers), Unnerstall (Schalke 04 II), Raul (8 million euros transfer from Real Madrid).

Out: Amisf (free transfer to Augsburg), Asamoah (free transfer to St Pauli), Bordon (free transfer to Al-Rayyan), Holtby (loaned to Mainz 05), Kuranyi (free transfer to Dynamo Moscow), Latza (to Schalke 04 reserves), Moravek (loaned to Kaiserslautern), Sanchez (free transfer to CF America), Westermann (7.5 million euros transfer to Hamburg), Yalin (free transfer to Goztepe Izmir), Zambrano (loaned to St Pauli), Ze Roberto (free transfer to Vasco da Gama)

Outlook: Schalke have been boosted by Real Madrid striker Raul, former Germany centre-back Christoph Metzelder and Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Felix Magath has won the Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg and will not want to be denied another German league title by the men from Munich.

WERDER BREMEN

Last season: Third

In: Arnautovic (6.5 million transfer from Inter Milan), Kroos (150,000 euros from Hansa Rostock), Schindler (return from loan at Duisburg), Thy, Trinks (both from youth academy), Vranjies (back from loan at Genclebirligi), Wiedwald (from Werder Bremen reserves).

Out: Abdennour (transfer to ES Sahel Sousse), Artmann (to Werder Bremen reserves), Carlos Alberto (free transfer to Vasco da Gama), Futacs (loaned to FC Ingolstadt), Harnik (300,000 euros transfer to VfB Stuttgart), Oehrl (free transfer to Augsburg), Ozil (18 million euros transfer to Real Madrid).

Outlook: The loss of Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid will affect Bremen’s attacking prowess, but they still have winger Marko Marin, who will be a star of the future for Germany. Under captain Torsten Frings, Bremen will not be push overs, but it remains to be seen whether they will still be in contention come next May.

BAYER LEVERKUSEN

Last season: Fourth

In: Balitsch (free transfer from Hanover), Ballack (free transfer from Chelsea), Joergensen (750,000 euros transfer from Akademisk BK), Kampl (from Leverkusen’s reserves), Pamic (500,000 euros transfer from NK Karlovac), Petsos (from youth academy), Risse (back from loan at Nuremberg), Sam (2.2 million euros transfer Hamburg), Vida (2.5 million euros transfer from NK Osijek).

Out: Dum (free transfer to Fortuna Duesseldorf), Gekas (one million euros transfer to Eintracht Frankfurt), Hegeler (free transfer to Nuremberg), Pamic (free transfer to Freiburg), Sinkiewicz (free transfer to Augsburg), Zdebel (free transfer to Aachen.

Outlook: Bayer have never been German champions, but with Ballack back in the midfield they will have the steel which they missed last year when their title challenge folded in the last few weeks.

STUTTGART

Last season: Sixth

In: Elson (returned from loan at Hanover), Gentner (free transfer from Wolfsburg), Harnik (300,000 euros transfer from Werder Bremen), Molinaro (3.8 million euros transfer from Juventus), Niedermeier (3.5 million euros transfer from Bayern Munich), Walch (from Stuttgart reserves), Ziegler (300,000 euros transfer from Borussia Dortmund).

Out: Hilbert (free transfer to Besiktas), Hleb (returned to Barcelona after loan), Lanig (750,000 euros transfer to Cologne), Mandjeck (1.2 million euros transfer to Rennes), Osorio (free transfer to CF Monterrey), Reidle, Schwawrz (both to Stuttgart reserves), Schieber (loaned to Nuremberg), Lehmann (retired).

Outlook: The sale of Sami Khedira to Real Madrid robs Stuttgart of some power in midfield, but coach Christian Gross will forge his side into a competitive unit. Stuttgart went from the verge of relegation to challenge for a European place last season and Gross proved his credentials as a top-level coach.

HAMBURG

Last season: Seventh

In: Ben-Hatira (returned from loan at Duisburg), Choupo-Moting, Tavares (both back from loan at Nuremberg), Diekmeier (2.5 million euros transfer from Nuremberg), Drobny (free transfer from Hertha Berlin), Kacar (5.5 million euros transfer from Hertha Berlin), Son (from youth academy), Sowah (from Portsmouth on a free transfer), Westermann (7.5 million euros transfer from Schalke).

Out: Arslan (loaned to Aachen), Beister (loaned to Duesseldorf), Berg (loaned to PSV Eindhoven), Boateng (12.5 million euros transfer to Manchester City), Reinhardt, Schmidt (both retired), Sam (2.2 million euros transfer to Bayer Leverkusen), Schulz (loaned to Frankfurt).

Outlook: Hamburg dropped off the pace badly at the end of last season which led to the sacking of Bruno Labbadia as coach. His replacement Armin Veh has a point to prove after being sacked by both Stuttgart and Wolfsburg in recent years. Hamburg have too much talent in their squad not to challenge at the top of the table, but whether Veh can get the most out of talents like Ruud van Nistelrooy remains to be seen.

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