Bundesliga Preview: Bayern defence starts with tough tie
By Football News
Bayern Munich's defence of their Bundesliga crown begins against one of just five teams who denied them league points last term.
Borussia Monchengladbach are the visitors to the Allianz Arena on Friday, and will hope to emulate the performance that saw them grab a hard-earned 1-1 draw there last time around.
But, after Pep Guardiola suffered defeat in the DFL-Supercup in his first competitive fixture in charge, he will surely be keen for his troops to send out a message in a difficult opening game.
A good start is made all the more important for Bayern by the fact that their likely title rivals, Borussia Dortmund, face a decidedly easier-looking trip to Augsburg on Saturday.
Bayer Leverkusen will also hope to improve on last season's third-placed finish to challenge Bayern, but host a Freiburg team who narrowly missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification in their final game.
The standout match of the opening round arguably comes on Sunday, when Schalke take on Hamburg in a fixture which saw nine goals in total last term.
Elsewhere, Hoffenheim will simply be glad to take part in another Bundesliga season when they face Nuremberg, having avoided relegation courtesy of victory in a play-off in 2012-13.
Their survival meant that just two teams jumped into the German top flight ahead of the new season: Eintracht Braunschweig and Hertha Berlin.
Braunschweig's first Bundesliga campaign in 29 years begins with a home meeting with a Werder Bremen side who will hope to do better than their disappointing finish of 14th under the guidance of new manager Robin Dutt.
Meanwhile, Hertha face an Eintracht Frankfurt outfit that must juggle their domestic commitments with a jaunt into the UEFA Europa League this year.
Hannover and Wolfsburg will surely view their opening-day encounter as a good measure of the progress made during the close-season, with the teams having been separated by just two points last season.
And it is the same story for Mainz and Stuttgart, who go head to head after being separated by just one place and one point in 2012-13.