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Bundesliga returns with Harry Kane looking to lead Bayern Munich to 12th consecutive title

Bundesliga returns with Harry Kane looking to power Bayern Munich to 12th straight title; can Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig or Bayer Leverkusen stop them? Watch Harry Kane's Bayern take on Werder Bremen on Friday, live on Sky Sports Action from 7.15pm; kick-off 7.30pm

Sky Sports Bundesliga preview

Sky Sports' writers highlight six teams and players to watch as the Bundesliga returns, with four matches live on Sky Sports across the opening weekend...

Kane gain but Bayern face 'keeper conundrum

Bayern Munich kicked off their season with a resounding German Super Cup defeat against RB Leipzig last Saturday, and have no first-choice goalkeeper as a search in the transfer market has yet to yield any results.

The German champions called on 35-year-old Sven Ulreich - who at times was the club's third choice last term - against Leipzig, and the outcome was a 3-0 defeat to dampen the mood following the capture of Harry Kane.

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With starting 'keeper Manuel Neuer set to miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from a broken leg, Alexander Nubel having gone to Stuttgart and Yann Sommer now with Inter Milan, the Bavarians find themselves with no other options.

Neuer, who suffered his injury during a skiing holiday in December, underwent another surgery last month to remove metal parts from his leg that had been put in during his initial operation.

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Harry Kane speaks exclusively to Sky Sports and outlines his reasons for making the move to Germany, his aims and how he is adjusting to life in Munich

Bayern have said his recovery "is on track" but have not set a date for his return and there is no doubt that Neuer will miss several weeks, if not more, of the new campaign.

The summer window was viewed in Munich as a chance to reinforce the team's frontline to become a contender again for the Champions League - but the goalkeeper position is one Bayern are now desperate to fill.
Ben Grounds

Also See:

Watch the Bundesliga live with Sky Sports this weekend!

Enjoy live action from the Bundesliga and more

Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich – August 18, kick-off 7.30pm - LIVE on Sky Sports Action
Borussia Dortmund vs Cologne – August 19, kick-off 5.30pm - LIVE on Sky Sports Football
Union Berlin vs Mainz – August 20, kick-off 2.30pm - LIVE on Sky Sports Football
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Darmstadt – August 20, kick-off 4.30pm - LIVE on Sky Sports Football

Can Dortmund conquer their demons?

The scenes that greeted Borussia Dortmund's failure to capture the Bundesliga title on the final day of last season will linger long in the memory. Needing only victory at home to Mainz to become champions for the first time in 11 years, it all went horribly wrong.

An early goal conceded and a penalty wasted. Two down before half-time, there was even the false hope of Bayern being pegged back in Cologne. They won, Dortmund did not. Just one goal in either game would have been enough. A perfect storm of agony.

Bundesliga, Matchday 34, Borussia Dortmund - FSV Mainz 05, Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund coach Edin Terzic walks across the pitch after the match.
Image: Edin Terzic struggles to contain his emotions as Borussia Dortmund miss the chance to win the 2022/23 title

As players and staff lined up in supplication to the famed Yellow Wall of supporters, head coach Edin Terzic appeared distraught. His team, he pointed out, had been 90 minutes away from their goal. Now, they find themselves 34 matches away from glory once more.

The challenge is to go again - without Jude Bellingham. It would be easy to think Dortmund blew their best chance but there is another way of seeing it. Pre-season has gone well and Bayern did not beat them, Dortmund beat themselves. Can they conquer their demons?
Adam Bate

Union Berlin's hipsters get a taste of the mainstream

Union Berlin drew 3-3 with Union Saint-Gilloise in their Europa League first-leg tie
Image: Union Berlin will be in the Champions League this season

Union Berlin's continental cult following was secured as they snuck into the Bundesliga's final Champions League spot last season, pitting themselves against the might of Europe's biggest clubs for the first time - and only four years after their promotion to the top flight.

It marked the latest, grandest chapter in a rise which has seen the Iron Ones grow their self-styled 'hipster' following all the way from Germany's fourth tier to become the capital's only Bundesliga side - and now as they pull up a seat at the high table of continental competition.

This is a club whose Wikipedia includes Robert Huth and Nottingham Forest's Taiwo Awoniyi on a notably short list of best-known former players. During the Soviet Era, Union weren't even the biggest side in East Berlin, missing out on promising youth players and infrastructure developments to their politically connected rivals Berliner FC Dynamo.

They are used to playing the role of the underdog, a mindset which has ingrained a special connection between the club and its fans, and more recently forged Union's wider appeal outside of the capital.

Amid money troubles in 2004, fans literally bled for the club, with the proceeds from blood bank donations used to finance that season's professional league licence. At midnight of the club's 50th birthday in 2016, supporters gathered inside the stadium to let off flares and a grand firework display in a celebration which lit up the surrounding area.

There are bright red Union Berlin minibuses and, for some reason, a Union Berlin boat.

These are the sort of unique quirks which have enamoured fans who remember football as it used to be to this small, working-class club in East Berlin - and which will only bring more on board as they look to rack up a scalp or two on their maiden Champions League voyage.
Ron Walker

What to watch on Sky Sports this week

Enjoy live action from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and more

Leeds v West Brom – August 18 - LIVE on Sky Sports Football
Plymouth v Southampton – August 19 - LIVE on Sky Sports Football
Tottenham v Man Utd – August 19 - LIVE on Sky Sports Premier League
Norwich v Millwall – August 20 - LIVE on Sky Sports Football
Aston Villa v Everton – August 20 - LIVE on Sky Sports Premier League
West Ham v Chelsea – August 20 - LIVE on Sky Sports Premier League
The Hundred – August 1 to 27 – LIVE on Sky Sports Cricket
BMW Championship – August 17 to 20 – LIVE on Sky Sports Golf

Alonso's Leverkusen to be surprise package?

Bayern Munich's closest challengers for the Bundesliga title may not come from either Borussia Dortmund or RB Leipzig, but Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen.

The former Liverpool midfielder takes charge of his first full season at the club after making an impressive impact since arriving last October.

Leverkusen's head coach Xabi Alonso attends a friendly soccer match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and West Ham United in Leverkusen, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. (Roberto Pfeil/dpa via AP)
Image: Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso has been in charge since October 2022

The Spaniard led Leverkusen from second-bottom to a sixth-placed finish, while they narrowly missed out on the Europa League final after a semi-final defeat to Jose Mourinho's Roma.

Alonso may have lost last season's top scorer Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa but there is real optimism that summer signing Victor Boniface can make up for the loss of the flying Frenchman.

The Nigerian striker was the joint-top scorer in last season's Europa League for Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and the early signs in pre-season - especially after an impressive display against West Ham - are that he can fill Diaby's boots.

jubilation Victor BONIFACE (LEV) with Florian WIRTZ l. (LEV) Soccer test match, Bayer 04 Leverkusen (LEV) - West Ham United (WHU), on August 5th, 2023 in Leverkusen Germany. Photo by: Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Image: Leverkusen signed Victor Boniface from Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise this summer

Aged 22, Boniface is yet another exciting young talent at Alonso's disposal, with 20-year-old Florian Wirtz the pick of the bunch. The German attacking midfielder was named the Europa League's best young player last season and he will be the creative hub of this vibrant Leverkusen side.

Alonso has used this summer to blend youth with experience following the arrivals of Granit Xhaka, Jonas Hoffman and Alejandro Grimaldo.

Ex-Arsenal midfielder Xhaka in particular brings leadership to a team that could well be the surprise package in the Bundesliga this season.
Declan Olley

Wolfsburg need Nmecha firing

Lukas Nmecha of VfL Wolfsburg looks on during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt at Volkswagen Arena on March 5, 2023 in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Image: Can Lukas Nmecha spearhead Wolfsburg's challenge this season?

Wolfsburg missed out on European football last season by losing at home to already-relegated Hertha Berlin. It was a disappointment that would surely have been avoided if their centre-forward, Germany international Lukas Nmecha, had been available.

The former Manchester City player has kicked on since leaving English football, impressing under Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht before forcing himself into the Germany national team following his permanent transfer to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2021.

"I think I am still in the process of adding that next step," he told Sky Sports. "I have been held back for two years now by two quite big injuries.

"In the first season, we had a lot of different managers. Now, we have a stable core. I hope this is the year that I push on and go to the next level."

Former Bayern boss Niko Kovac has brought clarity. "We know pretty much everything that he wants from us," says Nmecha.

The challenge will be to keep the best players fit. Sadly, Nmecha has already been ruled out of the season opener against Heidenheim.
Adam Bate

Leipzig still thriving despite sales

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The best of the action from the DFL-Supercup match between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig in which Harry Kane made his debut for his new club

RB Leipzig's spectacular win over Bayern in the Supercup was a reminder that, while the team that finished third in last season's Bundesliga have lost some of their best players, the philosophy of the club should ensure continuity. They are not going away.

Josko Gvardiol, Christopher Nkunku and Dominik Szoboszlai have all left for the Premier League but Lois Openda has arrived. Nicolas Seiwald and Benjamin Sesko have been signed from Salzburg. Talented duo Xavi Simons and Fabio Carvalho have come in on loan.

The problem with a high turnover of players is that it can take time to find that chemistry in the team but the profile of a Leipzig target is well established. Young and hungry players with pace to burn and an appetite to press the opposition; these are non-negotiables.

With Dani Olmo now the undoubted star of the show, the Supercup win - a third trophy in 15 months - could be the springboard for more success. If Bayern and Dortmund are unable to find their top form this season, expect Leipzig to take advantage - and to excite.
Adam Bate

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