The World Cup has come to an end and Spain took the title for the first time. The players are headed back to their club teams and preparation for the 2010/11 club seasons is starting. We will take a look at the top European leagues and the odds to win the championships.
With all European soccer leagues starting their seasons in August, here is a look at the futures for the German Bundesliga:
FC Kaiserslautern and FC St. Pauli were promoted into the 1. Bundesliga – the top tier in Germany – after finishing first and second in the 2. Bundesliga last season. Hertha BSC Berlin and VfL Bochum were relegated into the 2. Bundesliga after finishing 17th and 18th in the 1. Bundesliga. Nuremberg retained a spot in the top league by beating out Augsburg in a playoff.
Bayern Munich is the defending champion and they are – as almost every year – the team to beat. Manager Louis van Gaal did a great job with the side last year and almost led the squad to a treble. They did win the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup for the double, but lost to Internazionale in the Champions League Final.
Bayern has a young squad and has several players on the roster that played well at the World Cup. France’s Franck Ribery is looking to bounce back from a 2009/10 season in which he struggled with injuries and wasn’t able to play at his full potential.
Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben will once again try to spark the offense with his strong passing and his goal scoring skills. Young German attacker Thomas Mueller had a breakout tournament in South Africa and should be good for several goals and assists in the upcoming season.
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger played a strong World Cup as well and can help in the attack as well as the defense. Defender Philipp Lahm was Germany’s captain in South Africa and will once again be a key piece in Bayerns back row along with Argentinean national player Martin Demichelis.
The attack is dangerous with Mueller, Ivica Olic, and Miroslav Klose, who came close to tying Ronaldo’s record for most career goals at the World Cup. The team is deep and has replacements ready to step in should players from the starting XI get injured.
The one problem with Bayern? The price. They run at 1/2 at bodog, a very high-risk low-reward situation.
Schalke 04 is worth a look, as manager Felix Magath is known to lead teams to titles. He led Bayern to the Bundesliga championship in 2005 and 2006 and won the league with Wolfsburg in 2009. Wolfsburg dropped to eighth last season under new coach Armin Veh and his replacement Lorenz-Guenther Koestner, who took over in January.
Schalke, on the other hand, improved from an eight place finish in 2008 to runner-up last year after Magath took over. The squad gave Bayern a tough fight last season, but ended up five points out of first place.
They have to replace striker Kevin Kuranyi, who scored 18 goals last season, but was snubbed in the selection for the national team. They have a deep rotation of attackers and should be able to cushion the blow of losing Kuranyi.
Schalke added center back Christoph Metzelder to the team, who played in 126 Bundesliga games for Schalke’s archrival Borussia Dortmund from 2000 to 2007, but got very little playing time in his three year stint with Real Madrid.
Bodog offers Schalke at 8/1, considerably better value than Bayern. Schalke has a legitimate shot at the title and is a better selection than Bayern based on price.
Bayer Leverkusen is an interesting pick at 16/1 as well. Michael Ballack, arguably Germany’s best midfielder, returns to the team on which he had played himself into the spotlight of German soccer.
Ballack spent the five years with Bayern Munich, scoring 44 goals, and played for Chelsea in the English Premier League for the last five years. His contract with Chelsea was not renewed after the last season, but Leverkusen picked him up happily.
The 34-year-old would have been captain of the German squad at the World Cup, if not for an injury suffered in the English FA Cup. He isn’t as much of a force on the field as he used to be, but he is still a leader that will help a young Bayer midfield.
Striker Stefan Kiessling scored the second-most goals in the Bundesliga last year (21), and will be a dangerous option in Leverkusen’s attack again.
Pinnacle is also offering German Bundesliga Future Odds in addtion to some total season point props and head to head matchups as to which team will finish higher.