Bundesliga Season Preview | Soccer Betting Picks & Predictions
Christof Stache/Getty. Pictured: Timo Werner.
The Bundesliga season kicks off on Friday as Bayern Munich visit Werder Bremen with new striker Harry Kane set to start his first match for the German champions. The Bundesliga had the most competitive title race of Europe's top five leagues last year, as the race was decided in the final 15 minutes of the final match week. Jamal Musiala's late goal pushed Bayern past Köln, 2-1, and Borussia Dortmund dropped points at home against Mainz to cost Dortmund in stunning fashion.
Bayern had relatively mediocre form given their standards once they fired Julian Nagelsmann and hired Thomas Tuchel to replace him. Bayern enter the new season with -375 odds to win the title. Dortmund are the second-favorite at +500 and RB Leipzig are third at +1200.
There was a lot of turnover in the chasing pack of Leipzig, Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, but I think the market is wrong on the gap between Leipzig and Dortmund for likely runner up behind Bayern.
Bundesliga Season Preview
Winner Without Bayern Munich: RB Leipzig (+350 via BetMGM)
Leipzig were one of the top five or six teams in Europe based on underlying numbers in the second half of last season. They had an embarrassing 7-0 defeat in the second leg of the Champions League at Manchester City, but Leipzig also torched both Bayern and Dortmund in head-to-head matches in the final two months of the season. Marco Rose's side crushed Dortmund in a cup match at home and then beat Bayern 3-1 in Munich to open the door for Dortmund to claim the title.
Dortmund did win the league match between the two sides in the second half of the season, but only after a fluke penalty and a goal-line clearance both went the way of Dortmund. The xG and field tilt clearly suggested Leipzig to be the better team.
Both teams will need to replace two of their best players in 2023-24. Dortmund lost Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerriero to Real Madrid and Bayern in the offseason. Bellingham was the team's best ball carrier and ball winner in midfield, which is especially important because the Blacks and Yellows didn't have much defensive solidity in the middle of the park last season.
Guerriero had the fourth-most passes completed into the penalty area in the entire Bundesliga last season, and he and Bellingham were first and second in progressive passing value added for Dortmund. Felix Nmecha was the main addition in central midfield and Ramy Bensebaini is the natural Guerriero replacement at left back. Both are decent downgrades and Edin Terzic's wide open system is further at risk without Bellingham in the middle now.
Dortmund should get more production from a fully fit Sebastien Haller and the goals will still come a plenty given the attacking talent. However, the defensive issues could be further exposed without Bellingham.
Leipzig lost both Christopher Nkunku (Bundesliga Golden Boot winner) and top defender Josko Gvardiol in the offseason. Unlike Dortmund, the Leipzig scouting and transfer department may have found the proper replacements. Leipzig added Xavi Simons from PSV Eindhoven to fill the young midfield passing role left by the departure of Dominik Szoboszlai.
Lois Openda was the largest money summer signing for Leipzig and only Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi averaged more shots per 90 in Ligue 1 last year. He can fill the Nkunku role, as can the addition of Benjamin Sesko from RB Salzburg. They added more depth in midfield and spent on a 20-year-old center back from Lyon to replace Gvardiol.
The underlying numbers suggested there wasn't much of a gap between Leipzig and Dortmund last season. Both have a lot of production to replace, but I'm much higher on Leipzig's replacements. I like the manager and the defense a lot more too. Dortmund and Leipzig should be priced similarly behind Bayern.
Augsburg to be relegated (+225 via bet365)
Augsburg had an extreme counterattacking profile once again in the Bundesliga last year and scraped by with just enough home wins to stay in the German top flight. For three consecutive seasons, Augsburg's xGD has been no better than 16th in the Bundesliga out of 18 teams. Each time, they've managed to avoid the drop.
Eventually, the clock will strike midnight and they'll be back in the second division. They had the lowest pass completion rate and two fewer shot creating actions than every other team in the Bundesliga last season. From a field tilt perspective, they ranked last in touches in the opponent penalty area and second from last in touches allowed in the box.
They are the worst team that stayed up last year, and if one of the two newly promoted teams surprises, Augsburg will be relegated.
Borussia Monchengladbach to be relegated (+3300 via bet365)
If you follow me in the Action app, then you know how much I've enjoyed backing the Foals as an underdog against the top sides in the Bundesliga. Even in a down year, Gladbach took four points from two matches with Bayern and beat Leipzig and Dortmund at home last year. However, they've lost a ton of talent and production off that roster and haven't had a great summer in replacing them.
Given the Foals' managerial turnover, squad thinning out and lack of resources to reinvest, it's fair to wonder how far Gladbach can really fall. Kouadio Koné is an excellent midfield prospect and the 22-year-old should be one of the better midfielders in Germany this season. Gladbach lost Jonas Hofmann (21 G+A last year), Marcus Thuram (19), Lars Stindl (15) and Ramy Bensebaini (7). That accounts for 62 of the 91 Foals goal involvements last season.
The two main replacements for Thuram and Hofmann are Czech striker Tomas Cvancara and French winger Franck Honorat. Both had decent seasons in worse leagues last year, but they're going to need a lot of production from them to be close to last season.
The Foals also lost Yann Sommer, which hurt their shot stopping and goalkeeping quality in the second half of the season considerably. The Foals were a below average team in Germany last year and given the talent assembled, I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the bottom five this year. There are clearly worse teams — but the Foals could be in the mix.