The Bundesliga is back on FOX Sports this weekend. Bayern Munich looks to make it five titles in a row, while the rest of the league gears up to challenge the reigning champs. Germany is chock full of young talent, and this year looks to be a banner year for up-and-coming stars ready to make their mark. Here's a look at 12 players set to break out in Germany this season.
Timo Horn - FC Koln
23-year-old Timo Horn won the gloves for his hometown FC Koln in 2012, and he’s been a mainstay for the Billy Goats since then. Another in a long line of technically proficient German goalkeepers, Horn is a commanding presence in goal, a strong shot stopper and he’s developed a propensity for saving penalties, having kept out 23 percent of those he’s faced since 2009. Horn has been linked with a number of clubs since making his bow for Cologne, but it looks as if he’ll be staying put for at least another season. That’s bad news for Bundesliga attackers.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesJuergen Schwarz
Felix Passlack - Borussia Dortmund
Pocket dynamo Felix Passlack is yet another talented youngster to come off the Borussia Dortmund wunderkind conveyor belt. The total package, Passlack is able to play as a left or right fullback, and capable of operating on both wings. Good with both feet, pacy, and surprisingly strong for his size, Passlack’s scored a staggering 37 goals and created 32 assists in 64 appearances for the club's under-17 and under-19 teams. He was one of the best players on the pitch in Dortmund’s 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup, and this is far from the last we’ve heard from the 18-year-old German.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesSascha Steinbach
Jonathan Tah - Bayer Leverkusen
Tah didn’t make Germany’s initial Euro 2016 squad list, but the promising 20-year-old defender was included following Antonio Rudiger’s ACL injury. A massive rock of a center-back, with surprising pace and astute reading of the game, Tah’s distribution and calm demeanor has set him apart already. Now, with Leverkusen having strengthened their team, ready to challenge in both Bundesliga and Champions League, look for Tah to really make a name for himself this year.
Getty ImagesOliver Kremer at Pixolli Studios
Niklas Süle - TSG Hoffenheim
Germany’s production line really cannot stop churning out talent. Hoffenheim’s hulking center-half (SAY IT FIVE TIMES FAST, I DARE YOU) moves like a man half his size, sniffing out opposition attacks and launching his side forward with smart distribution from the back. Like fellow center-back Jonathan Tah, 20-year-old Süle stands at fully 6 feet 4 inches and nearly 200 pounds, predictably strong in the air and in the tackle. A mainstay in Hoffenheim’s first XI since 2013, Sule had a strong Olympics for Germany, and will look to carry that form into the new Bundesliga season, establishing himself as one of the league’s top defenders.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesDennis Grombkowski
Renato Sanches - Bayern Munich
Renato Sanches was perhaps the most coveted teenager in the world this summer before Bayern snatched the then-18-year-old up. He went on to star for Portugal in the European Championships, breaking Ronaldo’s record as the youngest-ever player in a final. A prodigiously talented midfielder already, under Carlo Ancelotti’s mentorship, he has the potential to become one of the world’s best players.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesMarc Mueller
Emre Mor - Borussia Dortmund
Another Dortmund wunderkind, the 19-year-old Emre Mor arrives at the Westfalenstadion after just one year in FC Nordsjaelland’s first team. Standing at just 5 feet 6 inches, the Danish-born Turkish international has been compared to both Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri. Preferring to operate from the right wing, Mor is lightning-quick, but strongly built with a low center of gravity. He's robust enough to play through the middle as well. Left-footed with a penchant for cutting into the middle like a certain Argentine wizard, Mor’s mesmerizing dribbling skills make him a born entertainer.
Getty ImagesDeniz Calagan
Breel Embolo - Schalke 04
19-year-old Swiss international Breel Embolo arrives in Germany after three years in FC Basel’s first team, scoring 30 goals for his club side, and making 15 appearances for his national team in the process. Blessed with searing pace, a grown man’s build, and silky smooth skill on the ball, Embolo can play anywhere across a front three, as a lone striker, or even as a midfielder in a pinch. Used mainly as a sub during Euro 2016, Embolo struggled to truly make a mark for Switzerland, but still earned a move to Schalke directly after the tournament. It remains to be seen what impact he’ll have with Schalke, but if utilized properly, he looks set for a big year in Gelsenkirchen.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesDaniel Kopatsch
Julian Brandt - Bayer Leverkusen
20-year-old Julian Brandt began to make a truly name for himself last year. Despite struggling a bit early, toward the latter end of the season he went on a scoring tear, netting four times in five matches, adding a further three assists, and helping Leverkusen push on to secure an automatic Champions League spot. A powerful and quick attacker capable of operating on either wing, Brandt sets himself apart with his fantastic technique and intelligence on the ball. Despite not making the cut for Germany’s Euro 2016 side, Brandt was a key part of the Germany team that earned a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, and he’ll be an important element as Leverkusen look to truly challenge for the Bundesliga title and make their mark in Europe.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesLars Baron
Ousmane Dembele - Borussia Dortmund
Ousmane Dembele signed for Dortmund this summer after becoming a YouTube legend in his first season at Rennes. Far from just being a highlight-reel magician though, the electric 19-year-old winger looks like the real deal: he scored 12 goals for Rennes in his first full season in Ligue 1, and he’s been making grown men look like small, tottering children all pre-season for Dortmund. He’s going to be must-watch television.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesSimon Hofmann
Timo Werner - RB Leipzig
One of Germany’s most prodigiously talented youngsters, the 20-year-old Werner has already had a fairly up-and-down career. The pacy striker played 95 top-flight games for VfB Stuttgart, becoming the youngest player to score twice in a Bundesliga game at the age of just 17 years and 249 days. He also became the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances, hitting that mark just before his 19th birthday. However, with (now-relegated) Stuttgart in danger of dropping to the 2. Bundesliga, Werner fell out with his coach Alexander Zorniger, with the under-pressure manager publicly questioning his mentality to the press, saying: "I am not his nanny … He should not be satisfied with just making the squad." That’s all in the past for Werner though. He completed a €10m move to newly promoted RB Leipzig, and he’ll look to hit the ground running for the rapidly rising club.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesMatej Divizna
Alen Halilovic - Hamburg SV
Croatian starlet Alen Halilovic was snapped up by Barcelona as a 17-year-old. He failed to make a single appearance for the Blaugrana in his two years on the books at the club, going out on loan twice, before signing for Hamburg ahead of the 2016/17 season. Halilovic is a prodigiously talented player though, and he didn’t earn the nickname “Croatian Messi” for no reason. A diminutive attacker, Halilovic thrives on the right wing, but can play as a No. 10 or even on the left. He’s a hard worker, often found tackling back beyond midfield, and using his acceleration and close control to beat defenders once the ball is at his feet. Barcelona have a €12m buyback option on Halilovic, so don’t be surprised to see the little fella back in Spain very soon, should he perform up to his true potential in a Hamburg shirt.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesThomas Eisenhuth
Christian Pulisic - Borussia Dortmund
It’s a big year for Christian Pulisic. He broke records left and right last year, earning a call-up to the USMNT before even becoming a legal adult in the States. Pulisic still couldn’t buy cigarettes on our shores if he tried, but his maturity on the pitch is undeniable. As talented as the young attacker is though, he’s got a lot of quality players in his way at Dortmund. Stoke City have reportedly offered the American a way out, but should he stay in Germany, he’ll have to fight to make his mark.