The Bundesliga returns to FOX Sports this weekend. Bayern Munich takes aim at a record 5th straight title while main rivals Dortmund and Leverkusen have stocked up on talent this summer, ready to give chase. Several Americans are also gearing up for big seasons with their clubs. Here's a look at 17 players to keep your eye on in Germany this season.
Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund
If you look at Reus’ medical file, you might think he was an Arsenal player. After missing 43 games for Dortmund over the last three years, as well as the Euros and the last World Cup for Germany, can the Rolls Reus finally stay out of the shop? If he can, Reus could salvage what’s left of his prime years of his career and help Dortmund make a serious run at Bayern.
Borussia Dortmund/Getty ImagesAlexandre Simoes
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
Lewandowski became the first Bundesliga player in 39 years to crack the 30-goal mark last season, and he’ll once again bear the scoring load for the four-time defending champions. As the only proven No. 9 on the roster, Bayern can’t afford Lewandowksi to go down with an injury or fall into a slump. Don’t expect the latter to happen.
Getty ImagesBoris Streubel
Mario Gomez, Wolfsburg
Gomez enjoyed a career renaissance at Besiktas and made the most of his second chance with the German national team at the Euros this summer. Now he joins a Wolfsburg team that desperately needed a top striker after losing Max Kruse and Andre Schurrle to Bundesliga rivals. After a disappointing 8th-place finish last season, the Wolves need Gomez to be a hit.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesRonny Hartmann
Javier Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen
After scoring 26 goals in 40 games across all competitions, it’ll be really tough for Chicharito to trump his debut season with Leverkusen, but he’s got a chance to. The club surrounded Hernandez with even more talent this summer, and should he stay healthy – like, not falling down the stairs at his home – expect another big year from the Mexico star.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesMika Volkmann
Bobby Wood, Hamburger SV
Hamburg have been a mess for the past couple of seasons now, and an anemic offense was the biggest reason why. Enter Wood, whose 17 goals last season for Union Berlin were good for third-most in the 2. Bundesliga and earned him a move up to the first division. The rising U.S. national team star should see a lot of time this season and may have even supplanted Pierre-Michel Lasogga as the starter this summer.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesJoachim Sielski
Mahmoud Dahoud, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Tabbed as one of the most exciting prospects in Germany a summer ago, Dahoud did not disappoint, tallying 5 goals and 9 assists in his first full season with the senior squad. Gladbach reportedly rejected offers from both Liverpool and PSG for the 20-year-old this summer, but the Foals won’t be able to keep Dahoud forever. Watch him in the Bundesliga while you can.
Borussia Moenchengladbach via GeChristian Verheyen
Mario Götze, Borussia Dortmund
Götze’s talent has never been questioned, but since joining Bayern three years ago little has gone right for him at club level. Dortmund will hope Götze’s return rekindles some of the magic that helped them win two Bundesliga titles together, but he first has to prove deserving of filling the playmaker role left by Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Here’s what we do know: No Bundesliga player will be more scrutinized and over-analyzed this season than Götze.
Borussia Dortmund/Getty ImagesAlexandre Simoes
Arturo Vidal, Bayern Munich
After a slow start to his Bayern career, Vidal arguably became the club’s most important player after the winter break, consistently playing at his best in the biggest games. On a team full of skill players, the Chilean’s tenacity and impeccable work rate continues to make him invaluable when Bayern face teams capable of matching their own brilliant attack.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesSascha Steinbach
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke
How much does “The Hunter” have left in the tank? That figures to be the key question at Schalke. Though he didn’t show signs of slowing down last year, Huntelaar is now 33 and a striker’s production usually falls off significantly as they reach their mid-30s.
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Kevin Volland, Bayer Leverkusen
Say hello to Chicharito’s new partner in crime in Leverkusen. The Werkself spent a club-record €20 million for the versatile 23-year-old attacker, who scored 33 goals in four seasons with Hoffenheim. How well the two forwards gel will play a huge part in determining if Leverkusen can stay closer to Bayern and Dortmund this season.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesChristof Koepsel
Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen
The U.S international arrived at Bremen with high hopes but missed almost the entire season to a serious hip injury, scoring just 2 goals in 6 games before hitting the shelf in late September. The lengthy layoff made Johannsson almost an afterthought, but after losing Anthony Ujah in the summer and Claudio Pizarro now 37 (he can’t keep doing this forever, right? Right??), Bremen will hope for a big bounce-back season.
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Julian Draxler, Wolfsburg
Draxler made it abundantly clear he wanted to leave Wolfsburg this summer, and when the club refused, the 22-year-old claimed a promise had been broken. The whole episode could threaten to affect him negatively, but the feeling here is Draxler should use it as motivation and force a transfer next summer with a much bigger season than his last (5 goals, 5 assists).
Bongarts/Getty ImagesMatthias Kern
Sebastian Rode, Borussia Dortmund
Of Dortmund’s eight signings this summer, the underrated Rode could turn out to be the most important. Rode couldn’t crack into Bayern’s first team, but was one of Germany’s most promising defensive midfielders when he arrived. Now tasked with replacing Ilkay Gundogan, Rode already showed what he can do with a top performance in Dortmund’s Super Cup loss to Bayern.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesOliver Hardt
Douglas Costa, Bayern Munich
Costa exploded onto the scene last season, making 43 appearances across all competitions, tallying 7 goals and 12 assists. The Brazilian winger terrorized Bundesliga full backs and figures to be relied upon heavily again this year with the health of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery constantly in limbo.
AFP/Getty ImagesTOBIAS SCHWARZ
John Anthony Brooks, Hertha Berlin
Brooks may have been the United States’ best player at the Copa America Centenario and was a key member of a Hertha team that just missed out on an automatic berth in the Europa League last season. Hertha lost in the qualification round this month, but something good is starting to develop in the German capital. Brooks is a big part of that.
AFP/Getty ImagesJOHN MACDOUGALL
Max Meyer, Schalke
Schalke will have watched Germany’s Olympic performances with glee as Meyer was one of the instrumental members of the silver-medal winners, even scoring the equalizer in the final. Meyer, who turns 21 next month, has already been a starter at Schalke for almost three full seasons. With Leroy Sane gone, expect the spotlight to fall on him more regularly.
Getty ImagesZhong Zhi
Naby Keita, RB Leipzig
The dynamic 21-year-old from Guinea turned down Arsenal to sign with the Bundesliga debutants after being named Player of the Season in Austria with Salzburg. A goalscoring box-to-box midfielder who calls Yaya Toure his idol, Keita has big aspirations for the future just like his new club, and this season should be both of their coming-out parties.