Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp is hoping for another impressive display from Japanese winger Shinji Kagawa when the defending champions begin the new German league season tonight.
Defending champions Dortmund play host to Hamburg today, with Kagawa having caught the eye in Saturday’s 3-0 win over third-division minnows SV Sandhausen in the first round of the German Cup.
Kagawa is looking to make his first start of the year for Borussia, having broken his foot at the Asian Cup with Japan in January, but Klopp was impressed with what he saw against Sandhausen.
Having netted against Sandhausen, Kagawa said the expectations were much higher on him after scoring eight goals in 18 games last season before suffering the foot injury.
“The pressure is naturally higher than in the past, in the first year the fans have rather less expected of me,” he said. “Now, goals are now required of me.”
Meanwhile, Hamburg come into the game hoping to soon secure the services of star striker Mladen Petric.
The Croatian cooled contract extension talks on Monday as his side prepare to face the defending champions with his current deal set to expire in June next year.
Hamburg risk losing Petric on a free transfer next summer, unless the 44-times capped star can be persuaded to sign an extension by new coach Michael Oenning and director of sport Frank Arnesen.
Petric scored the winning goal in Hamburg’s 2-1 German Cup first round win over minnows VfB Oldenburg on Saturday in an unimpressive display by his side.
Bavarians giants Bayern Munich in action on Sunday against Borussia Moenchengladbach and their rivals have a chance to steal an early march on their rivals.
German Cup holders Schalke 04, who hammered minnows FC Teningen 11-1 on Saturday in the Cup, are at VfB Stuttgart.
Former German champions Bremen host Kaiserslautern tomorrow, but director of sport Klaus Allofs has said his side face another tough season battling relegation after last weekend’s shock German Cup defeat.
Despite taking the lead, Bremen were humbled 2-1 at third division FC Heidenheim on Saturday in the first round of the competition.
They have strengthened their squad by signing Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos on loan from Genoa and Turkish midfielder Mehmet Ekici from Bayern Munich for a fee of 5 million euros (US$7.1 million).
Having narrowly avoided relegation, 2009 German champions Wolfsburg, another German Cup casualty, are at Cologne and coach Felix Magath has spent wisely in the summer.
He has brought Germany midfielder Christian Traesch in from Stuttgart for 10 million euros and defender Marco Russ from Eintracht Frankfurt for 3 million.
Experienced midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic, who spent nine years at Bayern, is back in the German league on a free transfer from Juventus.
Croatian forward Srdjan Lakic, a proven goal scorer at Kaiserslautern, has been signed on a free transfer.
Hertha Berlin host Nuremberg tomorrow after winning promotion from the second division, while fellow new boys Augsburg host Freiburg.
‧ Borussia Dortmund v Hamburg
‧ Werder Bremen v Kaiserslautern
‧ Hanover 96 v Hoffenheim
‧ VfB Stuttgart v Schalke 04
‧ Cologne v VfL Wolfsburg
‧ Augsburg v Freiburg
‧ Hertha Berlin v Nuremberg
‧ Mainz 05 v Bayer Leverkusen
‧ Bayern Munich v M’gladbach