presented by
Bundesliga season #51

Changes great and small in German top flight

Evolution rather than revolution is the watchword for the 51st Bundesliga season, although fans, players and referees must acclimatise to a handful of changes, with a redesigned ball, a modified offside rule, and an obligatory handshake prior to kick-off. There are five new coaches, including Pep Guardiola, and two new teams. reviews what's new for 2013/14.

Hoffenheim avoided relegation by defeating Kaiserslautern in the play-offs at the end of last season, so only two teams were promoted from the second division, Hertha BSC Berlin and Eintracht Braunschweig. The men from the capital came straight back up after only one season away from the top flight, but it has taken Braunschweig, founder members of the Bundesliga in 1963 and champions in 1967, fully 28 years to regain their place among the elite.

The promoted clubs are coached by Jos Luhukay (Hertha) and Torsten Lieberknecht (Braunschweig). Luhukay has plenty of Bundesliga experience from spells with Mönchengladbach and Augsburg, but Lieberknecht is a newcomer. Elsewhere, the only changes in the hot seat are at Bayern (Pep Guardiola for Jupp Heynckes), Werder Bremen (Robin Dutt for Thomas Schaaf) and Bayer Leverkusen, where former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypiä has taken sole charge, with last season’s co-manager Sasha Lewandowski returning to the youth section.

This season sees the fourth edition of the official standard match ball. The design for the Torfabrik 4, featuring elements in orange, is said to be inspired by the championship shield.

Referees have been instructed to apply a modified version of the offside rule. FIFA's committee responsible for the laws of the game, the International Football Association Board, slightly altered the rule in March, first to define more precisely when a player is actively involved in the game and thus eligible to be called offside, and second to prevent attackers gaining an advantage from unintentional defensive interventions by an opponent.

To promote fair play, all teams will now greet each other with a handshake before kick-off, as has long been standard in European and international matches. The match officials are involved in the pre-kick-off routine.