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What's new for the 2014/15 Bundesliga season

Here we go again! The 52nd season of the Bundesliga kicks off on Friday (8:30pm CET) with a matchup between FC Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg. Awaiting both players and fans are many new innovations and features. Here is a quick summary of what everyone can expect this season.

New Players:

Lots is happening again in the transfer market this summer! By Thursday afternoon, the 18 Bundesliga clubs had already made 168 additions and seen 145 players leave their teams. The transfer window remains open until 1 September.

FC Bayern said goodbye to five players (Toni Kroos, Mario Mandzukic, Daniel van Buyten, Diego Contento, Lukas Raeder). The German record champions brought in four new players: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Juan Bernat (Valencia) and Sebastian Rode (Frankfurt).

And then there's Holger Badstuber! After 20 months out with injury, the centerback is finally fit again and almost like a fifth signing. Who will manage to make the starting line-up for the season opener? For that we'll have to wait until Friday evening an hour before the ref whistles the game underway.

New Teams:

In FC Cologne and SC Paderborn, two new teams were promoted to the Bundesliga, but they could not be more different. Cologne have three German championships to their name and a storied history. Paderborn, on the other hand, will experience their first-ever season in the top flight and have the smallest stadium in the league (15,000 capacity). Both clubs have one thing in common, though: excitement to be in the top flight and the goal of staying up.

FC Bayern will play both newly-promoted clubs within five days. Pep Guardiola's side take on Paderborn on September 23 and Cologne on September 27.

New Ball:

For the fifth season in a row, the Bundesliga (and Bundesliga 2) will use the same matchball. This season too the ball will come from adidas. Named TORFABRIK, the new ball is based on the official World Cup matchball Brazuca from a design and technology aspect. For the icy and snowy winter months, the ball will have an eye-catching yellow design.

New Seating Areas:

With the conversion of the lower deck in the Suedkurve (Blocks 109-117) into standing room (domestic games), FC Bayern fulfilled the wish of many fans. Thanks to the installation of retractable folding seats, the Suedkurve can quickly be converted into a full seating area for international and European matches.

The Allianz Arena’s upper deck might also be undergoing changes in the future. By adding additional rows, the overall capacity can be increased by 4,000 for international matches and 1,500 for domestic fixtures. This transformation is pending approval.

The new planned capacities in detail:

Domestic:  75,024 (previous: 71,137)
                    Standing room: 15,900 (14,794)
                    Seats: 59,124 (57,343)
                    International: 69,334 (67,812)

New Pitches:

The opening game on Friday evening at the Allianz Arena will feature a brand new hybrid pitch. The combination of natural and artificial grass has paid dividends in other leagues (Premier League) and is the future of sports turf. The grass is sturdier and offers optimal playability. One of the pitches at the Saebener Strasse has also been replaced by the new hybrid grass, as we reported in July.

New Referees:

The group of referees for the new season has increased to 23. Sascha Stegemann, who refereed in the second and third division in the last three seasons and already has some DFB Cup games under his belt, is the newest addition to the team. The 29-year-old supports FC Niederkassel and is a graduate in business administration. 

New Rules:

There are none. Offsides, handballs, yellow, and red cards – everything stays the same, although in a four-day pre-season retreat at Lake Chiem the referees were advised to punish hard fouls more severly.

New Equipment:

For the time being, there is none for the start of the season. The use of the free kick 'vanishing' spray has been approved by the DFL but not in time for the referees to use at the start of the season. Come the second half of the season, the Bundesliga (and Bundesliga 2) will also be using the spray. The spray will be used to mark the location of the free kick as well as the distance of the defensive wall.

Patience will also have to be exercised as far as goal-line technology, which was advocated by the referees, is concerned. The implementation was rejected by the 36 professional clubs back in March. FC Bayern's proposal to introduce the technology in the top flight only will be deliberated at the DFL members meeting in December.