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Bundesliga kick-off

"Curtain up on the new season"

The long wait is over. “After three months the Bundesliga is finally back – curtain up on the new season,” declared CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in excitement ahead of the home game against Bayer Leverkusen, which will open the 2017/18 campaign on Friday, airing on FS1 live at 2:30 pm EST in the United States.

Seven weeks of pre-season preparation and 12 games are behind Carlo Ancelotti’s side. After some early difficulties, the recent wins against Dortmund in the Supercup and Chemnitz in the DFB Cup suggest the record champions are coming into form at the right time. “We’ve shown in those games that we can turn it on when we need to,” said Joshua Kimmich. His coach is also happy with the current state of the team. “Everything’s according to plan, we’re in a good rhythm at the moment,” summarised the 57 year-old.

Neuer not yet ready

After many arduous training session, the two men cannot wait for the opening game. “It’s finally down to business against Leverkusen, everyone’s looking forward to it and then pre-season’s forgotten,” said Kimmich. “We’re looking forward to opening the Bundesliga against Leverkusen,” added Ancelotti in anticipation of the first home game of the season.

Only the current personnel situation dampened the Italian’s mood a little. The game will come too soon for captain Manuel Neuer. “We don’t want to take any risks. We’ll see how he is next week but I think he’ll be able to play against Bremen,” explained the boss. Javi Martinez, James Rodriguez, Thiago, Juan Bernat and Jérôme Boateng are also not available.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
"An event the whole world is looking forward to"

Despite missing these key players, Ancelotti feels “ready for the game” and hopes his side “can put in a good performance”. The first match “is always difficult”, especially because you can’t really assess the opponents. Leverkusen have a new man in the dugout in Heiko Herrlich. “They have a new playing philosophy. Previously they played very aggressively,” commented Ancelotti.

After finishing 12th last season, Leverkusen lost three important players over the summer in Hakan Calhanoglu, Chicharito and Ömer Toprak, but they brought in two strong new signings in Sven Bender and Dominik Kohr. The Werkself will be without Lars Bender (ankle) in Munich, while Kai Havertz is a doubt due to a knee problem.

For Herrlich, though, that’s no reason to hide. “We don’t go along with the Olympic motto that it’s the taking part that counts. We want to play with courage,” said the 45 year-old. The fans can therefore expect a great game between two top Bundesliga teams. As Rummenigge put it, “it’s an event the whole world is looking forward to.”

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