The 2011/12 seasons are kicking off all round Europe. The Premier League in England starts today and the leagues in Germany and Scotland are already underway. I called together the talents of some of the best writers around to give you a glimpse into their predictions for the season ahead.


Terry Duffelen is one half of the excellent “Bundesliga Show” podcast and the fantastic new website “Bundesliga Lounge” be sure to check it out. Here are Terry’s predictions for new Bundesliga season.

Who do you think is the favourite for the title in your respective league and why?

I’m placing my fiver on FC Bayern Munich for the title. Mainly because they rarely go two seasons without winning it but also because I think they have finally addressed their defensive problems with the recruitment of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Rafinha to their ranks. I think Bayern could win the league by ten points or more.

Are there any teams we should be watching out for to spring a surprise this season?

There have been so many surprises in the Bundesliga recently that it would be unexpected if there was a resurgence of the old guard such as Stuttgart and Hamburg. However, I was hugely impressed by the way Kaiserslautern comfortably survived in their first season back in the First Bundesliga. Although they have lost their top scorer Srdan Lakic to Wolfsburg I believe they could improve.

Can you give us two players worth keeping an eye on this season and why?

If Michael Mancienne can succeed at Hamburg then he may create a new path for English players to work abroad. Twenty Two year old Nils Petersen was signed by Bayern from Second Division Energie Cottbus and given the number 9 shirt. A significant gesture by the club.

Are there any teams you think will struggle and end up in the relegation zone?

Newly promoted FC Augsburg have never played in the First Bundesliga. The club, themselves seem reconciled to a season of struggle and possible relegation. FC Nurnberg lost two excellent players in Mehmet Ekici and Ilkay Gundagon. The club nearly qualified for Europe last season but may struggle to fill in for those lost players. They could be another Hertha Berlin from a couple of seasons ago.

Are there any teams outside the Bundesliga that you will be watching this season?

I’m intrigued by Juventus’ signings this Summer and I’m curious to learn how Arturo Vidal will get on at the Old Lady. I’ve taken a season ticket for my local non league club, Whyteleafe FC and plan to make regular trips to Selhurst Park. Home of the mighty Crystal Palace.

Scott Johnston is the mastermind behind the very successful “The Footy Blog.net” Last season Scott was the SPL correspondent for World Football Columns and has a keen eye on the league this year.

Who do you think is the favourite for the title in your respective league and why?

I think currently Celtic are the favourites for the SPL title but the one thing you have to remember is that the Old Firm do most of their transfer business towards the last week of August. So I don’t make my final predictions until after transfer deadline day.

But at the moment Celtic have the stronger squad and have started the season looking really up for it already. They have strong competition in most positions but would still need a new keeper and striker. I do like the transfer policy at Parkhead they look everywhere and anywhere for a decent buy and have found real gems in Emilio Izaguirre, Beram Kayal, Ki Sung-Yueng & Gary Hooper.

So if Rangers don’t make a better impact in the transfer market then I think Celtic will wrestle the League title away from Ibrox.

Are there any teams we should be watching out for to spring a surprise this season?

I like the transfers Danny Lennon has made at St Mirren. Steven Thompson and Gary Teale are former Scottish internationalists returning to the Scotland after careers down south and although they are older now I think they will prove to be a good partnership in the SPL.

I think some of the bigger teams will find it tough to earn points through at Paisley this season if St Mirren can keep to their game plan.

Can you give us two players worth keeping an eye on this season and why?

No it’s the SPL!!!

Honestly I think if he can stay fit David Templeton of Hearts can terrorize any full back in the SPL. He gave Steven Whittaker no end of trouble in the opening day before he went off injured. He can provide pace, assists and goals. But like every Scottish winger he needs to find consistency.

Murray Davidson had a very good season in St Johnstone’s midfield last term and will need to continue that form if he wants to break into the Scotland set-up regularly. The twenty-three year old was subject of a bid from champions Rangers in the summer that the Saints through out but it shows the bigger teams are looking at Murray. But I would say that he needs to add more goals to his game.

Are there any teams you think will struggle and end up in the relegation zone?

I think there will be a straight fight between Dunfermline and Inverness Caley Thistle to stay up this year.

Newcomers Dunfermline have not done enough in recruiting for me to see them ready to make the step up from the First Division a successful one. Their buys have not caught the imagination and it might be a culture shock for Jim McIntyre and his team.

At Caley boss Terry Butcher has made a lot of changes and has lost his top goalscorer Adam Rooney to Championship side Birmingham. The main problem for me is that a lot of the players who helped Caley to the SPL were released and I think their commitment will be missed in the highlands.

Are there any teams outside your respective league that you will be watching this season?

There will be a few. Can Napoli recreate their form from last season? How will Roma do with new boss Luis Enrique? Can Chelsea finally win the Champions League? What will Swansea bring to the EPL? Whichever team signs Neymar will be exciting to follow.

But for me the PSG project is getting exciting. With the signing of Javier Pastore ahead of Chelsea all eyes will look at what they can do in Ligue 1. I like their coach Antoine Kombouare who played with Aberdeen and I hope he is given a chance to prove himself with the players now at his disposal, although I would be concerned with Leonardo hovering around. The new signings like Gameiro, Sirigu, Sissoko & Menez will help Bodmer, Sakho & Nene become title favourites.


Finally we come to the new season in the English Premier League. Andrew Winn is an English journalist living on the other side of the border and he writes about the Premier League for a number of different websites. Andrew brings us his thoughts on the league and who are the teams to watch this season.

Who do you think is the favourite for the title in your respective league and why?

Last year I predicted a Mancunian one-two and I’m sticking with it again this year, with United winning title number 20. Much like last season, it’s not so much why United can; it’s why the others cannot. Villas Boas could be a great manager for Chelsea in the long-term, just not with the aging squad he has at the moment. Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs will fight for nothing higher than fourth, and begrudgingly consider that an accomplishment.

Are there any teams we should be watching out for to spring a surprise this season?

I wouldn’t say I’m tipping them to surprise at all, but I’m curious about Sunderland; they’ve invested heavily, with a mixture of experience and potential, but I’m still hesitant about Bruce as a manager, and if he is the person to, as the cliché goes, “take them to the next level”. Apart from that, I expect the experienced managers at West Brom (Hodgson) and Fulham (Jol) to impress.

Can you give us two players worth keeping an eye on this season and why?

If they can get regular playing time, then Tom Cleverley for Man United and Sunderland’s Ji Dong-Won. Both will need a touch of good luck on their sides though; Ferguson’s midfield and Bruce’s choice of strikers mean that they may sit out more than they start matches, but that doesn’t rule them out of making a name for themselves when the chance arises.

Are there any teams you think will struggle and end up in the relegation zone?

Blackburn are still all talk and no trousers, and will join Wigan and Wolves in having a wretched season. However, the real issues look set to be at Bolton and Villa. The former have Lee Chung-Yong absent for the entire season, a lack of replacement strikers for Elmander and Sturridge and may crumble further if Gary Cahill also departs, whilst fans and perhaps even the players of the latter will find the bigger struggle bonding with McLeish.

Are there any teams outside your respective league that you will be watching this season?

Brighton in a new league and a new stadium, Forest under McLaren, and also Wimbledon (back) in league football to name a few.

 

Thank you to Terry, Scott and Andrew for taking part, next week you will hopefully find some thoughts from France, Spain and Italy.

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