Mathew Leckie has some company in the Bundesliga.
One of Australia’s most impressive performers at the FIFA World Cup™ has been joined in Germany’s top flight by a possible future Caltex Socceroos team-mate.
Leckie is looking to make a blistering start in his second season with Hertha Berlin, while newcomer Brandon Borrello will seek to establish himself at Freiburg.
The season kicked off on Friday night (24 August) with champions Bayern Munich taking a 3-1 victory against Hoffenheim.
On Saturday 25 August, Leckie's Hertha face Nuernberg and Frieburg take on Eintracht Frankfurt - where Borrello will be watching from the sidelines.
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It’s hard to envisage anything other than Bayern Munich strolling to their seventh straight league title.
The Bavarian juggernauts overcame an early wobble last term to scoop the silverware with a 21-point cushion, the largest winning margin across any of the top five European leagues.
They scored 92 and conceded just 28 along the way, and also reached the final four of the UEFA Champions League.
Behind them last season was Schalke 04, who managed 63 points under relative unknown coach Domenico Tedesco.
S04 have brought in five new players, including defensive midfielder Omar Mascarell from Real Madrid and young left-back Hamza Mendyl from Lille.
Just six points separated the next six teams. Hoffenheim was the best of those, finishing on 55 points and squeezing into third with a goal difference of +18.
But the highest expectations of providing a challenge to Bayern again appear to rest with Borussia Dortmund, who have appointed Lucien Favre to lead their resurrection after a poor campaign.
The addition of FIFA World Cup™ participants Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel and Achraf Hakimi should see them climb back into contention.
Though quiet in the transfer window, the champions are again blessed with an immense group of talent including Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, who will all be itching to prove a point after Germany's failure in Russia.
Colombian trickster James Rodriguez could be one to watch as he grows more comfortable in Munich, while Robert Lewandowski will be observed closely after failing to get his wish for a move to Real Madrid.
Over at Dortmund, a pair of bright young wingers from either side of the Atlantic are threatening to set the league alight.
Englishman Jadon Sancho and American Christian Pulisic, both still teenagers, boast the class and athleticism to emerge as major stars in coming years.
Bayer Leverkusen are similarly well stocked for talented youth with the likes of Leon Bailey, Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt all high on the radar, while Timo Werner at RB Leipzig is Germany's long-term number nine.
Two teams have been promoted back to the top flight for the new season.
Fortuna Dusseldorf, formerly home to Robbie Kruse, return for the first time since 2012/13 after finishing top of 2.Bundesliga.
They’re joined by perennial yo-yo club FC Nurnberg, where Matthew Spiranovic and Michael Beauchamp have plied their trade in recent times.
The Bundesliga welcomes a second Australian winger this season with Brandon Borrello making the step up from Kaiserslautern.
The 23-year-old was signed by Freiburg despite carrying an anterior cruciate ligament injury that will keep him out until around Christmas.
That may scupper his hopes of winning a place in the Caltex Socceroos setup in time for the AFC Asian Cup, but Borrello still has plenty to look forward to after impressing in the second tier.
For inspiration, he needs only to look as far as Leckie, who is entering his fourth campaign as a fully-fledged Bundesliga player.
Last season was the 27-year-old's first with Hertha and an encouraging debut effort saw the former Adelaide United speedster feature in 26 of 34 league fixtures, with 19 starts.
He will hope to begin this term like he did the last, when four goals in five games provided the launching pad for what resulted in a fine display at the FIFA World Cup™.
The challenge now is to kick on and become an indispensable member of a squad that has European ambitions.
How to watch
The Bundesliga is broadcast in Australia by beIN SPORTS, which is available through Foxtel and Fetch TV.
HEAD HERE for subscription details.
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