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Macintosh: The Martinez master plan

Everton about an hour ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 23, 2012

Lahm confident of Bayern chances

Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm is confident the Bavarians can take the Bundesliga title from Borussia Dortmund after investing heavily in the transfer market.

Champions Dortmund open the season by welcoming Werder Bremen to the Westfalenstadion, kicking off what many view as a two-horse race for glory.

Jurgen Klopp's men go in search of a second straight defence of their title, but their closest rivals from last season, Germany's record champions Bayern, step up to the plate with renewed enthusiasm.

Mario Mandzukic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante and Claudio Pizarro have all arrived to strengthen the Bavarians' squad this summer while a Bundesliga record bid of 40 million euros has been tabled for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javier Martinez, a further sign that Bayern mean business.

"I know that we are going to win titles with this good side,'' Lahm told Kicker magazine. "We have the best squad in the league.''

Bayern begin their challenge on Saturday at home to Bundesliga newcomers Greuther Furth - up in the top flight for the first time after decades of going close. If any club can challenge Dortmund and Bayern this season, it will be the team who finished third last season - Schalke.

"They are a good team, but they don't have the quality of Bayern or Dortmund,'' their former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann told Sky TV. "They can become as good and you never know how a season pans out, but their mix between fast and slow players is not as balanced as at other teams.''

Schalke start their first season following the departure of Raul at Hannover in the only game to be played on Sunday this weekend.

Stuttgart's clash with Wolfsburg, which was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday, has been brought forward to Saturday night to enable Bruno Labbadia's side an extra day to prepare for the second leg of their Europa League play-off match at Dynamo Moscow on Tuesday.

Borussia Monchengladbach finished a surprise fourth last season and that is going to be a tough act for Lucien Favre's men to follow, especially after losing Marco Reus, Dante and Roman Neustadter in the summer.

Their first game of the season is at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Eintracht Frankfurt's first game back in the top flight after a one year hiatus is against Bayer Leverkusen while Fortuna Dusseldorf's first Bundesliga game in over 15 years takes them to Augsburg.

Elsewhere, Freiburg host Mainz and Hamburg welcome Nurnberg to the HSV-Arena.

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