A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Promoted Schalke visits Cologne for its first game back in the Bundesliga after its season in the second division. Schalke has a new coach in Frank Kramer after club great Michael Büskens steered it back into the top division with seven wins from his eight games in charge. Whether Kramer enjoys a similar success rate remains to be seen after an offseason of signings and departures at the cash-strapped club. Cash is no problem for Leipzig, which visits Stuttgart for the early game. Leipzig, which finished fourth last season, last week signed Germany defender David Raum for a reported 26 million euros ($26.5 million) from Hoffenheim.
Marseille, Rennes and Nice are among the contenders for a top-three finish. Marseille hosts Reims, Rennes plays Lorient, and Nice visits promoted Toulouse. Igor Tudor has big shoes to fill after replacing Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, who left Marseille this summer reportedly because of a disagreement with the club’s recruitment strategy. Marseille heavily relied on Dimitri Payet to create and score goals so the arrival of Colombian striker Luis Suarez from Granada could alleviate Payet’s burden. Hoping to qualify for the Champions League, Rennes has signed Wales international Joe Rodon on loan from Tottenham and Belgian defender Arthur Theate from Bologna for a reported fee of 20 million euros to make up for the departure of Morocco center back Nayef Aguerd to West Ham. Nice has replaced coach Christophe Galtier with a familiar face, Lucien Favre, who led the club to a third-place finish in 2017. Nice’s recruitment policy has been ambitious with the signing of Wales international Aaron Ramsey from Juventus and Romanian winger Rares Ilie from Rapid Bucharest to help out Andy Delort and Amine Gouiri up front. At the back, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has replaced Walter Benitez, who joined PSV Eindhoven, while promising center back Mattia Viti from Empoli will be an alternative to an aging Dante.
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