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Dortmund opens title defense against Bremen

Borussia Dortmund has emerged as the best Bundesliga squad over the last two seasons, putting together a record campaign last season to repeat as champions.

Dortmund became the first team in Bundesliga history to hit the 80-point mark, finishing with 81 to hold off record champion Bayern Munich.

The battle should continue in the 2012-13 season, and both Dortmund and Bayern prepared for the 50th Bundesliga season with major new additions.

Dortmund lured German international Marco Reus from Monchengladbach and signed Julian Schieber from Stuttgart, while Bayern splashed for Dante from Gladbach, Mario Mandzukic from Wolfsburg, Xherdan Shaqiri from Basel, and free agent Claudio Pizarrro.

While Dortmund also lost Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United, the health of its young star, Mario Gotze, could erase his loss as it starts the season against Werder Bremen on Friday.

Coach Jurgen Klopp has molded Dortmund into a complete team, one that will try to add European success to domestic success this season. Dortmund won both the league and Pokal Cup titles last season.

"We now want to improve even further," Reus said.

Bayern, which visits promoted Greuther Furth on Saturday, feels the same way. Bayern was runner-up in both events in Germany, and in the Champions League.

Although its starting 11 could remain unchanged this season, the talent Bayern brought in this summer will push for starting roles.

Even with the significant changes at Bayern, the new additions have settled in quickly. Bayern ended a five-game winless run against Dortmund in the Supercup and will now try to end its rivals' title reign.

"You'll always get other teams on the pace at least for a while," said Bayern midfielder Thomas Muller, "but fundamentally I think these are the two teams with the most quality and best consistency over time."

Bremen (third last season) and Monchengladbach (fourth) both hope to challenge for the top place this season, and Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and Stuttgart are all hoping to crack the top four.

Monchengladbach hosts Hoffenheim to open its season Saturday, when Leverkusen visits Eintracht, Stuttgart host Wolfsburg, Augsburg hosts Dusseldorf, Hamburg hosts Nurnberg, and Freiburg hosts Mainz. On Sunday, Hannover hosts Schalke.