I went into this Champions League / Europa League season full of hope that we would see a good performance from the German teams. Judging from the development of the teams over the last year as well as their recent showings and encouraged by welcome surprises like the victory of Hannover over Sevilla, I thought perhaps we can have all five teams progress past the group stages this year, maybe even to the quarter finals. Having watched four of the five games on the first matchday this week (only saw the Leverkusen game highlights), I hold on to that hope, but some things have changed noticeably. Most importantly, the German teams no longer have the benefit of being underestimated. While last season many successes of the German teams were significantly aided by the fact that they were underestimated (most conspicuously Schalke in the Champions League and Hannover in the Bundesliga), thus giving them ample chance to build on a counter-attack strategy, this is no longer the case. Perhaps Hannover have the most work cut out for them as they find themselves surprised going into games as favorites. Indeed all the opponents of the German teams, except for Chelsea and Arsenal in the first half, basically parked the bus, attempting to soak up German pressure and wait for their chances. While this is a welcome sign of newfound respect for German opponents, this may be a signal that some of the German teams may have to change their approach. Most of all Hannover, whose game over the last year has been nothing but counter-attack. They will have to widen their approach both in the Bundesliga and the Europa League in order to be successful. I still think we saw a good showing from the German teams this week and even Leverkusen who lost still looked good against Chelsea, which was easily their most difficult group game. And the fact that Valencia merely tied Genk may yet prove to be very helpful to Bayer's aspirations. Here's to an exciting international season for the German teams.