Leverkusen's Granit Xhaka, center, celebrates with the trophy as his...

Leverkusen's Granit Xhaka, center, celebrates with the trophy as his team won the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Augsburg at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, May 18, 2024. Credit: AP/Martin Meissner

FRANKFURT, Germany — German champion Bayer Leverkusen will kick off its Bundesliga title defense away to local rival Borussia Moenchengladbach on Aug. 23.

As usual in Germany, the champion plays the first game of the new league season on a Friday night.

Gladbach was the only Bundesliga team that managed to stop Leverkusen scoring last season, holding Xabi Alonso's team to a 0-0 draw in their last meeting in January. Leverkusen was the first team to win the Bundesliga title without losing a game.

Fixtures released by the league Thursday also include Bayern Munich starting its league season at Wolfsburg and Champions League runner-up Borussia Dortmund playing Eintracht Frankfurt. Those games are set for either Aug. 24 or 25, with precise dates and times to be confirmed.

The first round of the German Cup starts the season Aug. 16 and there is the Super Cup between Leverkusen and Stuttgart the following day.

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