The Bundesliga has been back in swing since August, like most of the major European leagues. With a third of the season gone, and the international break once again spoiling everyone’s fun for the last time this calender year, it seemed only right to sit back and have a look back over the season so far. Who are the overachievers? Who has flattered to deceive? Which players has burst onto the scene and which is doing his team a disservice? Let’s find out by going through the league, team by team…
Michael Baum made little change to his side during the summer, with Michael Gregoritsch and Rani Khedira being his only major signings during the summer. The small gamble has sort of paid off for him though. Gregoritsch has proven to be a hit, scoring 5 goals so far this season, and has gelled well with Alfred Finnbogason. The pair have notched 10 between them and contributed to Augsburgs good early season form which saw them go unbeaten at home until the visit of Borussia Dortmund. However they have won one of their last six and this form has seen them drop down to 10th in the table. With Bayern Munich up next, it looks like their poor form is set to continue.
The Bavarian side’s early season form was sketchy following on from a poor pre-season. The laid back management style of Carlo Ancelotti was judged to be the main factor of Bayern’s dissension into near crisis (depending on what you read). Ancelotti was sold following a 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin and a 3-0 defeat in Paris by PSG. After a brief conversation on who would be given the job, Jupp Heynckes answered the call and reclaimed his seat back in the Bayern dugout. Since then Bayern have been unbeaten in all competitions and have managed to overtake Borussia Dortmund to go top of the league.
Bayer Leverkusen had a slow start to the season, suffering some inconsistent results in the process. However they recently seemed to have hit their stride under Heiko Herrlich and their summer signings now seem to be settling in. Lucas Alario was widely courted in the summer but was the eventual successor to Javier Hernandez following his departure to West Ham United. Alario has been drip-fed games but has impressed when he has played. Kevin Volland and Julian Brandt have also chipped in and now see Leverkusen sitting 9th in the Bundesliga, but the only way does seem to be up for them.
Peter Bosz’s career with Dortmund got off to a great start. They dropped just two points from their first seven games and seemed to be certs for the Bundesliga title. They made a lot of changes in the summer though, bringing in Andriy Yarmolenko to replace Barcelona bound Ousmane Dembele, Jeremy Toljan and Max Phillipp to name but a few. It was going so well and Dortmund seemed comfortable at the top of the Bundesliga – that was until they were beaten by Red Bull Leipzig at home. That ended their unbeaten start to the campaign and 41 game unbeaten run at home. Dortmund have not won since, a run which included a 3-1 defeat at Signal Iduna Park last time out, and now sit 3rd in the league.
Gladbach attempted to improve during the summer and certainly did defensively with the singing of Matthias Ginter from rivals Dortmund. However the loss Mahmoud Dahoud, who went the other way for free, has been a miss for them. Dieter Hecking’s side were well beaten at home by Bayer Leverkusen a few weeks ago in a freak 5-1 loss. That has been their only loss in the last 6 games though, winning 4 and drawing the other. They currently sit 9th in the Bundesliga and certainly have the potential to mount an assault on the European places.
What a bad season Peter Stoger and his boys have had. Last season saw them qualify for Europe for the first time since their promotion a few years ago. This season it looks like they could be in trouble again. Having lost a lot of their firepower through the sale of Anthony Modeste it is becoming clear that Cologne have failed to suitably replace him. They have failed to pick up a single victory domestically this season and sit rock bottom of the Bundesliga with only two points to their name so far.
Frankfurt have been one of the surprise packages of this season’s Bundesliga. Niko Kovac has created a sturdy side with a rigid shape that plays impressive football. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jonathan De Guzman have been very good additions to the squad but the singing of Sebastien Haller probably been the best so far. Haller has given Frankfurt another dimension up front and his aerial presence so far seems too much for Bundesliga defences to handle. Frankfurt are 7th at the minute and it isn’t out of the question for Frankfurt to make a surprise entry into Europe next season.
Judging by Freiburgs early season form you would be forgiven for thinking that they could be a fair bit of trouble this season. Having lost Max Phillipp and Enzo Grifo in the summer, it was important that Christian Streich replaced them suitably. That doesn’t seem to have been the case though. Freiburg have suffered defeat after defeat so far this season and currently sit 16th in the Bundesliga, in a relegation play off place.
Markus Gisdol’s Hamburg not having a very good season. It started off quite well for Hamburg when they picked up promising results in their first few games of the season. However the drop off since and has been startling and Gisdol will have every right to be worrying about his floundering stars. The one positive from the season so far has been the form of Jann-Fiete Arp. The 17 year old seems to be one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Germany in recent years and is already garnering interest from around Europe. They are going to need to rely on this youngsters broad shoulders if they are to get out of the troubling situation they find themselves in in 15th place in the Bundesliga.
Andre Breitenreiter’s team came up as runners-up in the 2.Bundesliga last season but have certainly made waves this season. After losing Mevlut Erdinc in the summer, Jonathas was brought in to make up for the goals. He has proven to be a good signing so far and has fired Hannover into 6th position. Hannover look like they haven’t missed a step whilst being away from the Bundesliga and like a season a step below has allowed them to regroup. Breitenreiter will be looking to the rise of Red Bull Leipzig last season as inspiration for how far his side could go in this campaign.
After losing John Brooks and Sami Allagui in the summer, Pal Dardai used the money to spend big. Kerim Rekik replaced Brooks and has looked more than capable so far. At the other end David Selke came in to fill Sami Allagui’s boots and has also proven more than competent. Matthew Leckie made the move from Leverkusen and has provided much needed width to this team. However they are still yet to properly click and it is something which sees them currently in 11th place in the Bundesliga. If this team manages to get it right then they could make a late surge up the table.
After qualifying for this season Champions League qualifiers big things were expected of Hoffenheim. Being knocked out of the qualifiers by Liverpool though, and in such a demoralising way, seemed to have knock the confidence of Julian Nagelsmann’s team. It looks like they may have got over their early season stumble though and have regrouped to become a force once again. Andrej Kramaric and Sandro Wagner have carried on where they left off last season, and Mark Uth remains a super sub from the bench. They are 5th in the table, 7 points off top spot. With a bit of momentum, anything could be possible.
Sandro Schwarz made some big signings for Mainz in the summer bringing in Viktor Fischer, Rene Adler and Alexandru Maxim among others. So far they haven’t paid off. Mainz have struggled to stamp their authority on games and are not scoring enough goals to get themselves up the table. At the moment they are 13th in the table and lie 4 points off being in any trouble. However there are some decent teams below who, provided they can rally, could overtake Mainz should they continue to sleepwalk through the season.
Red Bull Leipzig
Many wrote Red Bull Leipzig off as a one-season-wonder at the beginning of the season. Questions were asked whether they could maintain the standard they set themselves last season now that they had Champions League football to contend with too. Well not only have they performed admirably in their inaugural maiden European campaign but they have also been able to continue their fine form from last season. The singings of Kevin Kampl and Bruma have merely been squad additions so far and Jean-Kevin Augustin seems to have been the signature which has improved the quality of the team. That being said Naby Keita has signed a pre-contract agreement with Liverpool and he will have to be replaced next season if this fairytale is to continue. For now though, Ralph Hassenhutl’s men are enjoying life in 2nd position. A title push certainly isn’t out of the question.
Schalke have had a quietly impressive start to the season. Having sold Klass-Jan Huntelaar over the summer, very little was done to the squad to make up for his departure. Instead Domenico Tedesco decided to make permanent signings of Yehven Konoplyanka and Nabil Bentaleb. Guido Burgstaller has stepped up to provide the goals and Schalke now find themselves in 4th place in the Bundesliga. Whilst a Champions League place is certainly on the table, a push for the title is unlikely when you take into account the quality around Schalke.
Stuttgart were promoted last from 2.Bundesliga as champions and did so at a canter. Michael Reschke had to contend with the losses of his goalkeeper and goalscoring number 10 in the summer but has done so admirably. Ron-Robert Zieler replaced Mitchell Langerak and Chadrac Akolo took Alexandru Maxim’s place. Stuttgart are 12th in the Bundesliga right now but are clearly taking baby steps. There is no reason why they can’t fire themselves into the top half.
It is clear that Bremen have had a miserable season so far. Felix Wiedwald left for Leeds United during the transfer window and has been replaced by Jiri Pavlenka who has so far struggled to settle. Serge Gnabry was snapped up by Bayern Munich and Ishak Belfodil has so far been unable to fill his shoes. Bremen are 17th in the league and look to be in big trouble. They are so far winless this season and all of their 5 points have come from draws. It looks like it is going to be a long, hard season for Florian Kohfeldt and his boys.
Wolfsburg are another side who look like they could be sleepwalking into trouble. Martin Schmidt brought in some quality over the off-season. Divock Origi, Ignacio Camacho and John Brooks all arrived at the club. However Schmidt failed to replace some key players. Diego Benaglio left for Monaco and Ricardo Rodriguez for A.C Milan. Koen Casteels so far doesn’t look up to the task of taking over from Benaglio and Wolfsburg’s inability to hold a lead could be getting them into major trouble come the end of the season.