After we talked about the teams that could qualify for the Champions League last week we will now take a look at the teams who could just not make it and one very interesting team that are to be found in the mid-table regions.
The first one is Leipzig. After a horrendously good first season last year this one has been quite tricky. Yes, they are on par with all of the other teams from places 3-6 but Leipzig has been very vulnerable to teams that have figured out how to play against them the best. While they would still win the games where the opposition just sits deep and tries to play as narrow as possible, they couldn’t do it too much this season and for what it’s worth the biggest dip in Leipzig’s form this Hinrunde has coincided with a dip in form for Soon-to-be Liverpool Naby Keita who was often a huge deciding factor against teams who sat deep because he is so great at keeping the ball and getting it through the lines even when there is not much space.
While Leipzig undoubtedly have a very good manager, the same thing can’t really be said about Gladbach who are currently 6th. Hecking showed his stubbornness and his inability to change when he was still manager of Wolfsburg leading to them plunging into the areas where they are now. He has done a better job at Gladbach but he barely does what is expected of a squad like this making him hard to evaluate. Europa League is honestly where Gladbach most likely belong however 2015/16 has shown that more is possible but is it possible with Hecking? It sure is with Max Eberl who has done a great job of replacing important players. The latest example is Denis Zakaria who has done a great job making people forget about Mo Dahoud.
One team that has to be mentioned when it comes to International places and that right now sits on one if Bayern or Leverkusen should win the cup is Hoffenheim. After last seasons’ great success this season could almost be labelled as a disappointing one but that would not be very fair. Hoffenheim have lost two important players in the same summer and especially with Rudy they lost the one that kept them ticking over and over so anyone who has expecting Hoffenheim to do as well as they did last season needed a reality check anyway. Add this to the 8 more games Hoffenheim had to play this Hinrunde and you get a very topsy-turvy first half of the season. Now that they can concentrate on the league and with Julian Nagelsmann behind them they can do better things than Gladbach.
The biggest positive surprise of this Hinrunde was Augsburg. It has been just eight months ago that Augsburg manager Manuel Baum activated his inner Tony Pulis and kept the club in the league with very defensive football that led to three draws in three games. However, that was just a temporary change because now Baum has shown that he actually is a talented manager making his team very flexible and being part of very entertaining games like the 2-3 loss against Schalke towards the end of the year. When most teams have struggled from wide positions, Augsburg have carved out their niche right there. Left-Back Philipp Max to striker Alfred Finbogasson has been the most common combination for any team this season showing that even if you are a team that objectively should be towards the lower end of the table you can still find your niche and collect 24 points from 17 games.