It’s just one week until the winter break ends and it promises to be a Rückrunde of the most thrilling nature. Yes, Bayern is clear favourite to win the league and betting for that will most likely be suspended before February ends but below that the league is wide open. Today we’ll take a look at the top four and in a few days we will look at the other teams trying to qualify for international competitions and at some teams in the middle of the table. Finally we are going to pay close attention to the other end of the table that shapes up to be just as exciting as the top half of the table – they even got a team that is locked in on 18 with Köln.
The team with the most goals scored in the league is Dortmund with a whopping 39. And while the Hinrunde didn’t go as planned it ended well and Dortmund is still the only team in the league with a squad that gets even close to Bayern in terms of quality and this is why they didn’t sign anyone (yet) despite their situation. Obviously that squad still has their problem and their main striker has shown a lack of discipline several times in the last year but with good coaching they should end up right behind Bayern which means about 15-20 points behind them which is obviously not what they wanted but it’s all they can get after two dreadful months.
One team that is going to try their best to stop that from happening is Schalke. After ending the Hinrunde on 2nd despite only winning 30 points they strengthened their forward lines because there was a distinct lack of vigour coming from their front three or front two, especially when Franco di Santo was or had to be a hard of it. Like it is tradition they signed one of the best players from Nürnberg – this time it’s Cedric Teuchert and they used their contacts with Juventus to sign Marko Pjaca on loan with an option to buy. Both could be great additions – especially for a possible Champions League campaign next season. However this doesn’t shine a good light on the situation of Schalke’s record transfer Embolo who hasn’t been the same since recovering from his big injury that saw him sidelined for a whole year. But Schalke have done well without him and manager Domenico Tedesco deserves a lot of praise for that and he should be able to secure a Champions League place in his first season in the Bundesliga.
Another manager who deserves all the plaudits is Heiko Herrlich. After a disastrous season under Roger Schmidt who was too stubborn to change the style of play of his team and thus made them really easy to counter and Tayfun Korkut who couldn’t but also didn’t really try to repair the damage done by Schmidt, Herrlich took over and put Leverkusen back to where it belongs with the players they have – top four. Before the season it didn’t seem like he would change a lot and there were games when his team would play in a style that was close to what Roger Schmidt did before but the first game of the season against Bayern already revealed that Herrlich was willing to change the style and adapt to whatever the opposition is doing which is a major way to win games in a league where teams are so close to each other. He let his team start in a weird 3-4-3 (that didn’t defend as five like most back threes do) and he tried to overload the left side because Arjen Robben wasn’t available for most of that game. “Crazy” ideas and good ingame-coaching have led Leverkusen to a respectable fourth place and if nothing goes terribly wrong this is where they will finish this season – back in their beloved Champions League.