Summary grades and analysis of the 2014/15 Bundesliga sides. (Better late than never!)
1st Bayern München (M, P) 34 25 4 5 80:18 +62 79
I’m almost tempted to give Bayern an A-, as they basically phoned things in after the winterbreak. Ostensibly they had wrapped up another title already, and were concentrating on other things. But they ended up failing in the Cup and the Champions League, so their season is almost a ho-hum. “Robbery” (Ribery and Robben) have been outstanding performers for Bayern, but were hampered by injury this season. On the positive side, Lewandowski is scoring, and they’ve got so much firepower that they seemingly can win at will. Motivation is generally OK.
Best: Arjen Robben
The Dutchman was brilliant, although his injury cut his appearances. He scored 17 goals in 21 matches, and had the best marks in the Bundesliga.
Suckiest: Probably Juan Bernat, since he seems to have been Guardiola’s pet. He wasn’t overly impressive on defense, but got a lot of playing time. Dante was equally unimpressive, but the veteran had less playing time.
Manager: Pep Guardiola probably deserves a B. The club seems to have regressed somewhat and he has yet to deliver a Champions League title. On the other hand, at times they were truly overpowering. If his tiki-taka doesn’t win everything next season, his ass needs to be fired. Given this star studded lineup, if you’re at least not doing the double, it’s a failure.
2nd VfL Wolfsburg 34 20 9 5 72:38 +34 69
A fine season by the VWs, who are back in contention as one of the Bayern chasers. They’ve been here before, lets see if they can keep it going. Ceertainly a very entertaining side.
Best: Kevin de Bruyne
He’s proven himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in the league and is sought after by many clubs, having restablished himself after being tossed aside by Chelski. Honorable mention to Bas Dost, who after some crappy seasons has shown that he can indeed score, notching 16 goals.
Suckiest: Niklas Bendtner
Not much of a surprise. 1 goal in 18 appearances. I forget if he’s still on the books at Arsenal, but he’s been with so many teams now – all sucking – you wonder if he shouldn’t just pack it in and play for some 2nd division Danish club.
Manager: Dieter Hecking, clearly deserves an A. There were some signs that the VWs could have a nice season, but Hecking put the pieces together and gets the kudos.
3rd Bor. Mönchengladbach 34 19 9 6 53:26 +27 66
Gladbach largely exceeded most expectations, as the young squad developed quickly and impressed. Of course, they’ve been in this position before, and by selling off talent have fallen back into the pack.
Best: A lot of candidates. Patrick Hermann is one of the best young midfielders in Germany. Max Kruse was an effective forward, as was Raffael. GK Yann Sommer was a solid replacement for ter Stegen.
Suckiest: None really, although forward Branimir Hrgota could have shown more.
Manager: Lucien Favre (A). Did a fine job in marshalling talent, they showed steel when they needed too. Favre is certainly repairing his reputation, having had some ho-hum results at other clubs.
4th Bayer 04 Leverkusen 34 17 10 7 62:37 +25 61
Leverkusen is often considered one of the clubs that could challenge Bayern, but they almost always flatter to deceive. They had some good results, but often dropped points with lame performances. It doesn’t seem that they have enough to really challenge, but they can be annoying.
Best: Several candidates. Gonzalo Castro was outstanding, but injuries slowed him down. Karim Bellrabi was excellent and has made the jump into the national squad.
Suckiest: None. Perhaps more was expected from veteran Sebastian Boenisch in defense, but he didn’t play very much. A lot of expected solid players were in-and-out of the squad, often due to nagging injuries.
Manager: Roger Schmidt (B) did a decent job keeping the Aspirins on track. Not well known, he managed to keep Leverkusen humming for most of the season, with an occasional strong result.
5th FC Augsburg 34 15 4 15 43:43 0 49
For much of the season, Augsburg was clearly “A” quality, but towards the end they fell off and limped home.
It’s hard to mark them down, since they appear to be doing it with mirrors. The collective is certainly greater than the sum of the parts.
Best: Raul Bobadilla was excellent in attack, Daniel Baier solid in midfield.
Suckiest: The rest of the attack. Bobadilla could have used some scoring punch to help out.
Manager: Markus Weinzierl (A). It’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job. He’s brought them into Europe, with a side that could potentially struggle with. He’s kept them steady. motivated and believing that they can achieve.
6 FC Schalke 04 34 13 9 12 42:40 +2 48
Best: GK Ralf Fährmann had a fine season and seems to have established himself as Germany’s next GK talent. Benedikt Höwedes had a strong campaign in defense
Suckiest: You have to give it to Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sidney Sam, as not only did they suck, but they have been blamed for toxic spill in the team and have basically been kicked out. There are other candidates, but these two take the cake – at least according to Schalke management, who hardly have covered themselves with glory either.
Manager: Jens Keller (C-) was jettisoned after 7 matches. Roberto di Matteo (C-) was basically ineffective. Perhaps his success at Chelski was because he had a bunch of motivated veterans rather than wankers. In any case, the squad look tired and unmotivated.
7 Borussia Dortmund 34 13 7 14 47:42 +5 46
The Neons had an almost disastrous season. They were free-falling throughout most of the first half, but eventually solidified after the winterbreak. Injuries were a huge problem, and despite a decent performance in the Champions League, they weren’t able to carry that over into the Bundesliga. The return of Kagawa and Gündogan didn’t bring the desired boost, only flashes of brilliance. High point of the season was probably knocking out Bayern München in the Cup semi-finals, on the road no less.
Best: Pierre Aubemeyang scored 16 times and was consistently good, but he lacked sufficient support. He is however beginning to look like an at least adequate fill-in for Lewandowski. Marco Reus deserves Honorable mention, as he was generally outstanding, but missed a third of the season with his usual injury problems.
Suckiest: The defense. Although they had injuries, and often when they did play, individuals like Hummels and Subotic were quite good, they consistently had brain farts that cost goals at critical moments. I suppose if you were to single out an individual however it would be forward Ciro Immobile, who was generally terrible (only 3 goals)
Manager: Jürgen Klopp accepted responsibility for Dortmund’s struggles and resigned. Overall, he probably deserves a B-, since injuries truly made things difficult with constant lineup changes. But the squad lacked focus and sharpness, which has to come down to the coach as well.
8th TSG Hoffenheim 34 12 8 14 49:55 -6 44
Hoffenheim is a long way from the “moneybags” squad of the Rangnick era when Dietmar Hopp funded their rise. They now are developing a good nucleus of young players and seem to have established themselves.
Best: Kevin Volland was excellent as an attacking midfielder and ended up leading scorer. His next step is probably a jump into the national squad.
Suckiest: Veteran Sejad Salihovic was disappointing in limited appearances.
Manager: Markus Gisdol (B) has the club playing attractive attacking football. They sometimes seem to lack focus.
9th Eintracht Frankfurt 34 11 10 13 56:62 -6 43
Frankfurt potentially could do well, but I think they finished about where most expected, mediocre in the middle of the pack.
Best: Alex Meier. Despite not being appreciated by some in management, the veteran led the Bundesliga with 19 goals, despite missing about 25% of the matches.
Suckiest: Too many inconsistent players. Previously reliable Takashi Inui was weak in midfield, defender Tim Chandler often out of his league – but the alternatives were generally worse. The defense had too many holes.
Manager: Thomas Schaaf (C). He joined with a lot of fanfare, but Frankfurt only showed glimpses of getting better, and Schaaf has apparently thrown in the towel.
10th Werder Bremen 34 11 10 13 50:65 -15 43
Werder was expected to have problems and they sucked out of the gate. However management actually made a good move, brought in a new coach, and things got stabilized. They were pretty decent from then on, and even might have had some slight chances of sneaking into Europe.
Best: Austrian MF Zlatko Junuzovic was excellent, and Argie forward Franco di Santo scored 13.
Suckiest: It has to start with the defense. GK Raphael Wolf wasn’t very good, and eventually got replaced. The defenders were almost all crap, only Jannick Vestergaard looks good for the future.
Manager: Robin Dutt (F) had Bremen in free-fall, but Viktor Skripnik (B) managed to pull things together and get Werder back on track so they were generally floating above relegation.
11th 1. FSV Mainz 05 34 9 13 12 45:47 -2 40
Mainz has had outstanding managers in Klopp and Tuchel, but they didn’t follow up with their track records and slipped into trouble, They eventually straightened things out, but I think they were expecting better.
Best: Forward Shinji Okazaki bagged 12 and is the Bundesliga’s all-time leading Japanese scorer. Midfielder Johannes Geis was good. Defender Nico Bungert got the best marks on the squad.
Suckiest: Forward Sami Allagui was disappointing, only scoring twice.
Manager: Kasper Hjulmand (D+) struggled to get Mainz going. Martin Schmidt (C) got them back on track in about 1/3 of the season.
12th 1. FC Köln (N) 34 9 13 12 34:40 -6 40
You knew Köln would have trouble scoring. But they were very disciplined on defense and fought their way to many a standstill; they set the record for most 0-0 draws.
Best: The defensive collective. GK Timo Horn was excellent, and Kevin Wimmer and Dominick Maroh marshalled a tight defense. MF Mathhias Lehmann was solid. Forward Anthony Ujah did manage 10 goals, pretty amazing considering.
Suckiest: None really. Perhaps more from midfielder Daniel Halfar, but everyone was a workhorse.
Manager: Peter Stöger (C+). He organized well what he had, not clear if the squad can really advance though. Overall, he accomplished the needed to at least survive the first year.
13th Hannover 96 34 9 10 15 40:56 -16 37
The 96ers were a major disappointment. They expected better, but never really got started. Seemed chaotic and bored at the same time.
Best: Lars Stindl played well in midfield and led with 10 strikes.
Suckiest: Lots of disappointments. Joselu was generally weak, although he did get 8 goals. The defense was full of holes. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was favorite Didier Ya-Konan, who returned from Saudi Arabia but was ineffective, only 1 goal in 7 matches.
Manager: Tayfun Korkut (D) was unable to rally the troops, the players seemingly tuned him out. Michael Frontzceck (B-) had five games to secure the 96ers, and he did.
14th VfB Stuttgart 34 9 9 16 42:60 -18 36
Stuttgart had sucked last year, and they would obviously suck this season as well. But they actually played half-way decently at times, only stupid mistakes costing them crucial points.
Best: MF Flip Kostic looks promising. Daniel Didavi was very good in limited action
Suckiest: Too many to blame. GK Sven Ulreich had for him a weak season. Martin Harnik scored some important goals, but was often missing in action. Florian Klein and Daniel Schwab were among the worst defenders in the league. Lots of nagging injuries took their toll.
Manager: Armin Veh (D) got VfB off to a crap start in 12 matches. Looked relegated. Another re-tread, Huub Stevens (B-) put in enough to get them safe.
15th Hertha BSC Berlin 34 9 8 17 36:52 -16 35
One of the most boring teams in the league, they often seemed like they were trying to bore their opponents to death, although it was usually the fans that went first.
Best: Nobody. Well, the fewer games you played, perhaps the better you looked. Defender Sebastian Langkamp appeared in about half the games, and was good.
Manager: Jos Luhukay (D) had brought his “Itchy & Scratchy Fight-Fight-Fight” methods to Berlin. It worked last year, but his methods obviously fell on deaf ears as the players tuned him out this season. Pal Dardai (D+) did better in his 15 matches, but there is a ton of work left to do.
16th Hamburger SV 34 9 8 17 25:50 -25 35
They sucked! They should have gone down, but they saved their ass in the playoffs. Things started bad and got worse, the club seemed rudderless and the players should have been arrested for “Arbeitsverweigerung” (Refusal to work). Well, at least *some* of the players, others seemed to at least try, but were totally off base.
Best: Nobody, although Heiko Westermann tried to keep the defense together. On paper GK Rene Adler had some good marks, but he made enough errors that he lost his starting job to Pavel Drobny, who was generally weak.
Worst: Too many candidates. The disappointment was Rafael van der Vaart, who is a Hamburg legend, and sucked. Lewis Holtby was once a promising youngster and was horrible. Nicolai Müller may have been the worst regular in the Bundesliga. Pierre-Michel Lassogga was terrible, the Bundesliga’s worst forward (after he had a fine season on loan from Hertha previously)
Manager: Mirko Slomka was canned after 3 matches (F). Josef Zinnbauer was given a chance (D-), they showed some brief life signs, but then was clearly out of his league. Peter Knabel filled in for two matches (F) and Bruno Labbadia (B) rallied the troops and saved the club by a whisker because Karlsruhe had no balls.
17th SC Freiburg 34 7 13 14 36:47 -11 34
You expect Freiburg to struggle, and they looked like sure drop candidates. But then they put things together and looked like they would slip through, only to fall away at the end.
Best: Swiss GK Roman Bürki was consistently good, but the prize has to go to super-sub Nils Petersen, whose 9 goals in only 12 appearances almost kept the club up.
Suckiest: Hard to pick, as collectively they all tried hard. I suppose I’d pick Christian Günter or Oliver Sorg on defense, since you need to be rock solid.
Manager: Christian Streich probbaly deserves a B-, as he did rally thr troops and almost did the impossible.
18th SC Paderborn 07 (N) 34 7 10 17 31:65 -34 31
You can’t really fault Paderborn, as they met everybody’s prediction by going down. However, they fought really hard in almost every match, it’s just that they are a 2.Liga squad. The main knock is perhaps that they really made no attempt to strengthen their team before embarking upon the Bundesliga adventure.
Best: Moritz Stoppelkamp. The midfielder was solid for most of the season. Honorable mention to Suleyman Koc, who was decent, having recently been released from prison, and proved he is Bundesliga material.
Suckiest: Srdjan Lakic. He had a Budesliga pedigree and could have been an addition on attack where they needed goals, but he was crap. A few goals might have saved SCP…
Manager: Andre Breitenreiter deserves a B+. He did the best he could with what he had, a 2.Liga squad. And he impressed others enough as well, as he just got the Schalke job.