1 Bayern München (17 13 3 1 44:7 +37 42)
Bayern has been on point, which is not surprising. Management vowed to take action based on last season’s trophyless campaign, and they’ve been firing on all cylinders. Barring a total collapse, the title is theirs. Frank Ribery is ranked as top league performer overall, and Thomas Müller is back to his old form. Newcomer Dante has been excellent in defense (which has been unreal), and Mario Mandzukic scored bunches with Gomez out injured. Not much that coach Jupp Heynckes has done wrong.
2 Bayer Leverkusen (17 10 3 4 33:22 +11 33)
The Asiprins have quietly put together a decent campaign so far. Midfielder Gonzalo Castro has been outstanding, and Stefan Kiessling has been scoring goals.
3 Borussia Dortmund (M, P) (17 8 6 3 35:20 +15 30)
The defending champs haven’t been terrible, but they’ve dropped points where last season they would have gotten the win. Marco Reus has been fine, so they haven’t really missed Shinji Kagawa, especially since Mario Götze has been outstanding. Perhaps Dortmund’s efforts in Europe have taken away some focus.
4 Eintracht Frankfurt (N) (17 9 3 5 33:27 +6 30)
As a promoted side, the first order of business is to stay up. Eintracht attacked that goal from the start, and it’s already accomplished. They’ve ground out wins and generally been excellent. GK Kevin Trapp is a nobody, but has been outstanding. The success of the club however is the midfield (Rode, Schwegler, Meier, Inui). Frankfurt will probably start sliding down the table, but they’ve already achieved success.
5 SC Freiburg (17 7 5 5 24:18 +6 26)
Can you name *anybody* on this squad? That’s what I thought. Clearly a case where the collective is what counts. The Breisgauer have fought in every match.
6 1. FSV Mainz 05 (17 8 2 7 24:21 +3 26)
Same as Freiburg, although coach Thomas Tuchel is already recognized as one of the birght young minds in German football. Mainz has played good football on a small budget.
7 FC Schalke 04 (17 7 4 6 27:25 +2 25)
Things started rosy for the Blues when Huub Stevens came back, and the club looked like it was going places. Finishing 1st in their Champions League group looked to reaffirm that. But then the wheels fell off, and the club has descended into bickering and failure. Stevens raus. But blaming the coach may just be hiding greater problems. Obviously they have the talent to turn things around, but they really look like a rudderless ship. The hottest rumor is that they want to steal Mainz’ Thomas Tuchel, but they’ll have to pay through the nose to get him.
8 Borussia M’gladbach (17 6 7 4 25:26 -1 25)
I think nobody in their right mind expected Gladbach to replicate last season. However, there was some thought that since the spent money after selling Marco Reus, at least they’d be decent. Bzzzt! Largely the high priced newcomers have sucked. They’re still a decent squad, but they seem to rely too heavily on veteran Juan Arango magic to pull out games.
9 VfB Stuttgart (17 7 4 6 21:28 -7 25)
Stuttgart is all over the place, you never know who is showing up. At times they’ve looked good, at other times like a hapless 2.Liga squad.
10 Hamburger SV (17 7 3 7 18:21 -3 24)
HSV started slow and looked disastrous. Then fan favorite Rafael van der Vaart was signed, and they at least began to look competant in matches. The main bright spot is the offseason free transfer of GK Rene Adler, who has looked superb.
11 Hannover 96 (17 7 2 8 32:31 +1 23)
As a long time German football follower, I can’t take the 96ers seriously. I know they’ve been decent the last couple of seasons, but it’s Hannover we’re talking about. So it’s no surprise they’ve sort of fallen apart. They’re still strong enough to avoid getting into trouble, and capable of giving opponents a rough game.
12 Werder Bremen (17 6 4 7 28:29 -1 22)
Not sure if half-full or half-empty. Werder cleaned house in the offseason, basically to save money. So they really didn’t pay out for new players. Midfielder Aaron Hunt has been outstanding, but the rest have been OK, about what their market value is. With GM Klaus Allofs gone, perhaps there will be another shakeup this offseason as well.
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf (N) (17 5 6 6 20:22 -2 21)
Fortuna started off with catenaccio, and then got more conservative :). Tight defense was key in gathering points early, and then when things looked to go south, they started coming out of their shell. They look to have done their work to stay up, so they deserve a reasonable grade.
14 1. FC Nürnberg (17 5 5 7 17:22 -5 20)
Nürnberg seems to want to play to the level of their opponents. Obviously they need some offensive firepower, but that doesn’t seem likely. But they seem solid enough to avoid relegation, and perhaps that’s all that’s in it.
15 VfL Wolfsburg (17 5 4 8 17:27 -10 19)
The VWs were headed down the toilet, but they recognized that Felix Magath the Championship wonder from a couple years ago was replaced by his psycho alter-ego. So they fired his ass just in time, and at least they’ve been respectable since. The main bright spot is that playmaker Diego has led the charge back. The board however seems nuts, and will probably shake things up so things could still go south.
16 1899 Hoffenheim (17 3 3 11 23:41 -18 12)
They suck. There is some talent, but they have no clue. Or at least Markus Babbel had no clue, so his ass was fired. But still, there is a sneaking suspicion that the players really don’t care, so relegation is a possibility.
17 FC Augsburg (17 1 6 10 12:29 -17 9)
They have no talent, so what do you expect? They play hard, but can’t score. Last year was great, they survived. But their coach bailed to a 2.Liga team, so that gives you an indication of what he thought of their prospects. Their fans support the team strongly, so that’s worth something.
18 SpVgg Greuther Fürth (N) (17 1 6 10 11:28 -17 9)
Not a real surprise. Same as Augsburg, only they don’t have a fan base.