BUNDESLIGA: Season Review

1 Bayern München (M, P) 34 29 3 2 94:23 +71 90
GRADE: A+

At first, I was tempted to mark them down, as they disgraced themselves in the Champions League, and would fail to repeat last season’s results. But really it’s about how they do in German football, and Bayern basically had a most dominant Bundesliga performance, so it would be pretty hard to mark them down at all.

Coach: Pep Guardiola. Overall, he did well. Coming after Heynckes wonder season, it would be pretty hard to top, but aside from the fiasco against Real Madrid, Guardiola was on his way to actually improving the record. On the other hand, just about anybody with a pulse could probably have walked away with the title with this lineup.

Best Player: Arjen Robben. Obviously there were a lot of superb performances, but the Dutchman had a sort of revival and even outdid perennial candidate Frank Ribery. Youngster Thiago was very impressive in his appearances.

Worst Player: Daniel van Buyten. A bit harsh. He’s at the end of fine career at Bayern, and he didn’t play much. But he was totally ineffectual when he did. Compare with oldtimer Claudio Pizarro, who scored 10 times in only 17 appearances and looked sharp, and van Buyten was not up to snuff.

There will probably be some changes in the off season as the sting of the Champions League exit weighs heavily. Another failure probably means Guardiola is out, and so is the tiki-taka.

Outlook: There will probably be some changes in the off season as the sting of the Champions League exit weighs heavily. Another failure probably means Guardiola is out, and so is the tiki-taka. Obviously they figure to win the title again, although perhaps not as easily. They’ll be judged really on how they do in Europe.

2 Borussia Dortmund 34 22 5 7 80:38 +42 71
GRADE: B

Dortmund basically had too many injuries, otherwise they probably could have stayed closer to Bayern (although not enough to win the title). That might have raised their grade to an “A”.

Coach: Jürgen Klopp. Still one of Germany’s best.

Best: Marco Reus was outstanding, also had 16 goals. Robert Lewandowski played hard despite knowing he would leave. He was solid and won the scoring title. Oldie Sebastian Kehl was strong when he played, and Mats Hummels very good when not injured.

Worst: Maybe the coach, if he’s responsible for players going down like flies. Pierre Aubameyang was/is supposed to replace Lewandowski, but although he scored 13, he wasn’t up to snuff.

Outlook: This is still a good team, at least when not in the hospital. Ilkay Gundogan is hopefully back from injury, and that should give Dortmund one of the best midfields in Europe. The big question is who can replace Lewandowski. Adrian Ramos is supposedly coming in, but he doesn’t offer the same skill-set.

3 FC Schalke 04 34 19 7 8 63:43 +20 64
GRADE: A-

Schalke was very shaky early, and looked overmatched at times in Europe. Ironically an embarrassing 1-6 thrashing by Real Madrid may have actually turned out to be the turning point. In general from that point on, the Blues were quite solid.

Coach: Jens Keller did a decent job in the revolving chair that is Schalke managers.

Best: Max Meyer. The 18 yr old midfielder has emerged as the latest young talent. Last year’s sensation was Julian Draxler, who had another good season. And Schalke added Leon Goretzka (19), another midfielder who did well. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was excellent after recovering from injury, with 12 goals in only 18 appearances. Farfan was very good when he played, but was also injured a lot. Ralf Fährmann is the no.1 GK, and with competition coming in from Düsseldorf’s Fabian Giefer, it looks like Timo Hildebrand can get dumped.

Worst: Hard to pick one player. I think getting rid of Jermaine Jones was a good move, since he was too disruptive and apt to do something stupid. Overall, the defense was disappointing. Howedes and Matip were OK, but Hoogland mediocre, and Felipe Santana, the big hope, also had a rather poor season.

Outlook: Pretty decent. Schalke has good youth talent that has been blooded and done well. Consistency is always a problem, and when Huntelaar is injured, they don’t have a killer instinct.

4 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 34 19 4 11 60:41 +19 61
GRADE: B

Leverkusen was strong throughout the season, but rarely spectacular. They can consistently grind out results, but then will play unspired football and fall back.

Coach: Sami Hyypiä, Sascha Lewandowski. The team under Hyypiä was clearly drifting. Management made the right move as they were worried about the Aspirins missing out on the Champions League, so they promoted the assistant to the top, and were rewarded: 4 wins and a draw.

Best: Bernd Leno. The GK was perhaps the very best in the Bundesliga this year, which traditionally has fine keepers all over the place. Honorable mention goes defender Ömer Toprak, who joined the elite of the league with a fine season. Forward Stefan Kiessling was generally good, with 15 goals. Midfielders Simon Rolfes and Sidney Sam were also strong

Worst: Eren Derdiyok was supposed to complement Kiessling up front, but sucked. 1 goal in 18 matches. Also disappointing was Mexican defender Andres Guardado (who used to be a forward), who came in with high hopes and was horrible in his few outings.

Outlook: Expect more of the same next season, as long as the coaching situation gets sorted out. They’ve got reasonable talent.

5 VfL Wolfsburg 34 18 6 10 63:50 +13 60
GRADE: B+

The VWs were somewhat of a surprise. They’d been mediocre ever since they won the title in 2009, and were basically shedding many of their high-priced hangovers from the Magath era.

Coach: Dieter Hecking did a good job. He put together a pretty solid squad that began to believe in itself.

Best: The defenders. Naldo, Ricardo Rodriguez and youngster Robin Knoche all had fine seasons. Another young player given a chance by Hecking, Max Arnold was solid and showed flashes of brilliance in midfield. He looks to be one of Germany’s future stars. Oldie Ivica Olic was serviceable, with 14 goals.

Worst: Nobody really stunk. Forward Bas Dost was hyped up, but was disappointment. Didn’t really suck, but was largely invisible.

Outlook: Wolfsburg could go either direction. They seem to have an exciting mix of young and veterans that could be something. But a lot will depend on whether Hecking can take them to the next level.

6 Bor. Mönchengladbach 34 16 7 11 59:43 +16 55
GRADE: B

Gladbach was expected to do a lot, but they waffled. Some of their issue was they were really relying on a lot of youngsters.

Coach: Lucien Favre eventually got things right, but it’s still not clear he’s the right man. He hasn’t done well in the transfer market, but he has promoted youngsters into the squad who have largely delivered.

Best: Midfielder Raffael led the team with 14 goals, versatile Max Kruse added 12. MF Christoph Kramer had a fine season. Austrian veteran defender Martin Stranzl was excellent. Of course Marc ter Stegen is one of the better GKs, and is now on his way to Barcelona. Young defender Tony Jantschke looked good, and was the only one that isn’t already thinking about his pension.

Worst: Inconsistency was the coach’s problem. But they couldn’t find a partner for Kruse up front. Hrgota (3o games, 2 goal) was often worst player on the pitch. The defense is old and slow.

Outlook: The team has some good young talent. However some of the veterans like Juan Arango who have carried the club for years are now ready for Social Security checks.

7 1. FSV Mainz 05 34 16 5 13 52:54 -2 53
GRADE: A-

Mainz was consistently fighting and always knocking on the door for Europe. Through determination and good coaching they actually snuck in. So you have to consider this a massively decent season.

Coach: Thomas Tuchel is considered one of the brilliant younger minds, but apparently he has feuded with management and is now out.

Best: Young MF Johannes Geis in unknown outside Mainz, but was excellent. Nicolai Müller scored a bunch early, but tailed off. Forward Eric Choupo-Moting was superb, and paired nicely with Shinji Okazaki, would led with 15 goals.
Oldimters Pospech and Nikolce were rocks on defense, but they need new blood at the back.

Worst: Colombian international Elkin Soto was a disappointment in midfield. Defender Malik Fatih has two caps for Germany, but rarely showed that form.

Outlook: Who will replace Tuchel? The same question when Klopp left. Maybe they can pull in another clever mind.
Mainz could fall apart. With the exception of Geis, none of the youngsters were huge impact players, and they relied a lot on veterans and players in near the end of their prime. So there will be a lot of work to do.

8 FC Augsburg 34 15 7 12 47:47 0 52
GRADE: A

These Fuggers were a major surprise. They’ve proven that they can survive in the league, and have actually gotten better. And they were the first team to stop Bayern, a tremendous result for them in what was probably the best in club history.

Coach: Markus Weinzierl should be coach of the year. He has a “talent-challenged” squad believing that if they just run hard and give it all for 90 minutes, they’ll get points. And he was proven right.

Best: Andre Hahn. The MF has come out of nowhere and even jumped into the national team. He was very good, and even led the team with 12 goals. But the strongest consistent performances came from fellow midfielder Daniel Baier, a journeyman who had a great season. But the rest of the midfield regulars, Halil Altintop (10 goals), Kevin Vogt and Tobias Werner were also solid.

Worst: Anyone playing up front. The attack was outscored 32-8 by the midfield. Molders, Milik, Bobadilla might have been invisible in front of goal. But even they left everything on the field…

Outlook: Every season will probably be a challenge for FCA. Obviously you can expect more of the same, but sometimes you have to wonder whether the 110% effort is sustainable over the long haul.

9 1899 Hoffenheim 34 11 11 12 72:70 +2 44
GRADE: B

They can score. They can’t defend. As a result, they are quite entertaining, but destined for midtable at best, which is where they ended.

Coach: Markus Gisdol deserves kudos for saving Hoffenheim last season, and turning them into an exciting squad. And he’s doing it without the heavy resources his predecessors had, as the money spigot is largely shut off.

Best: Brazilian Roberto Firmino was superb in midfield and led with 16 goals. Kevin Volland proved to be brilliant up front; scoring 11, the youngster has already been capped by Germany and seems to have a bright future. Anthony Modeste was inconsistent but scored 12. Sejad Salihovic, perhaps one of the few remainders from the moneybags years, scored 11 and was a leader. A young defender (19) Niklas Süle looks to have a bright future, and also scored 4. See a pattern?

Worst: Well, they gave up 70 goals, so take a guess. Andreas Beck is the veteran that needed to lead the back, but wasn’t doing it. None of the youngsters they blooded turned out special. Dutchman Edson Braafheid never even played, but was once considered a catch, given both Oranje caps and a Bayern pedigree.

Outlook: Clearly something has to be done on defense. The new direction is to promote young players, which is fine, but they may need to spend some money for a couple of veterans to patch things up – just make sure they’re the right ones.

10 Hannover 96 34 12 6 16 46:59 -13 42
GRADE: C

Zzzzzz. The 96ers have gone from being a breath of fresh air to being snoozers.

Coach: Tayfun Korkut, Mirko Slomka. Slomka basically lost his touch, having really done well initially with the 96ers. He was dumped midseason, and Korkut at least steadied the ship, playing .500 ball and at least avoiding any problems.

Best: Mame Diouf came on strong under Korkut and scored 8, but will likely leave. GK Ron-Robert Zieler was generally solid at the back. Lars Stindl was reliable in midfield.

Worst: Leonardo Bittencourt is a young talent but widely inconsistent. Szabolcs Huszti started out hot but then disappeared. He led the team with 10 goals, but otherwise did squat. A lot of players were tried on defense and basically all stunk.

Outlook: There needs to be some serious soul searching and the squad needs to be strengthened. Korkut looks to be a promising coach, but things could fall apart quickly unless some changes happen.

11 Hertha BSC Berlin (N) 34 11 8 15 40:48 -8 41
GRADE: B-

It was a tale of two halves for Hertha. The promoted side was quite good in the first half of the season, and then slapped silly after the winterbreak. They were getting brushed aside, and if the season had lasted longer, they could have even entered the relegation zone. But they did great work early, even knocking on Europe, and that set the stage for a solid result.

Coach: Jos Luhukay. He did a good job. He got them promoted, and his emphasis on energetic play carried them early. Next season he’ll need to re-think though, as the 2nd half slide is cause for worry.

Best player: Adrian Ramos. The Colombian forward netted 16 times. Of course, he’s leaving the club. Defender Sebastian Langkammp was good as well, and GK Thomas Kraft was decent.

Worst player: Sandro Wagner. 2 goals in 25 appearances is pretty sorry for a striker, although you can still be effectual and not score. But his overall play was also not up to snuff.

Mentionable: Brazilian M/F Ronny had a disappointing season, but it seemed to me it was largely because he had fallen out of favor with the coach. In the promotion season, he was Hertha’s best player, but he didn’t live up to that, and seemingly his role had changed and he no longer really fits.

Outlook: Look for Hertha to perhaps struggle next season. They do get back Lassogga from loan to HSV, but he’ll probably want to leave.

12 Werder Bremen 34 10 9 15 42:66 -24 39
GRADE: C-

Because so many teams sucked this year, Werder climbs to “respectable” 12th, but they could have easily been relegated. At times they looked completely bewildered. Luckily, everyonce in a while, they fought real hard and saved points that eventually steared them to safety.

Coach: Robin Dutt. Was clearly unable to get anything going. Let me get this straight, you forced legend Thomas Schaaf out after admittedly poor campaign last season, but replace him with a dud.

Best: Aaron Hunt was good in midfield and led the team in scoring. Two problems: he only scored 7 and he’s leaving the club.

Worst: Where to start? Defense sucked, midfield crap, attack the worst. All players that had been “promising” have seemingly regressed. Journeyman midfielder Cedric Makiadi showed why he’s a journeyman, but the forwards were worse. Elia, di Santo, Kobylanski, Petersen were generally horrible. Goal keeping was generally weak too.

Outlook: Now what? Supposedly jettisoning Schaaf was the new beginning. Unless something changes dramatically, they will struggle again next season.

13 Eintracht Frankfurt 34 9 9 16 40:57 -17 36
GRADE: C-

Frankfurt really has regressed

Coach: Armin Veh. Looked largely hapless. Just didn’t connect this season and everythig fell apart.

Best: Nobody. Maybe GK Kevin Trapp, very good. Joselu was mostly crap, but scored a bunch late to help save the club and ended leader with 9. Certainly has potential.

Worst: Everybody. Even pillar Alex Meier, slowed by injuries, was largely ineffective, although he did manage 8 goals.

Outlook: Eintracht made a bold move in hiring Thomas Schaaf as soon as the season ended.

14 SC Freiburg 34 9 9 16 43:61 -18 36
GRADE: B-

This is a team of nobodies, you probably can’t even mention one player. Maybe even their fans can’t mention anyone.
But they were preapred for a hard relegation battle and kept their spirits up, and were rewarded with safety. A job well done.

Coach: Christian Streich. Did a great job rallying the troops and willing their way to salvation. Unfortunately he is unlikely to be rewarded with any more talent.

Best: Swiss forward Admir Memehdi scored 12 crucial goals and led the attack. The other players were basically unnoticeable.

Worst: Nobody stepped up to a leadership role, but this is a young team, most players in their early 20s.

Outlook: It will be tough next season. The only way to stay alive is if some of the young players blooded this season can step up into leadership roles or have breakout years.

15 VfB Stuttgart 34 8 8 18 49:62 -13 32
GRADE: D

They won a couple of games when they needed to, and since the teams below them were too busy sucking, it would have taken something extraordinary for them to go down.

Coach: Huub Stevens, Thomas Schneider, Bruno Labbadia. Blechhhh…They fired Lab after only 3 games, and that was probably right. But Schneider couldn’t motivate and they continued to slide. Stevens was a desperation punt, and I suppose he did “save” them, but it was less than .500, and since the rivals sucked more, he hardly deserves much credit.

Best: GK Sven Ulreich was excellent. MF Christian Gentner was good.

Worst: Almost the whole defense was bad. Striker Vedad Ibisevic was usually horrible, although he did score 10.

Outlook: House-cleaning and new leadership. This seems like a common theme with Stuttgart. In the past they’ve gotten a little boost by firing their coach, but had no effect this season.

16 Hamburger SV 34 7 6 21 51:75 -24 27
GRADE: F

There’s no other way to put things, this season was a disaster. OK, they saved the Bundesliga as they squeaked by Greuther Fürth in the playoff, but they should be whipped even for that. In fact, it’s disgraceful and they should accept voluntary relegation.

Coach: Mirko Slomka, Bert van Maarwijk, Thorsten Fink. Fink was fired early when HSV was drifting aimlessly, and then van Maarwijk stoked the coals of the fire. Slomka threw gasoline on it. In other words, they really sucked. Although frankly, they weren’t sucking as much under Fink, and I think they probably would have survived a bit easier under him.

Best: Pierre Lassogga, who scored 13 goals in only 20 matches and is a rising star. Of course, he’s on loan from Hertha, but could be coming back permanently. Also, this was Hakan Cahanoglu’s first full season and he had some excellent performances, scoring 11.

Worst: Rafael van der Vaart. The captain was expected to be the saviour, but often disappeared. He did score 7 goals, and had some critical assists, but he needed to lead the team and couldn’t.

The board certainly deserves a lot of the blame. They replaced Fink with even worse coaches, although based on track-record, one might have expected better. The fact is that down the stretch HSV was generally totally gutless, almost wanting to get relegated, but since Nürnberg and Braunschweig were more incompetent, they survived.

Outlook: Who knows? I can’t fathom HSV sucking as much as this season, so I expect a new coach and a house-cleaning should at least make them better than now. They have some talent that could be decent when motivated.

17 1. FC Nürnberg 34 5 11 18 37:70 -33 26
GRADE: F

Der Club sucked. There is no other way to put it. They started weak and finished crap. They were the first Bundesliga club ever not to win in the1st half of season.

Coach: Michael Wiesinger, Gert Verbeek, Roger Prinzen. They all sucked. Wiesinger couldn’t win, Verbeek was hapless and Prinzen couldn’t get anything done.

Best: Josip Drmic. It would be tempting to say everybody sucked, but at least he did what he was supposed to do – he scored. 17 goals is an excellent tally on any team. Honorable mention to midfielder Markus Feulner. GK Raphael Schäfer was also good.

Worst: I would put it on the coaches. There was enough talent on the squad to at least stay up. But if I had to pick, the Czech duo of MF Adam Hlousek and F Tomas Pekhart were really disappointing.

Outlook: The talent is there for re-promotion – and Nürnberg is used to it, as the Bundesliga’s most relegated club. If they get the right coach, they could bounce back, but they could easily implode.

18 Eintracht Braunschweig (N) 34 6 7 21 29:60 -31 25
GRADE: C
It’s a bit hard to rate Braunschweig down too much. Yes, they finished last and were relegated, but you have to consider what they had to work with, which was basically 2.Liga talent that tried really hard. And if by some miracle they had won their last game, they might have actually stayed up.

Coach: Torsten Lieberknecht, did the best he could with what he had.

Best: GK Daniel Divari was generally solid, although not a top keeper

Worst: None really, although forward Daniel Kruppke was generally terrible when he played

Forward Dominic Kumbela scored 9 goals to lead the team, so you get an idea why they got relegated. He had a couple of real good matches though, so he might have a future with another club.

Outlook: If they keep most of their players, they should challenge in the 2.Liga. But the better ones will probably have a chance somewhere else.

One thought on “BUNDESLIGA: Season Review

  1. Wow man, what a post. First of all let me say, this is NO AUTOMATE spam. I have been following your blog for quite a while and your posts are so informative, really lovely. Thats a very nice season review. I really hoped Braunschweig would somehow manage to stay in the league but quality indeed wasnt there… Too bad, at least 96 managed to do so after a devastating second half of the season.

    Keep up the good work mate!

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