2014-15 Bundesliga Power Rankings: Match Day 28

We are back with the 2014-15 Bundesliga Power Rankings – the post-Match Day 28 edition. Since our last edition, Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen are on winning rampages, Bayern is “meh,” Eintracht spins on the merry-go-round of its own making, Dortmund flounders and Klopp steps down, Hertha rallies, Paderborn tries a last gasp resuscitation attempt, and HSV stinks up the whole joint, then fires/hires (Labbadia!) again.

The Power Rankings do not necessarily reflect the current table standings, since they account both for form and expectations, all the while acknowledging the fluctuation and random effects riddled through a single match day weekend, yet also acknowledging that the weekly randomness  does something like work itself out over the long run.

Thus, we proudly present our Match Day 28 Power Rankings. Debate. Discuss. Rinse and repeat!

Key: RH = Randall Hauk, TT = Travis Timmons.

Rank Movement Form Club Comments

1

(up 4)

 4-1-0  Gladbach!

Borussia Monchengladbach

It does seem that if you slay the Bavarian giant, you should get at least one moment in the Power Rankings spotlight. Die Fohlen did just that on match day 26, posting an 0:2 at Allianz Arena right in the middle of their current eight-match unbeaten run. They’ve since sprinted by Hoffenheim (1:4) and Dortmund (3:1) and appear to be positioning themselves nicely for retaining their hold on a Champions League group spot. Leverkusen will want to have something to say about that, and shall have their opportunity, but right now, you wouldn’t want to bet on anyone beating ‘Gladbach (except maybe Arminia Bielefeld?) (RH)  |||||  Call us insane. But beating Bayern, Hoffenheim (convincingly!) and BVB in consecutive weeks is awfully impressive, especially making Bayern look so impotent. Sure, you can ding the Foals for the Bielefeld Pokal loss, but in league play, no other club is playing better. No one. Enjoy your spotlight, Gladbach! (TT)

2

(down 1)

 4-0-1 Bayern Munich

08262012_preview_bayern_header

The top four have separated themselves from the rest of the league. Bayern, long ago, set themselves above everyone else. Even unter attack by an injury plague, Bayern is fairly steadily cruising toward the league title, which has been written off by 17 other sides for months now. That said, they didn’t look that great losing at home to Gladbach, of course and can look at an upcoming trip to BayArena as a potential struggle, but even with their depth depleted, Bayern remains a force, as Frankfurt learned in their 3:0 loss in München. Even with six matches remaining, only two sides remain mathematically in the title race. Bayern is cruising, even while limpling. (RH)

3

(up 4)

5-0-0

 Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen

Technically, the Pills own the Bundesliga’s longest winning streak. Hurrah. #Respect. Yet outside of pipping S04 1:0, B04 have beaten up on cellar dwellers. However, they’ve looked fantastic in the process. Kießling is scoring again, and the defense had a long run clean sheets going until M05 put up 2 last weekend. On a good day, this side easily looks like the Bundesliga’s 3rd best side, thanks to defensive and attacking balance, relative bench depth, and hard work. Roger Schmidt’s project is gelling in time for a strong finish it appears. H96 and Köln are up next up. Points in the bank! (TT)

4

(down 2)

 3-1-1

 VfL Wolfsburg

VfL Wolfsburg

The Bas Dost renaissance seems to have subsided, though rumors have Kevin DeBruyne in the sights of Bayern’s player-purchasing policies. VfL remain, nonetheless, incredibly strong and the likely vice-champion; it’s just that others are having better runs at the moment. With chances at either a leap into a first or a drop to third more theoretical than realistic, VfL is likely focused more-intently on their upcoming Europa League quarterfinal tie with Napoli than with squeezing life from lower-table sides, but losing to a struggling FCA might also have served as a wake-up call for a team that looked a bit too comfortable after reading their press clippings from the hot start to 2015. There’s work to do, but plenty of talent to do it. Focus? We’ll see. (RH)  |||||  The Bundesliga’s 2nd side place side is flagging a bit in the league, as it clamps down on both the Pokal and Europa League final stages. Slight Bundesliga regression makes sense as coaches have time to figure them out (if that’s even possible). A strange 0:1 loss to otherwise struggling Augsburg and a befuddling (and lucky!) 1:1 draw with Mainz tarnished VfL’s latest batch of five matches. Still, a massively successful campaign so far. (TT)

5

(up 1)

 1-3-1

Schalke 04

Schalke 04

Now the rankings get loathsomely difficult.Really, no one deserves this slot. Hertha hasn’t lost in awhile, but it’s too much of stretch for me to put them here. Hence Schalke. If you can think of a more deserving side, comment below. Otherwise, you’re stuck with flat-soda S04. To their credit, Schalke’s only recent loss was 0:1 to Leverkusen. However, back-to-back goose egg draws (0:0) against FCA and SCF sour the supporters’ moods, especially the defensive manner by which Schalke played these matches. Although di Matteo’s side are knocking on the door of a UCL slot, the coach certainly hasn’t won many fans in Gelsenkirchen this season. (TT)

6

(up 8!)

 2-1-2 Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin

 

The fact that Hertha BSC has a legitimate claim here is strongly indicative of the difficulty determining the hottest club outside the top four right now. The Berliners were nearly written off for dead coming out of the winter break, but are now riding a six-match unbeaten run under new boss Pal Dardai to the relative safety of the middle of the table. You can’t say Hertha has looked like a world-beater at any point during that stretch and you can’t help but notice the six opponents consisted of out-of-form Augsburg and Shalke, as well as relegation candidates Stuttgart, HSV, Paderborn, and now Hannover. Then again, you can only play the teams on your schedule, eh? Nobody would feel safe with just 33 points, even if that turned out to be enough to avoid a bottom-three finish last year, but Dardai has Hertha looking something other than the pushover they’d become under Jos Luhukay. (RH)  |||||  Our ranking difficulties only get harder. Here’s the thing, many of the table’s top half sides have lost more matches than they’ve won recently. And vice-versa for the bottom half sides. So on form alone, rather than season-long results, let me I introduce the mighty, mighty, Hertha Berlin! Heck yeah. Even superficially, Hertha’s results don’t scream dominance. The recent 1:1 draw against H96 was lucky, while nearly every other positive result was equally close. But nobody can slow these guys down right now. (TT)

7

(up 3)

 2-2-1

1.FC Köln

FC Koln

Is this the team that looked dreadful losing to Freiburg or the one that provided a thrilling 3:2 over Hoffenheim last weekend? If Köln has shown anything, it’s that they aren’t going to tell you how it’s all going to end until it’s all ended. Good news: since the three-point victory was established, only three sides have gone down after compiling 33 points by match day 28. Bad news: Köln counts itself among that trio. The season goal all along has been to simply avoid relegation. This team looks, more often than not, like they belong. A difficult remaining schedule will definitely test comfort levels in the Cathedral City, though. (RH)  |||||  Wow, this is the strangest Power Rankings we’ve had in awhile. On form, 7th place is accurate for Köln. Of course, we don’t expect a European appearance from the Billy Goats, but they’re getting into a late season groove with only one loss (to SCF) in recent weeks. Amazingly, in table position talk, this side still faintly smells of relegation talk. Strange times, folks! (TT)

8

(down 5)

 1-2-2  Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen

After riding high for so long, we knew a drop was coming, right? However, it’s not as if the quality of Werder’s play has precipituously declined. It’s still been decent. It’s just scorelines have tightened. Aside from getting “the Bayern treatment,” Werder’s recent matches have been close. Transitional defense is still the achilles heel, and the attack isn’t reliable enough to guarantee goals each week. Nonetheless, the northern club is still delightfully a top half side. (TT)

9

(up 3)

 1-3-1

 Mainz 05

FSV Mainz 05

Great life shown at the end of their 2:3 home loss to Leverkusen, but the four-match unbeaten run was not to be extended. Mainz has just two victories from their last ten, but they’ve compiled a league-high draw total of eleven to help keep themselves from falling too close to the bottom three. The results are not markedly better than they had been under Kaspar Hjulmund, but the fighting spirit has been. Three of six remaining matches are against teams below them in the table. You have a sense that Martin Schmidt can guide this side to enough points to keep Mainz from ever being threatened by the drop. (RH)

10

(down 6)

 1-2-2  

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund

The seven-match unbeaten run that propelled the BVB from basement to mid-table was brought to a screeching halt via back-to-back losses to Bayern and Mönchengladbach. European aspirations do not yet need to be shelved, due to poor runs by others and their own advancement into the DFB Cup semifinals, but we are seeing that Dortmund’s return to glory was always somewhat relative. The coming run of opponents (Paderborn & Frankfurt at home, Hoffenheim away) provide winnable fixtures. We’ll see whether Jürgen Klopp’s side has enough to make a strong finish. (RH)  |||||  What a week for BVB. You know the news: Klopp is stepping down at season’s end. Meanwhile die Schwarzgelben have lost back-to-back matches (albeit to Bayern and Gladbach). Conventional thinking tells us that, given the Klopp announcement, the boys will go on a tear and win ’em for the bearded guy. However, if I’ve learned anything Dortmund’s season, it’s that conventional doesnt’ happen. Who knows what the next weeks have in store … (TT)

11

(down 2)

 1-1-3  

Hoffenheim

1899 Hoffenheim

The defense is a shambles, and the offense is incapable of keeping pace. Hoffenheim did get four points from Hamburg and Paderborn, but have now dropped their last two to Mönchengladbach and Köln by a combined 7:3. Bayern is rolling into town this weekend. Pretty sure Markus Gisdol is aware of what Bayern can do to teams insecure on the ball with questionable defending. Hoffenheim’s run of 13 match days holding seventh place has been under threat for a while, but nobody has bothered to snatch it away from them. Seventh could be a European spot depending cup results. Right now, Hoffenheim has no business in Europe. Someone please step up and take this away from them. (RH)

12

(down 4)

 1-1-3  FC Augsburg

FC Augsburg

Consecutive Power Rankings tumbles. Amazingly, FCA are still sitting on a Europa League slot (6th) in the league table – a fate that could destroy them next season? Surely, some sand-bagging to safety is in order … Meanwhile, goals have become harder to find (they have scored two or more goals in a match since late February) and in all three recent losses, FCA have conceded 2 goals each time. It appears that FCA are living on the credit accrued during an amazingly successful Hinrunde. The times are getting lean. Mid-table beckons for the minnow royalty! (TT)

13

(up 2)

2-1-2

SC Freiburg

SC Freiburg

It’s maybe arrived a bit later than expected, but it seems Christian Streich’s annual late-run away from relegation is in effect. A scoreless draw in Gelsenkirchen was an acceptable way to extend the current unbeaten stretch to three and to creep back ahead of Hannover who’d gotten a point from visiting Hertha to overnight in 14th place. The SCF is looking at the softest remaining schedule among the relegation threatened sides, providing opportunity to get more distance between themselves and Stuttgart, Paderborn, HSV, and Hannover with head-to-heads . . . or be sucked back into the thick of the muck. (RH)

14

(down 3)

 1-1-3

Eintracht Frankfurt

EIntracht Frankfurt

Still a hot mess. You really never know who will show when the Eagle show rolls into town. You can’t make this stuff up: Eintracht loses to Köln 2:4 and to VfB Stuttgart (!) 1:3, then blanks Paderborn 4:0. Some weeks, you would mistake Eintracht for a relegation sniffing side, other weeks you’d think they were still hunting for Europe. However, the former trend has become the more established pattern recently, as mere points separate the Eagles from the lower mid-table. I don’t know about you, but my lil heart thrills to think what Schaaf’s fledglings have in store over the next weeks. (TT)

15

(up 3)

 2-1-2  VfB Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart

Stuttgart has shown some life in winning their last two home matches, even while looking like a punching bag in their last two road matches. Fact is that six points in three match days is something few others have been able to achieve; that shows the current status of the league. Fact is, even those six points is just enough to allow Stuttgart to surrender the Rote Laterne for the first time since mid-February; that shows how bad the VfB has otherwise been. (RH)  ||||| Come on, you Traditionverein! In last week’s emotionally-drenched victory over Werder, Martin Harnik put in a dramatic performance of Oepidal heights – tragic reversal, hamartia, ‘n all. I loved him for it. Daniel Ginzcek and captain Chistrian Gentner seem just as desperate to save this team. And Alexandru Maxim seems alive again. If only the wretched defense can hang in there for six more matches. (TT)

16

(up 1)

 1-1-3  SC Paderborn

SC Paderborn 07

After losing five of six and scoring no goals in that stretch, Paderborn virtually exploded in their win over Augsburg, using a pair of headers to earn a 2:1 win over a team currently in a European spot. The result should definitely be a relief for Paderborn and their supporters. Is it a sign of hope for staving-off relegation? Four goals and a minus-23 in the Rückrunde would say “no chance,” but things are tight enough at the bottom to where everyone can make their own fate a happy one in a short burst of positive results. It still looks like a Herculean task for the small club from eastern Westphalia. (RH)

17

(down 4)

 0-2-3

 Hannover 96

Hannover 96

Surely, Hannover are the unluckiest club in these rankings. On paper, their form does look horrible with no wins since December. Unbelievable. H96 isn’t an abject side by any stretch, however. They’ve been victimized by dollops of back luck and late concessions to opponents. Given the table turbulence everywhere else and little more luck, H96 could easily be a mid-table side. But here we are. We saw something similar happen to Nürnberg last season, who were relegated – and by all appearances certainly deserve their current mid-table position in Bundesliga 2. Could H96 be this season’s Der Club? (Yes it could.) (TT)

18

(down 2)

 0-1-4  Hamburger SV

Hamburg SV

In hindsight, I bet some in Hamburg wish the dinosaur had rolled over against SpVgg Greuther Fürth last spring in the relegation playoff, taken the drop, and used the opportunity to blow everything to smithereens. As it stands, it’s another six matches before what appears to be a certain drop, at which point all the pieces of this once-proud club rotting before our eyes can be disseminated into the Bundesliga troposphere for recycling, and the healing process can begin . . . in the relative safety of the second division. They’ve now been outscored 10:0 in their last four matches. Take it back a bit further and it’s 21:2 over an eight-match stretch with two points earned. Somewhere, someone is reenacting that scene from Bull Durham, “How on earth did we ever get two points?” “It’s a miracle.” Time to switch the clock from “in the league since” to “in the league until. (RH)

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