It has been a thoroughly entertaining season in the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich were once again the champions. Wolfsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen occupied the following standings to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Also the surprise team of the season, Augsburg booked their seat in the Europa League with Schalke and Borussia Dortmund accompanying them by finishing 6th and 7th.
There was also tears for Paderborn and Freiburg as they bid farewell to the Bundesliga while Hamburg await their destiny to maintain their proud history of never being relegated from the top division as they need to get by SC Karlsruher in the upcoming relegation playoff. We have seen a lot of exciting match days, enthralling encounters, and all in all plenty of changes in the table standings this season. And here is a look at either end of the table and the main things we will be left pondering about after this remarkable season.
At the Top: Is Bayern’s Dominance facing a threat?
Perhaps the less surprising aspect of this campaign was the fact that Bayern Munich were crowned champions with four games to spare, the Bavarian’s 25th Bundesliga title and its third in a row. One might imagine that the Bavarians are running a league of their own, but no, it hasn’t been as easy as it looked. Bayern Munich have had troubles with top sides this season, winning only one of their 6 games with teams in the top four. Pep Guardiola’s side managed to put their hands on the silver salad thanks to invaluable points gathered from the so-called smaller teams in the midst of an inordinate amount of injuries to key Bayern players, which says something about the quality in the squad and Pep’s ability to manage, even if the last weeks of the season, including elimination in the Pokal semifinals and falling short of another Champions League finals’ berth, proved disappointing to fans.
Wolfsburg and Gladbach are the ones that have been particularly impressive this season.The Wolves managed to put 4 goals past Manuel Neuer in a thumping 4-1 home victory to open the Ruckrunde while the Foals also secured a 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena alongside many other great displays. But unlike their rivals they didn’t deliver consistently at the beginning of the season to make a meaningful challenge for the title.
But this leaves us with something to be excited about: we just might be able to see a tighter title race in the coming seasons given that these two teams keep building up their talent-packed squad while hoping that none of their stars make their way to the record Bundesliga champions.
This goes without saying that Rodger Schmidt’s young and exciting Leverkusen side will also be among the mix come the start of next season. The 48 year-old manager was able to combine an air-tight defense with positive offensive flair in his debut season at Leverkusen, and, as the former Red Bull Salzburg manager has put in his own words ‘We are a young team with great hope’.
At the Bottom: The Mother of all Relegation battles
Among the top 5 leagues in Europe the Bundesliga was the only one to have no knowledge of who will get relegated until the last match day. Consequently it proved to be a remarkable finish to the season.
With intense competitions between Paderborn, Stuttgart, Hannover, Freiburg and Hamburg keeping everyone at the edge of their seats until the final whistle. Jürgen Klopp’s statement that he is glad to not be a part of the cruel relegation battle goes to show how fierce it was at the bottom of the table. Daniel Ginczeck and Jimmy Briand were the heroes for their respective teams as their goals proved vital in keeping traditional teams Stuttgart and Hannover in the top flight.
Hamburg, for the second year running, will decide their faith with the playoffs, while Freiburg and Paderborn, who frequently displayed both quality and spirit during the campaign, will look to bounce back from Germany’s 2nd division next season. Breathtaking was the word to describe it all. And this goes to show that even though the Bundesliga has not been particularly intriguing in terms of the title race in recent years, it makes up for it with the fight for survival.
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