Weekend Previews

Bundesliga Week in Review

End-of-Season Special…

Welcome to the final Bundesliga Week in Review of the season. We will go over our player of the week, winners and losers, and wrap up some of the main things we have learned these last few weeks about the Bundesliga. We’re going to wrap up the season with a nice bow, only returning potentially for the DFB Pokalfinale and/or the relegation playoff.

So how did the Bundesliga table look after the final match day? Let us see…

1.) Bayern Munich82 pts.Champions League
2.) Borussia Dortmund69 pts.Champions League
3.) RB Leipzig66 pts.Champions League
4.) Borussia Mönchengladbach65 pts.Champions League
5.) Bayer Leverkusen63 pts.Europa League
6.) Hoffenheim52 pts.Europa League
7.) Wolfsburg49 ptsEuropa League Qualifiers
8.) Freiburg48 pts.
9.) Eintracht Frankfurt45 pts.
10.) Hertha Berlin41 pts.
11.) Union Berlin41 pts.
12.) Schalke39 pts.
13.) Mainz37 pts.
14.) Köln36 pts.
15.) Augsburg36 pts.
16.) Werder Bremen31 pts.Relegation Playoff (opponent TBD)
17.) Fortuna Düsseldorf30 pts.Relegated
18.) Paderborn20 pts.Relegated

Player of the Week

Andrej Kramarić, Hoffenheim (4 goals in 4-0 win over Dortmund)

I was so convinced I was going to put a Bremen player here, but wow, what a performance from Kramarić. Four goals against the second-best team in the league, becoming the only player in the Bundesliga this season to score four times in a single match. Let us just go goal by goal, cus it was quite a performance. His first came eight minutes into the match, with a fantastic curling effort from outside the box. His second was the least nice of the lot: a tap in after reacting to a rebounded shot that no one else reacted to. His third was a darting run behind the defense, fake shooting to turn Piszczek inside out, before finishing calmly past Bürki. His final goal was a no-look penalty, in the same vein as the one done by ex-Hoffenheim and current Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino. He really demonstrated all of the key qualities needed to be a successful center forward in all four goals. The first showed the individual talent necessary to score a beautiful goal; the second showed the instinct needed to be in the right place at the right time; the third showed similar instincts but for making intelligent runs behind defenses, and the final showed the level of audacious confidence needed to succeed as a goalscorer at the top level. A complete number nine’s performance from the player who was not even the starting number nine, which sealed their path to the Europa League in spectacular fashion.

Honorable Mentions: Milot Rashica (Werder Bremen), Yūya Ōsako (Werder Bremen), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)

Winners of the Week

1.) Werder Bremen

6-1???? Are you serious???

Well, in their biggest game of the season so far, a game that they had to win to have a chance at staying up, Werder Bremen sure did show up. A complete performance in all areas of the pitch, die Werderaner were dominant from minute one against a Köln team with nothing to play for. Milot Rashica and Yūya Ōsako, highlighted in the honorable mentions above, were the pick of the group, but Werder really got the performances from the whole team that they were not able to get all season. While the win did not secure safety outright, they are still in a significantly better position than they were in when the league resumed from hiatus. Now, with a relegation playoff against an opponent yet to be decided to still contend with, Florian Kohfeldt will have to keep the energy and momentum going within his team. If they put out the same level of performance in the playoff matches that they did against Köln, I would feel comfortable saying that they would undoubtedly stay up. The added layer of the relegation playoff potentially being a Nordderby against Hamburg adds a chunk of pressure onto Werder, but Kohfeldt has to manage the expectation and guide his team through the biggest test of the season. This is where we are really going to see the managerial skills of Florian Kohfeldt in action.

2.) Borussia Mönchengladbach

Champions League qualification was in their hands, and all they had to do was beat Hertha Berlin. Like Werder and Hoffenheim, Gladbach saved possibly their most impressive performance for their final, must-win match. While the scoreline may not indicate it, Gladbach were dominant, controlling possession and putting up eight shots on target to Hertha’s two. Marco Rose, like much of the season, had a gameplan and stuck with it, while allowing his young and talented team to express their individual skill and creativity on the pitch. It was not even a full-strength team, as star forwards Alassane Pléa and Marcus Thuram did not feature at all. It was young Swiss forward Breel Embolo who was the main star, playing in place of Pléa and providing a goal and an assist. Finishing in the top four is a fitting result for Rose and his team, as they were one of the most exciting and enjoyable teams in the Bundesliga this season. While they were unable to keep up their title challenge in the second half of the season, at least finishing in the Champions League places is a deserved result for die Fohlen.

3.) Hoffenheim

A 4-0 win over Dortmund, regardless of when it happens, is likely going to be a massive result for any team. When this result guarantees you Europa League football next season, it really becomes landmark. Andrej Kramarić was the star of the show, but it was also great performances from Ihlas Bebou, Robert Skov, and Pavel Kaderábek, who each provided an assist, which allowed Hoffenheim to truly dominate their opponents. Yes, Dortmund were likely unmotivated, as their second place finish was already secured, but it is still a fantastic performance regardless. In their first season following the departure of landmark manager Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim put out some strong performances and did enough to be in Europe next season. Mission accomplished, I would say.

Losers of the Match Week

1.) Fortuna Düsseldorf

They fought until the final day of the season to keep their top flight status, but it was unfortunately not to be. Following their 3-0 defeat to Union Berlin and Werder Bremen’s 6-1 win over Köln, Fortuna have officially been relegated to the 2. Bundesliga. It is always unfortunate to see teams go down, but such is life in football. At the end of the day, Fortuna were not good enough to stay up. Werder Bremen completed a remarkable turnaround that allowed them to finish in the playoff position, and Fortuna was the club that fell victim to that turnaround. While their latest stay in the Bundesliga was short, it is still sad to see them go. Here’s hoping that they recover well in the second division, and they are able to challenge for, or earn, promotion next season.

2.) Schalke

And I thought the 4-0 loss to Dortmund was bad. Here they go recreating that with a worse performance against a Freiburg team that, while they are a good team, were not as good as the Dortmund team that whitewashed them when the league restarted. There really is not much more to say about Schalke at this point (although I will say more later on) but this is likely the end of the road for David Wagner and several key players. At the end of January, Schalke were fifth. They finished the season 12th. That is jarring and probably quite angering for Schalke supporters, and if they want to avoid issues next season, they will likely have to change things and quickly.

3.) Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen did what they had to do but, unfortunately for them, Gladbach’s win means that Leverkusen will miss out on Champions League next season. Because of this, one of the most exciting young teams in Europe will likely begin to be broken up in the next transfer window. You could say that this break up has already started, with Julian Brandt, Bernd Leno, and Benjamin Henrichs leaving in the last two years, but it is likely to be slightly accelerated now. The obvious gem of this team is 21 year old wunderkind Kai Havertz, who has attracted interest from major clubs all over the continent, but it is also possible that other key players leave. Jonathan Tah, Nadiem Amiri, and Edmond Tapsoba could join Havertz in leaving the club. Leverkusen have done a very good job in replacing previous outgoing players, but it will be a very tall task replacing a player with the influence on the team that Havertz does. This next transfer window will be defining for the direction of this Leverkusen team.

What we Learned

1.) Congratulations to Bayern Munich, 2019-20 Bundesliga Champions

There have been very few marriages between club and manager in football that have worked out as well as immediately as Hansi Flick and FC Bayern München. Unbeaten since the end of December and scoring basically three goals a game, Bayern coasted to the league title in style, becoming one of the few Bundesliga sides to score 100 goals in a single season and with a significant amount of that coming following Flick’s arrival. While Robert Lewandowski fell well short of Gerd Müller’s single-season goal record, Thomas Müller surpassed Kevin De Bruyne’s single-season assist record. Bayern continued their record streak of Bundesliga titles. Just records all around for this team, arguably the best Bayern team since the early 2010s. They are a unique combination of experienced leadership and youthful flair. The hardened veteran presence of the likes Lewandowski, Müller, David Alaba, and Manuel Neuer mixed very well with the young talent on display from the likes of Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, and Benjamin Pavard. This is a team already set to be massive favorites for the Bundesliga title next season and will likely be among the favorites for the Champions League over the next two years at least. Oh, and they are probably adding Leroy Sané to that team next season. Terrifying.

2.) I doubted them at times, but Werder Bremen really just might survive

The case of Werder Bremen was always interesting because, on paper, this team has talented players in it. The likes of Davy Klaassen, Yūya Ōsako, Milot Rashica, and Maximilian Eggestein are clearly talented players who would have likely found significant interest from other clubs had Werder sealed relegation, but they never consistently gelled while together this season, and this is for a variety of reasons. Since the restart of the season however, and following a bad defeat to Leverkusen, Florian Kohfeldt has seemingly figured out how to get enough out of his team to get just enough to be in range of survival. Come the final day of the season, whatever Kohfeldt told them before the match clearly worked, as everything clicked together for Werder. Every player on the pitch put out a fantastic performance reflective of the level of talent that they clearly all have. If they play like this in the playoff, they will stay up. It is up to Kohfeldt to get that same level out of his team.

3.) Achraf Hakimi, Mario Götze, Timo Werner, and others, the Bundesliga is going to miss you

The Bundesliga is likely going to see an exodus of talented players, and several departures are already confirmed or basically almost confirmed. Timo Werner, Leipzig’s prolific goalscorer, will be going to Chelsea, while Achraf Hakimi, Dortmund’s star wing-back, is basically confirmed to be joining Inter Milan next season. Mario Götze, while not confirmed to be leaving the Bundesliga, will be leaving Dortmund at the end of the season. Brazilian center forward Raffael, who was a long-time servant for Gladbach, is also leaving the club at the end of the season, though it is not confirmed that he will be leaving the Bundesliga. Several others might follow, with significant transfer rumors surrounding Kai Havertz, Jadon Sancho, David Alaba, and Dayot Upamecano. There could be a significant exodus in talent from the Bundesliga in the next one or two transfer windows, so I hope we all enjoyed watching some of these players in the Bundesliga, as we might not get the chance to next season.

4.) I worry for Schalke and Köln next season

Schalke’s issues are well-documented. David Wagner has reached the end of the road, and he probably needs to resign. If the board is too afraid to let him go, then Schalke could really struggle next season. Their financial situation means that they will not be able to bring back loaned in players Jonjoe Kenny and Jean-Clair Todibo, they are already losing goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, and other key players, such as midfielder Amine Harit, might also be on their way out. Protests continue to call for the resignation of chairman Clemens Tönnies for, basically, wildly racist comments and comedically poor management of the club. So yeah, things are going well in Gelsenkirchen.

I also have concern for Köln. While their season is largely positive, having turned around a poor start to stave off relegation and finish mid-table, they have not looked good following the hiatus. They have failed to win any of their matches since the league resumed, including draws against several teams in the relegation fight and their aforementioned drubbing at the hands of Werder Bremen. While this could have just been a result of the circumstances of the season, it is still worrying. Should things not change, Köln will likely be among the teams fighting relegation next season. Whether it is a change in manager, work in the transfer window, or just a rethink in philosophy, Köln need to right the ship before they face relegation.

5.) It is time for Dortmund to make a decision about their manager

Once again, we all thought that this would finally be the year that Dortmund overtake Bayern and win the title, and once again, we were all wrong. While this is not entirely on Dortmund, as Bayern and Hansi Flick have to be given credit for their incredible form in the second half of the season, this is still another opportunity missed for Dortmund. These past two seasons were the most vulnerable Bayern’s hegemony has been, and both times, Dortmund have failed to capitalize largely due to their own misfortune and ineptitude. For the last two years, questions have constantly been raised around manager Lucien Favre’s ability to lead BVB to a title. Poor results in winnable games, bottling leads in the standings, and a general lack of composure when it matters the most has characterized Favre’s Dortmund, and it is now time for his position as manager to be evaluated. While the Dortmund teams of the last two years were not perfect on the pitch, they were talented enough to win the league, but it was their weakness in the technical area that has costed them. Flick’s Bayern will likely rule over Germany for the next several years, and Dortmund have missed their chance, so now presents the perfect opportunity for them to move on, find another manager, and prepare their team for their next chance at the title.

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