The Bundesliga: The Season So Far
When the 2017/18 season began back in August it was always going to be one of entertainment, as is every season in Germany’s top division. What we couldn’t have anticipated was the amount of drama that has ensued. Nobody could have predicted that the two of last season’s top three, including the reigning champions, would have sacked their managers by now. Even fewer would have predicted that Jupp Heynckes would return to a Bundesliga dugout once again, having retired four years ago. Here we look back on the some key moments in the season, including big performances and results.
Game of the season – Borussia Dortmund 4-4 Schalke
Going into this game Dortmund were in the midst of a baron run, having not won in the league since 30th September. Schalke were faring much better, securing some key results which saw them sitting nicely in second. It was Dortmund who took the onus though and raced into a 4-0 lead within the first half an hour. It looked as if the game was over in the first half but Schalke weren’t dead. They managed to pull it back to 4-3, before Naldo popped up with the last kick of the game to equalise. It would be a result which left BVB fans fuming and was the day that many say signalled the end of Peter Bosz’s short lived tenure at Signal Iduna Park.
An honourable mention must got to Freiburg’s stunning comeback in Cologne, being 3-0 down, making it 3-2 with four minutes to go, and eventually winning 4-3 thanks to two stoppage time goals from Nils Peterson.
Goal of the season – Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg, 30th September)
This goal would prove to be BVB’s last winning goal domestically until we beat Mainz 2-0 in early December, but what a winner it was. After a mix up between two Augsburg defenders the loose ball was picked up by Pierre Emerick Aubameyang on the corner of the box. He cut it back to Christian Pulisic who in turn flicked it onto Kagawa. The Japanese international jogged onto it, chipping it first time over Marwin Hitz and converting a stunning strike.
Manager of the season – Domenico Tedesco (Schalke)
As much as most Dortmund fans won’t like this, you cannot argue that Domenico Tedesco is worthy of this title. Schalke have been in abject mediocrity since the days of Ralf Rangnick and Felix Magath before him. He was underwhelming appointment in the summer but has proven his critics wrong. He has found the best form in Guido Burgstaller and managed to take his side to second place in the table. Schalke are a team that are now hard to beat and have character in abundance. It i frightening to contemplate what this side could be capable of.
Signing of the season – Jiri Pavlenka (Werder Bremen)
Signed from Slavia Prague in the summer for £2.5 million, Pavlenka has had a more than impressive start to the season. Bremen currently sit 17th in the table but could have been much worse off had it not been for Pavlenka. His presence has reassured his defence in testing situations and his shot stopping is currently unrivalled. Pavlenka has been so performed so well for his new club that he was recently voted goalkeeper of the season so far by fans on a Bundesliga poll.
Player of the season – Leon Bailly (Bayer Leverkusen)
Having signed from Belgian side Genk last January, Leon Bailly started off slowly for Leverksuen. However this season has been a breakout one for him. With electric pace and mazy dribbling, Bailly is nigh on impossible to tackle and often leaves defenders in a tizz. His sparkling form has attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, so we could soon see him in much closer proximity. For now though it is clear that Heiko Herrlich has a gem on his hands which could propel his side into the Champions League.
Team of the season – Schalke
As mentioned earlier, Schalke have not had the best of times in recent years. They haven’t played in Europe since 2014/15 and a string of poor managerial appointments have contributed to a fall from grace somewhat. However the introduction of Domenico Tedesco and the goals of Guido Burgstaller see sitting in second place in the table. They have also discovered a backbone which has seen them often recover from perilous positions this season (see ‘game of the season’ as an example). Schalke look like they’re back and that could mean trouble for the rest of the Bundesliga.
Underachievers – Borussia Dortmund
I don’t want to go on about this too much but it goes without saying that a side the calibre of Borussia Dortmund should have more than 28 points. Dortmunds dismal spell between September and December has contributed to a chasm of 13 points between ourselves and Bayern Munich at the summit. Dortmund played some suicidal stuff under Peter Bosz but look much more solid under the stewardship of Peter Stoeger, and may have just turned a corner.
The rest of the campaign
The second half of the 2017/18 season is due to kick off on the 12th January and it is obvious that some sides in much desperate need of improvement. Cologne currently sit rock bottom and only gained their first win of the season on match day 16. Stefan Ruthenbeck replaced Peter Stoeger and looks to have instilled some much needed character into his players. However they have given themselves a big task and still have not replaced Anthony Modeste, which will be top of the task list in the transfer window. Werder Bremen also find themselves languishing in the relegation places, although they have carried out a mini-resurgence of late. They are much better placed to avoid the drop than Cologne are and may just make it at the expense of Hamburg. Markus Gisdol’s side have been flirting with relegation for a few years now and this could be the season they fail to pull off their annual escape trick.
At the other end of the table there are a couple of teams who are fighting to get into Europe. Augsburg have been quietly impressive this season and are in contention for a another foray into continental football. Driven on by the goals of Alfred Finnbogason, who already has 11 this season, they look they could break into the top six with a decent run of results. The Champions League places are nicely bunched up, with any three from Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Leipzig, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt joining probable champions Bayern Munich in Europe’s premier club competition next season. Keep an eye on Frankfurt. Under the shrewd management of Niko Kovac, Eintracht have played extremely well this season and can still break into the top four. They’re certainly the neutrals pick.