The Football Notebook
The Bundesliga Season Review
With the Bundesliga over and done, we have taken the time to grade each team in the division and review the 19/20 season in full.
Augsburg - C
Another average season for FC Augsburg, finishing in 15th, just 5 points away from the relegation playoff position of 16th. This team is a far cry from the 14/15 season in which they finished in 5th, managing to qualify for the Europa League, but a solid spine and a side mixed with youth and experience is a sign of things to come.
A fight for the top positions is certainly quite a while away, but next season they should do much better than this one, with expected points showing that they should have finished in 10th. With a little luck in this transfer window, they can land a quality centre forward who can lead the line along with top scorer Niederlechner and can put the disappointments of these last few seasons behind them.
Bayer Leverkusen - B+
It could have been a very good season for Die Werkself, but it ended in agony as they succumbed to 5th place on the last matchday to rivals Borussia Monchengladbach. Should they hold on to star player Kai Havertz, they should have no trouble finishing in the top 4 next year, with the likes of Kevin Volland, Lucas Alario, Leon Bailey, and Moussa Diaby to support the prodigious German in attack. However, it is most likely that they lose at least 2 of their starting players, with Jonathan Tah and Leon Bailey those most linked with a move away from the BayArena, assuming Havertz is already on the way to a Premier League club.
And although this season has largely been a let-down, the signs are promising, with Leverkusen even in the race for the title for large parts of the 19/20 campaign. But this squad is a very young one, and with this one extra year under their belt, they will be that much better in 2020/21.
Bayern Munich - A+
What’s there to say? It seemed like the Bundesliga title would finally leave the firm grasp of the Bavarian club for the majority of the season, but the superclubs’ experience in winning came through at the end, as Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig both faltered after the restart. Bayern then went on to break multiple records as the campaign came to a close, Lewandowski had his best year ever at 31, and they added Leroy Sane to their ranks for less than £50M.
Not a bad way to end the season.
Borussia Dortmund - A-
Ah, Dortmund. You give us all so much hope and then always fall flat just when we need you to perform the most.
In the middle of the season, it was BVB’s title to lose.
And so they went and did it. But the ending of this year should not discourage any fans of the club.
Even with talisman Jadon Sancho seemingly already out the door, the Black and Yellow’s still have Erling Haaland, captain Marco Reus, Gio Reyna, Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and more to rely on.
Excluding Reus, these players are all still very young, and will just become better and better.
Should Dortmund keep this group of players together for the next couple seasons, they should have a very good chance of finally wrestling the title from serial-winners Bayern Munich.
Borussia Monchengladbach - A
Finally! Die Fohlen are back in the Champions League after 4 years out of Europe’s premier competition. They secured 4th place on the last day, with the aforementioned Leverkusen missing out by just 2 points.
Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea have formed a formidable partnership, and coach Marco Rose an innovative young manager looking to bring the team into a new era.
Eintracht Frankfurt - B+
Another decent season for Frankfurt, once again securing their position as a mid-table side in the German top flight.
They have a very, very good side and can push the top 6 teams next year.
The current difference between Die Adler and the top teams can be closed with some smart transfers before the start of 20/21 - although the Coronavirus Pandemic and its financial implications may have a hand in significantly reducing the spending power of the club.
Fortuna Dusseldorf - C-
After 2 seasons in the top flight, Fortuna Dusseldorf have finally dropped back down to the second division, missing out on a relegation playoff by just one point.
An all-round okay season ended with a 3-0 loss to Union Berlin condemning them to the drop.
But all is not lost, and you can expect Dusseldorf to bounce back to the Bundesliga in the 20/21 season.
Freiburg - B
Freiburg have shown consistent improvement since becoming a member of the Bundesliga, which is a good sign for any team.
Their squad is getting a bit older and will need reshuffling soon, but for now, most of the players are in their prime and can help push SC Freiburg towards the Europa League spots.
Hertha Berlin - C
Hertha Berlin should be better than they are.
A good squad. An owner willing to pour money in. A solid head coach.
But they can not seem to make it to the top of the table. Their luck will turn, and the promise that many of their performances will instil confidence into the players - bar some very poor results.
The German capital club could yet become a powerhouse of the Bundesliga.
Hoffenheim - B+
The unpredictable club owned by much-maligned owner Dietmar Hopp has done well this season, finishing in a Europa League spot on Matchday 34 with an emphatic 4-0 win over Dortmund, forward Andrej Kramaric scoring all 4 goals including a remarkable no-look penalty.
Their erratic placement in the table could be down to an ever-evolving team, but this season they have been more consistent, which could be down to forename Kramaric being superb whenever he was on the pitch.
But the team is not young, and yet another shakeup is imminent.
Koln - B-
5th in 16/17 was extremely promising, before a surprise relegation the next year as they ended rock bottom with just 22 points.
They spent 18/19 in the second division, but instantly bounced back up, and finished 19/20 in 14th.
But it will take a while for them to get back to competing for the big honours, and supporters must be patient.
Leipzig - A
The most hated team in Germany, even more so than Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig have had somewhat of a disappointing campaign.
Don’t get me wrong, 3rd place is brilliant for a side that was in Germany’s 5th division just 10 years ago, but they had the title in their grasp, and the lack of experience showed as they stumbled in the so-called ‘easier’ games towards the end of the season, ‘only’ managing to finish in 3rd.
Although the sensational Timo Werner has already left for Chelsea, brilliant manager Julian Nagelsmann - who is younger than a few players in his squad - can lead this team anywhere. They still have a very solid spine, and with parent company Red Bull’s backing along with the funds from Werner’s transfer, they could yet spend this summer to strengthen up, even with the Coronavirus affecting every clubs’ finances.
Expect them to challenge for the Champions League and Bundesliga within just a couple years.
Mainz 05 - C
Since their 6th place finish in 15/16, Mainz can not seem to escape the mediocrity of the bottom half of the table.
Despite individual quality, the club seems to lack a bit of direction - but a change of mindset could set into motion a path onto which the club climbs to the upper echelons of German football.
However, in this day and age, such changes are rare, and we don’t know where they will be in a few years.
Paderborn - D+
Paderborn were destined for relegation from the moment they celebrated automatic promotion to the Bundesliga.
They were the underdogs, but could not use it to their advantage, instead faltering to a last-place finish with only 20 points from 34 matches.
They lacked the star quality in their squad, the funds to bolster their team, and came into the Bundesliga with a second division side with second division performances.
It was inevitable that they would succumb to the drop, but with better planning and a bit of luck, they could get promoted once more and establish themselves as a proper top-flight club.
Schalke 04 - D+
Oh, Schalke. You really should be doing better.
The once-great club has mixed brilliant performances such as a 3-1 win against then title-hopefuls RB Leipzig with simply abysmal outings - a 5-0 loss to Bayern, 5-0 to Leipqiz, 4-0 to Dortmund, 4-0 to Freiburg and more.
The fans expect better, and so do the rest of the world - and they really need to get their act together, and soon.
Union Berlin - B+
11th place is very solid for a team that many expected to drop straight back to the 2. Bundesliga.
The club itself is relatively unknown outside of Germany, but should they continue on their current trajectory, this will change - and rapidly at that.
But they are in need of reinforcements, although the world pandemic has probably reduced their transfer budget to almost 0 - so we are excited to see how they handle it when 20/21 comes around.
Werder Bremen - C
Having only ever been relegated from the Bundesliga once, Bremen did well to secure a relegation playoff on the last day of the season with an astounding 6-1 win over Koln.
We all have our fingers crossed for them to win the second leg of the Relegation Playoff, having drawn the first leg 0-0, because they have an extremely exciting young squad with many talented players that would thrive in the Bundesliga after having an extra year of experience under their belt.
Wolfsburg - B-
Wolfsburg have regained some of their pride after almost getting relegated a couple of years ago, but still, have a ways to go before they reach the heights of their 08/09 and 14/15 seasons where they finished 1st and second respectively, but we have hope, and with the core of their squad all hitting their primes at the same time, fans should see Die Wolfe climb back up the table and into the top 4 soon.
So that’s it!
All 18 teams in the Bundesliga reviewed and graded.
What a whirlwind of a season they have had since it commenced on August 16. And after it has finally ended, we can all realise just how good it was.
Until next time, 👋🏼.