2019/20 Bundesliga Review – Part One

Bayern Munich recorded their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title but there was still plenty to play for this season. Managerial changes aplenty, teams battling for European places up until the final 90 minutes of the season and the relegation battle as entertaining as ever, all whilst a pandemic halted football.

Here’s Get German Football News‘ 2019/20 Bundesliga team-by-team season review.

Augsburg – 15th: W9, D9, L16, F45, A63, Pts36.

Augsburg finished the Hinrunde in excellent form, pulling themselves away from the bottom pack with five wins from seven in 10th place. By sheer contrast, dreadful Rückrunde form brought 10 losses and only three wins.

Luckily for FCA, two of these victories came at a vital moment in the final run of games after the forced coronavirus break and Heiko Herrlich’s introduction as new coach.

The poor form from January under Martin Schmidt had forced the board to act and replace him. Despite this, it is mainly thanks to the decent amount of points collected by his Augsburg in the first half of the season that they were not in greater trouble. Nevertheless, survival was ultimately the main aim from 2019/20, and a tenth consecutive year in the Bundesliga being ensured ought to be commended.

Season highlight – Mainz 0-1 Augsburg

Star man – It was telling that Augsburg’s poorest form came during Florian Niederlechner’s dry spell in front of goal. His 13 goals were of vital importance to the team and his goal against relegation rivals Mainz was perhaps the most imperative.

Rating – 5/10

Bayer Leverkusen- 5th: W19, D6, L9, F61, A44, Pts63.

It seems harsh to criticise Bayer Leverkusen too much following their failure to qualify for the Champions League. Peter Bosz’s men shone brightly during the Rückrunde and were particularly gathering their stride during February and March only to be forcibly halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even after this though, strong performances came and a victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach looked to have given die Werkself the advantage over their qualification rivals. As it happened, a loss to Hertha BSC cost the side and Leverkusen finished outside of a top four which admittedly looks particularly strong relative to recent years.

It is worth reminding readers that Champions League qualification could still be achieved by victory in the Europa League, but anything less will consign Bayer 04 to a campaign in Europe’s secondary competition.

Season highlight – Bayern Munich 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Star man – After a disappointing Hinrunde by his standards, young prodigy Kai Havertz was central to Leverkusen’s strong Rückrunde form. Now, the hope will be to keep him for another season.

Rating – 6/10

Bayern Munich- 1st: W26, D4, L4, F100, A32, Pts82.

A slightly below-par first half of the season for Bayern gave Bundesliga neutrals false hope of an alternative league winner. Under Niko Kovac, the Munich side seemed to be continuing the relative decline of recent years.

By contrast, under Hansi Flick, normal service has resumed. Bayern have swept aside all before them in a domineering fashion reminiscent of their peak under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola. 100 league goals were scored and 13 points separated the side from runners-up Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern Munich could justifiably be rated as Europe’s best current side and stand a high chance of winning this year’s Champions League. After the league and cup double, this would secure another historic treble.

Season highlight – Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

Star man – Bundesliga player of the season Robert Lewandowski was also the best of Bayern, scoring a remarkable 34 goals in 31 league appearances. Honourable mentions also go to the emergence of Alphonso Davies and Thomas Müller’s resurgence under Flick, as he recorded a record number of assists for a Bundesliga season (21).

Rating – 10/10

Borussia Dortmund- 2nd: W21, D6, L7, F84, A41, Pts69.

Lucien Favre’s second season as head coach of Borussia Dortmund brought a second consecutive runners-up finish, but this time with seven fewer points than last year’s 76. This left die Schwarzgelben 13 points behind Bayern compared to the much closer gap of two points in 2018/19.

With the raft of new signings this season, the lack of sufficient progress in seriously challenging Bayern was at the root of criticism. A closer look, though, and they will see that Dortmund performed extremely well during the second half of the season, winning 13 of the 17 games on offer. Below-par results in the Hinrunde coupled with Bayern’s step up in form as the season progressed ultimately left them short.

With Favre set to stay next season, he will likely be afforded less patience in his third campaign at the helm. The pressure will be on to secure the Bundesliga title this time around.

Season highlight – Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Schalke

Star man – Erling Haaland hit the ground running after his January arrival, but it was Jadon Sancho who most impressed across the whole season. 17 goals and an equal number of assists were evidence of his impact.

Rating – 6/10

Borussia Mönchengladbach- 4th: W20, D5, L9, F66, A40, Pts65.

Although Borussia Mönchengladbach were unable to sustain their title charge of the Hinrunde, a first top four finish since 2015/16 and subsequent Champions League qualification represents a great achievement for them. The club have been vindicated in their decision to replace Dieter Hecking with Marco Rose, who has this Gladbach side playing an extremely attractive brand of football.

Under Hecking, it had become something of a tradition to run out of steam towards the end of the season. Die Fohlen experienced something of a slight decline in the Rückrunde this time around, but still held their own to attain fourth.

Sporting director Max Eberl has assembled a very impressive squad. With a healthy blend of club stalwarts and young talent, it is perhaps the strongest Gladbach side for years. For this reason, the future under the stewardship of Rose and Eberl looks extremely bright. Fans can look back on the 2019/20 season with great pride.

Season highlight – Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 Bayern Munich

Star man – Error against Bayern Munich aside, it was another great season for Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer. He led the way among Bundesliga shot-stoppers with 126 saves across 2019/20.

Rating – 8/10

Eintracht Frankfurt- 9th: W13, D6, L15, F59, A60, Pts45.

A much quieter season for Eintracht this year brought a mid-table finish of ninth, but at times die Adler were perilously close to danger. Very poor mid-season form dragged the side temporarily into the relegation battle at the bottom.

The front-line additions of Bas Dost and Andre Silva initially struggled to follow the preceding act of Sebastien Haller, Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic. In the end, Silva came into his own and he played a significant role in Frankfurt’s strong finish to the season. Following resumption in play following the coronavirus break, the Portuguese striker contributed eight goals including a double in the key 4-1 win at Hertha.

Frankfurt themselves won five of the last seven matches to pull away from danger. Although paling in comparison to last year’s Europa League semi-final and seventh place finish, the club and its supporters will grudgingly accept this as a season of transition.

Season highlight – Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 Bayern Munich

Star man – Andre Silva’s exploits aside, centre-back Martin Hinteregger was the next likeliest to find the net along with Dost, scoring eight. The Austrian’s cult hero status has been confirmed with his threat at set pieces and strong defensive performances.

Rating – 5/10

Fortuna Düsseldorf- 17th: W6, D12, L16, F59, A67, Pts30.

Fortuna Düsseldorf were relegated in 17th place with only themselves to blame. They had an almost unbelievable propensity for throwing away points from winning positions. Notable examples include the 3-3 draw at home to Hertha BSC despite the half-time scoreline of 3-0, and leading 2-0 away to rivals Köln with minutes remaining only to concede twice.

Replacing Friedhelm Funkel with Uwe Rösler helped reduce the number of defeats for Fortuna, but far too many draws cost the club in the end. A less than potent attack added to the defence’s failure to close out matches was a recipe for disaster.

A large squad lacking in sufficient quality will have to be trimmed down for 2. Bundesliga, with a number of players already let go as Fortuna look to bounce straight back up.

Season highlight – Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-0 Köln

Star man – Rouwen Hennings was the main man in the Hinrunde for Fortuna with 10 goals, but he seemed less favoured by Uwe Rösler and his contributions dwindled. Loanee Erik Thommy stepped up to the plate and impressed. He looks certain to continue in the Bundesliga, be it with parent club Stuttgart or otherwise.

Rating – 2/10

Freiburg- 8th: W13, D9, L12, F48, A47, Pts48.

Freiburg maintained their very solid eighth position from the Hinrunde. This left them just short of qualifying for the Europa League, though this was no disgrace when you consider the club’s resources.

It may also be a relief for Christian Streich, whose side will manage to avoid the fixture congestion brought on by a European campaign. Without this, Freiburg should be better able to steer clear of relegation trouble next year.

They had no such worries this season, as Freiburg spent the entirety of 2019/20 in the top half. This has furthered cemented Streich as one of the Bundesliga’s most respected coaches and is testament of his ability to get the best out of a solid but unspectacular squad.

Season highlight – Freiburg 2-1 RB Leipzig

Star man – It is hard to pick from Freiburg’s many impressive performers this year. Robin Koch’s displays have seen him become a fixture in the Germany side and Nils Petersen continued to play a vital role in the team with 11 league goals.

Rating – 8/10

Hertha BSC- 10th: W11, D8, L15, F48, A59, Pts41.

Under the leadership of Pal Dardai, Hertha BSC had the reputation of being dull but stable. Well, one season and four coaches later, the reality could not be more different. Ante Covic’s inexperience was followed by turbulent spells under Jürgen Klinsmann and Alexander Nouri. Dreadful results occurred such as 4-0 and 5-0 defeats to Augsburg and Köln respectively, and some supporters began questioning whether it had been a sensible decision to part with Dardai in the first place.

It was only after the appointment of the tried and tested Bruno Labbadia that saw Hertha fulfil their full potential. Some of the performances witnessed after the coronavirus break were a joy to watch, such as the 4-0 derby win over Union Berlin.

Although performances declined in the final few matches, there is real hope that after such a rollercoaster season this year, 2020/21 under Labbadia will be a season of upward mobility and European qualification. Further investment from Lars Windhorst adds to this hope, however past experience should bring caution to the expectations of Hertha BSC fans.

Season highlight – Hertha BSC 4-0 Union Berlin

Star man – For all the expensive talents added to Hertha’s squad, Vedad Ibisevic still continues to produce the goods and act as a leader for the Berlin club. Seven goals and three assists for the 35-year-old Bosnian meant that he finished as Hertha’s top scorer.

Rating – 5/10

By Colin Moore.

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