Bundesliga Winterpause: New Expectations


The Bundesliga is in the Winterpause, or winter break for general reference. Much has happened this season and at the halfway point, let’s consider the sheer possibilities that are to happen in the Bundeslgia in the spring half of the season, the Ruckrunde.

Fall Surprises

Eintracht Frankfurt had lost a lot in the off-season. They had won the DFB Pokal, but with the addition of six midweek Europa League matches coupled with the loss of the manager in Niko Kovac; loss of key players in Kevin-Prince Boateng, Lukas Hradecky, Marius Wolf, Omar Mascarell, and captain Alex Meier; things were going to be difficult.

In came attack-minded Adi Hutter and the threat of Ante Rebic along with new signings of many other players to possibly help when the matches come thick and fast.

The start was rather bad. Exit in the first round to a fourth tier team in the Pokal. Devastating defeat to Bayern Munich in the Super Cup was hard to deal with before the season began. Then in the Bundesliga, a paltry four points from first five matches meant things were starting to get hairy early on.

Players then received a boost as in the first couple of Europa League matches against Marseille and Lazio and then in October things kicked on. In the Bundesliga, the club managed 19 points from a possible 21 while winning each Europa League match in front of boisterous fans who followed the team home and away.

Attacking thrust came in the form of the three buffaloes Sebastian Haller, Ante Rebic, and Luka Jovic. Thirty-four goals between the three including five for Jovic in one match showed off a vein of attack that has the Eagles vying for the Champions League while winning all six group stage matches and setting up an exciting spring for the sleeping giant.

At the other end is Schalke 04. After a 17-18 season where they finished second in the league and a spot in the Champions League, there has been an unraveling at the mining club as they’ve slumped to a disappointing 18 points in 17 matches and on the edge of the relegation zone.

Dominico Tedesco was given free reign and vastly overachieved with a style that was ugly, but with a bit of luck the club earned victories by being reactionary and defensive. With rather heightened expectations, only progression to the Champions League knockout phase is to be thought of as progression.

Losing Thilo Kehrer, Max Meyer, and Leon Goretzka have been felt massively. The fact they left on free transfers drastically hurt as much. Additions Omar Mascarell, Mark Uth, Suat Serdar, and Salif Sane have not fixed the issues that were bound to occur with the lack of goal scoring and the overall lack of players who can keep up a European campaign with a league fight when they are playing for one of the biggest of clubs.

Players of the Bundesliga

Attack: Sebastian Haller has 12 goals with 11 assists in both Bundesliga and Europe has been a sign that the player is a unique star in the Bundesliga. He had his ups and downs in the first season, but has become not just a goal scorer, but also a player who holds up the play and brings others into play. Should he leave the Eintracht, then the Eagles loss will be the gain of a club who is looking to merely progress if they give him the opportunity and patience.

Midfield: Florian Neuhaus of Borussia Monchengladbach is one of the real reasons that the Foals have had such a successful hinrude. Sitting in third is no small task when you have a rather small roster, but the 21 year old signed from Fortuna Dusseldorf has been the star who doesn’t get the limelight but perhaps his passing and dribbling have been phenomenal and has brought together Thorgan Hazard and Alassane Plea and a focused run in the Bundesliga which will be hard to disrupt.

Defense: Will Orban of RB Leipzig has been the best consistent performer in the Bundesliga out of all defenders. His concentration and aerial prowess has been on display and take him out of the Leipzig side and points are lost and things wouldn’t feel so rosy for the team in fourth in the league.

European Performance ratings by club:

Bayern Munich has been moderately successful if they were not a previous European champion. Bailed out at the end with a group win in their draw with Ajax seemed a blessing until they drew Liverpool in the knockout phase.

Schalke was handed the easiest group–a weak Russian team, a weak Turkish side, and a good Portuguese side. They still didn’t look comfortable in their group though they progressed to the knockout phase. Shame it will end there as they face Manchester City next.

Borussia Dortmund had a good start and won their group despite having Atletico Madrid in their group. They looked so dominant and there are now questions as to how far they can progress despite drawing Tottenham Hotspur next.

Hoffenheim had to again rebuild a side, but one will think that despite a bottom group finish that this club has progressed. A first time in the big European competition, they showed themselves capable of playing everyone tough and if they had made the Europa League then they’d fancy a deep run.

RB Leipzig bowed out of their tough group in the Europa League but some see this as a self sabotage to ensure that there will be only focus on the Bundesliga to ensure that they finish in the top four and the Champions League money that follows.

Bayer Leverkusen benefited from a weak group to qualify for the knockout phase. With the coaching change, there might be a more focused effort in the round of 32 against Krasnodar of Russia.

Eintracht Frankfurt won all six matches in their group and were rewarded with one of the descending Champions League opponents. Shame they drew Shaktahr Donetsk, but perhaps with their opposition on winter break that they will have an advantage of competition come the round of 32 in February.

Predictions for the Ruckrunde

Champions: Borussia Dortmund

Champions League: Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach

Europa League: Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim

Relegation: Hannover and Nurnberg

Relegation playoff: Augsburg


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