Need to Know: The Bundesliga Returns!

The 2019-20 Bundesliga season is set to resume this Saturday, May 16, pickig up with Matchday 26. With 25 rounds already played, nine remain to get to the conclusion of what has been an eventful season.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of the league or a newcomer excited for the return of live, top-flight football, read on for recapitulation of . . .

Title Race

While FC Bayern München have won seven consecutive Bundesliga, last season signalled changing times in the German top-flight. The title race went down to the final day of the season, punctuating a captivating campaign which saw Borussia Dortmund lead by as many as nine points in January.

Fast-forward to the coming weekend and even more teams have joined the hunt for FC Bayern’s long-term hold on top spot.

Jadon Sancho from November’s edition of “Der Klassiker” (Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images)

Dortmund currently are second, trailing their “Der Klassiker” rivals by four points. Just three points
separate RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in table rungs three, four, and five, respectively.

With 27 points still on the table for each club, there are sure to be several twists and
turns before a champion is crowned, particularly considering the number of showdowns between top sides remaining on the schedule.

Bayern still must face three of their four closest pursuers before the season wraps. The defending champions must yet travel to both Dortmund and Leverkusen and host Mönchengladbach. The Bavarians suffered back-to-back defeats to Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen in the first half of the season.

Meanwhile, Leipzig will host Dortmund on the season’s penultimate weekend.

Push for Europe

With a gap of ten points already separating fifth place (Leverkusen) from sixth (FC Schalke 04), the four UEFA Champions League qualification spots appear to be a five-club race. The battle for sixth place and the final UEFA Europa League qualification spot in sixth (and the potential additional spot for seventh-place, dependent on the winner of the DFB Cup) is still very much WIDE open.

Just seven points separate the Royal Blues in sixth and Bundesliga first-timers Union Berlin in eleventh, with Eintracht Frankfurt – who have a game in hand to play
against 17th-placed SV Werder Bremen due to a postponement – and Hertha Berlin only two points
further back. With so few points between them and so many still left to play for, the battle for European places will surely play out in dramatic fashion.

The teams in the thick of the battle are FC Schalke, VfL Wolfsburg, SC Freiburg,
TSG Hoffenheim, 1. FC Köln, and Union Berlin. The latter pair both having been promoted
to the Bundesliga this season adds yet another story line to the matter, while Schalke are bouncing back from a disappointing mid-table finish last season.

Battle against Relegation

Some of the teams pushing towards Europe will need to beware of what’s happening with teams below them in the table, as the drop into a late relegation battle awaiting mid-table clubs who get a slow start to the return to action.

As things stand, Paderborn are ten points adrift of safety at the table bottom, with Werder Bremen two points ahead of them in the other automatic-relegation spot. Fortuna Düsseldorf currently holds the relegation play-off spot of 16th, with a four-point edge on Werder.

1. FSV Mainz 05 is four points clear of the relegation zone in 15th. FC Augsburg has just one point of clearance to Mainz, while Hertha Berlin, and Eintracht Frankfurt are level on points with one more than Augsburg, making the situation between the middle of the table and the fringe of the relegation zone a constantly changing affair.

For teams at the bottom, having an in-form goal-scorer can be the difference between earning points or being left empty-handed this late in a season.

Promoted Paderborn have come unlucky there, with top scorer Streli Mamba ruled
out for the rest of the season. While Werder, Fortuna, and Mainz all banking on their own reliable threats in Milot Rashica, Rouwen Hennings, Robin Quaison, respectively. Each club’s bid for survival could come down to which of those players is most-clinical in front of goal over the final nine games of the campaign.

Young Stars

The Bundesliga remains the undisputed home of football’s next biggest stars, and
some of them have already secured their status during the 2019-20 season. The four biggest successes being Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Alphonso Davies (Bayern), Timo Werner (Leipzig), and Kai Havertz (Leverkusen), all of whom have been performing at an elite level this season, despite their tender years.

Sancho’s team-high 14 goals and 15 assists mean he has contributed to more goals this season than any other player in the league, including 25-goal top scorer Robert Lewandowski. Werner is one goal shy of a personal record in the Bundesliga with 21 so far. Havertz has picked up where he left off last season, when he scored 17 goals, having contributed six goals and five assists so far this season.

Davies has perhaps been the Bundesliga’s biggest surprise this season. The Canadian newcomer not came to Bayern’s aid when defensive injuries created a need at left-back. It will be a near-impossible decision for Hansi Flick to make when the likes of Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle are back to full fitness as to whether Davies keeps his position.

Unsung Heroes

Much like the wonder kids of the Bundesliga, there are a host of players whose
hard work may not have been celebrated as much in the headlines as they
deserve, whether it’s the tireless defensive midfielders, dominant center-backs, or those
play-makers who get more passes leading to an assist than actual assists. Before the
season gets back underway, make sure you know to watch out for the players
doing the dirty work.

Take Konrad Laimer at Leipzig for example, who has been one of the best performers this term. The 22-year-old Austrian defensive midfielder is already in his third full season in the Bundesliga and is stamping his authority on every game. No midfielder has won more challenges than his 286.

Konrad Laimer (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images)

Paderborn’s Sebastian Vasiliadis, however,  shares the same total and is very much of the same ilk – a tireless ball-winning midfielder. Only four players have covered more distance in 2019-20 than
Paderborn’s 22-year-old.

One of the main reasons Union have been able to stay clear of a relegation battle so far this season is their striker Sebastian Andersson. The Sweden international has eleven goals this season – six of those coming with his head, which is more than any player across Europe’s top five leagues – and five of his goals have been assisted by the Bundesliga’s set-piece king Christopher Trimmel. Union’s 33-year-old right-back and captain has seven assists in total, the most for an out-and-out

Sebastian Andersson (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images)

There are so many more out there among the Bundesliga’s array of
players, so keep your eyes out for those doing the hard yards to get their side
crucial points in the business end of this season.

About Randall Hauk 19 Articles
Just a guy who got caught up in something fun.