Even though Bayern Munich is at the top of the table, the Bundesliga has provided some shocks to date this year. Here are the five biggest disappointments of the 2020-2021 season:
Borussia Dortmund is…. gasp……boring
If you have watched Dortmund under Lucien Favre this season, this might not be news to you. In the three games under Edin Terzic, (Werder Bremen, Union Berlin, and Braunschweig) they were equally boring. A possession-based game with no speed led to Mats Hummels trying to speed up the team against Union Berlin with no luck. Dortmund lost that match, 2-1. Against Hertha Berlin, in a 5-2 victory, they were poor in the first half and slow as well, but, Erling Haaland saved the day. In both games against Lazio, Dortmund struggled to generate speedy attacks. The days of Dortmund generating speedy counterattacks and finishing off teams seems to be behind us at the moment, despite the season starting with so much promise, particularly a solid 3-0 win against Mönchengladbach.
Borussia Mönchengladbach can’t win games
Gladbach has rightfully earned many plaudits for qualifying out of a Champions League group most gave them little chance of coming out of (against Inter, Shakhtar and Real Madrid). They won two games against Shakhtar Donetsk in swashbuckling style! However, that being said, the struggles in the league from a team so immensely talented have shocked many. They were very lucky to get a point against Eintracht Frankfurt in a 3-3 draw; Eintracht would have seen that one out comfortably had David Abraham not been sent off and had Lars Stindl not been the best captain ever! (If you missed the match, Frankfurt led 3-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining).
They faced Hoffenheim in the previous match-day; Hoffenheim was the better side in and deserved to win. A more confident Schalke even would have possibly mounted a comeback against Gladbach when the game was tied at 1-1; it ended 4-1 of course. They only managed a 1-1 draw against Augsburg in a game in which Augsburg played with ten men for over 20 minutes. And they were well beaten by Bayer Leverkusen, 4-3; a late goal by Valentin Lazaro put a gloss on that result. Yes, Gladbach led twice but Leverkusen dominated play. Strangely enough, RB Leipzig’s 1-0 defeat came against Gladbach in one of Gladbach’s best performances of the season; Hannes Wolf, a Leipzig player on loan to Gladbach, scored the only goal.
Their problems seem to be multi-faceted; things are not coming off in the final third as beautifully as they did early on in the season. Jonas Hofmann’s absence following an injury on international duty with Germany seems to have hurt them as has Ramy Bensebaini’s absence due to Covid. Breel Embolo, as hardworking as he is, does not finish as effectively as he needs to for Gladbach to win more games. And holding on to leads is a huge problem; aside from conceding late against both Inter and Real in the Champions League, they could not hold on to leads against Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Freiburg, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Union Berlin — yes, that’s seven games.
Schalke is set to get relegated
This is not as shocking considering that Schalke didn’t win any games this year coming into this season. However, with Arsenal fighting a relegation battle in the Premier League and Schalke fighting one in the Bundesliga, this season has been spectacularly strange and harsh to some of the bigger clubs. The club fired David Wagner and hired Manuel Baum; Baum was fired and Huub Stevens, a relegation specialist one might say, was hired to see out the year. Winless, toothless and lacking any confidence whatsoever, this might be the year that yet another giant of German football goes down to the 2.Bundesliga in recent history, the other of course, being Hamburger SV.
Bruno Labbadia might be in trouble….as might Sebastian Hoeness
Hertha Berlin wanted to become a “capital club” this season; they invested accordingly in the likes of Jhon Cordoba and Matteo Guendouzi. London has several big ones such as Chelsea and Arsenal (that is debatable at the moment); Madrid has Atletico and Real; Italy has AS Roma and Lazio; the Bundesliga has……Union Berlin? Hertha Berlin is after all, the capital club languishing in fourteenth. An injury to Cordoba, their star striker, hurt them, but with Matheus Cunha and Dodi Lukebakio still around, their league position does not make sense. I, personally, have had a rough time watching them because they are seemingly set up by Bruno Labbadia to be pragmatic. They were wonderful against Bayern in a 4-3 loss; however, Bayern has the worst defensive record among the top six. Against Leverkusen, they made the game dreadful and generated close to nothing in a 0-0 draw. Similar pragmatism when in a 1-0 lead did not work against Dortmund, however. They set up in a similar manner against Gladbach which resulted in a 1-1 draw. If Hertha gets dragged into a relegation battle, Labbadia’s days could be numbered at the club.
Sebastian Hoeness, the only man to defeat the behemoth that is the best team in the world this year, FC Bayern München (it feels brilliant to write this), this season, might also be looking over his shoulder more than he would like. Hoffenheim suffered six defeats this season and had to wait until December to pick up a third win of the season following victory against Bayern on Matchday 2. They won against Gladbach as well before the winter break; however, again, if Hoffenheim ends up in a relegation fight, Hoeness could be in trouble.
The Bundesliga has a defending problem; attacks are hiding it
This last problem makes for an extremely entertaining league but is a dangerous precedent. Only one team remains in the Bundesliga at this stage which has not conceded goals in double digits: RB Leipzig. They have conceded nine to date, of which three came against Bayern. Bayern has conceded a whopping 19 goals. Yet, the teams suffer in Europe because of this. Leipzig shipped no less than five against Manchester United; Dortmund conceded three against Lazio; Gladbach conceded five to Inter over two games.
In the matches themselves, Silas Wamangituka capitalized on a horrific error by Omer Toprak when Stuttgart played Bremen to give Stuttgart the victory; Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah gifted two goals to Bayern in a top of the table clash between Bayern and Leverkusen; Bayern and Leipzig both refused to defend routine headers when the two met each other; Stuttgart took Dortmund apart in almost comical fashion in a 5-1 victory; Union Berlin made a mockery of Dortmund’s marking, scoring from corners to beat BVB, 2-1; John Anthony Brooks scored a shocking own goal when Wolfsburg played Bremen; Köln comically gifted Moussa Diaby the ball in their game against Leverkusen and Leverkusen pounced; a Lukasz Hradecky howler gifted Arminia Bielefeld a goal when Arminia played Leverkusen. There are some high-quality goals but there are so many that is the result of absolutely shocking defending!
In a way, Wolfsburg, by keeping things tight, has shown the league that quality defending can lead to a spot in the top four. All Bundesliga teams, including Bayern, have to tighten up their defenses going into the second half of the season.
So, there you have it! Let us know your thoughts below and of course, thank you for reading!