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Bundesliga 2020-2021: Top five surprises of the season so far

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Two supposed relegation contenders are taking the league by storm while one title contender is proving a striker is unnecessary.

1 FC Union vs Fortuna Dsseldorf - 2 Bundesliga
Union Berlin taking the league by storm
Photo by Mathias Renner/City-Press via Getty images

The Bundesliga has been entertaining as always and has thrown up quite a few surprises so far. Let us take a look at five of them:

Union Berlin is outperforming Hertha Berlin!

Union Berlin has been the fairy tale of this season, stealing fans’ hearts! They’re the second highest scorers in the league behind our very own Bayern Munich, rarely overawed by the opponent, picking up points against a Prussia Dortmund, Bayern and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Sadly, they lost the Berlin derby to Hertha; they were leading by a goal but an early sending off to Robert Andrich meant that there was no winning that match. They lost Max Kruse in that game to injury as well and yet, managed to create enough chances against Bayern in the following match to show why they are flying high.

Union is hard to dislike considering the closeness between the fans and the club; the fans built their stadium and donated blood to keep the club afloat a few years ago. Union is the gift that keeps on giving including fighting for the smaller teams. They let the DFL know that TV rights are not equally distributed in a banner recently, for example, which said the following: “The DFL feeds its fattest child 15 times more than it does its thinnest. For a fair distribution of TV money!” May Union Berlin last long in the Bundesliga!

VfB Stuttgart is taking the league by storm!

I will admit that I did not know who Sasa Kalajdzic, the tallest forward in the league was, before I saw Stuttgart this season. I did not know of the talents of Tanguy Coulibaly or Silas Wamangituka; they have blistering pace on the wings, height in the box and can be devastating on the counterattack. Stuttgart, supposed to be fighting for relegation is a challenge for any side, as Dortmund can attest to. And, they beat the pragmatists of the league, Hertha Berlin, 0-2! They sit seventh currently, only three points behind Borussia Dortmund in fifth.

Bayer Leverkusen is…. gasp…. second!

This post cannot occur without a mention of Bayer Leverkusen. Losing Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland should have been a blow; losing Charles Aranguiz to injury should also have been a blow. Yet, Leverkusen is playing with no abandon and might have head into the break top of the table had it not been Jonathan Tah; unfortunately, compensating for injuries to both Bender brothers proved a step too far for them in that match.

There are quite a few brilliant performances to pick from to show the strength of Leverkusen; I will pick a 4-3 win over Mönchengladbach in which they were behind twice as well as a 6-2 demolition of Nice in the Europa League as their top two games of the season. I certainly did not expect Leverkusen to play so beautifully and the midfield trio of Nadiem Amiri, Florian Wirtz and Julian Baumgartlinger to function as beautifully as it has done this season; I did not quite expect Leon Bailey to step up in the manner in which he has either. So, all things considered, the fact that Leverkusen is leading the best of the rest pack is quite surprising.

Bayern Munich has the worst defense in the top six!

I doubt anybody predicted that this would be true coming into the season. Majority of the goals came in only three games (Bayern 4-3 Hertha, Bayern 3-3 Leipzig, Hoffenheim 4-1 Bayern); however, clean sheets are incredibly rare to come by as well. The last Bundesliga side to not grab a goal against Bayern was Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of October; in fact, among the teams Bayern has already played in the league, Schalke is the only other side not to notch a goal against Bayern. I picked this as a surprise rather than a shock because of two reasons: opposition fans have hope coming into games and Bayern fans are able to witness Bayern’s incredible mentality. Behind in seven consecutive games, Bayern has not lost a single one. Now, that is the mentality of a champion! It is rare that a Bundesliga game is not entertaining for Bayern; usually the Bavarians are a goal down before the end of the first half and have to spend the remainder of the match playing catch up. Robert Lewandowski pops up here and there and takes all the points home for Bayern at the end of the day, especially if the opposition is a Bundesliga side with an unbeaten record.

RB Leipzig doesn’t need a striker anymore

When Leipzig signed Alexander Sorloth, I wondered if he would be able to fill the big shoes of Timo Werner; Leipzig missed the current Chelsea man desperately against PSG in the Champions League semifinal last season. They missed him again when they were unable to convert their chances against PSG in the Champions League in Paris and lost 1-0. Chance conversion has been a problem for them at times. However, Julian Nagelsmann has simply opted to not go with a pure striker in most games this season.

Goals have come from everywhere, most notably, from Angelino. Dani Olmo, Marcel Sabitzer, Emil Forsberg, Amadou Haidara, Christopher Nkunku, Yussuf Poulsen and many others have worked together to fill in the gap. That being said, Sorloth scored an extremely important goal for Leipzig against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, a goal without which they might have been knocked out. Leipzig has simply been quite beautiful to watch at times this season; they play with the confidence of a team looking to become Germany’s second-best side. While the principles the club has been built on are debatable, on the pitch, their work is admirable.


So, there you have it! Let us know your thoughts, and, as always, thank you for reading!