The 2. Bundesliga definitely doesn’t have the best players in the world. It doesn’t have the best players in Germany for that matter. But the 2. Bundesliga remains in my opinion the most competitive league in Europe. It is simply insane how close all the teams are to each other. For reference, the difference between champions Schalke 04 (65) and 5th place FC St. Pauli (57) is 8 points. In the Premier League, these positions (occupied by Manchester City and Arsenal FC) are 24 points apart, thrice the amount.
This league is something special and I thought since it’s close to home, it would be the perfect springboard to start my European season review. I will be covering the European top 6 leagues — Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, La Liga and the Primeira Liga — along with the 2. Bundesliga.
With that said, let’s begin!
18th — FC Ingolstadt
Der Kaiser: Visar Musliu (CB)
Musliu, who Ingolstadt signed in January and who had a massive effect on the play of Ingolstadt, massively improving their ball progression from the back — this effort would ultimately be futile however.
Fußballgott: Filip Bilbija (LM)
Bilbija was employed mostly out wide on the left in a 4-4-2, but sometimes played in the centre too. He was an impressive goal threat, scoring 7 times while assisting once in the league.
Der Bomber: Dennis-Yerai Eckert Ayensa (ST)
Ayensa was just okay, but in reality the entire forward line was extremely disappointing. A return of 2 goals is paltry, but combined with the 4 assists he gathered it stands a lot better than the return of his contemporaries.
Meister of the Season: Nico Antonitsch (CB)
Antonitsch was the most consistent player over the course of the season from centre back. Nothing special but you can’t really be anything special when playing at the back for the second worst defense in the league.
17th — Erzgebirge Aue
Der Kaiser: Martin Männel (GK)
Männel was pretty solid as a keeper. Shame about most of the defense ahead of him.
Fußballgott: Clemens Fandrich (CM)
Erzgebirge’s weakest area was definitely midfield, and Fandrich was definitely the most competent of the bunch. Nothing special.
Der Bomber: Dimitrij Nazarov (CAM)
Nazarov was good pushing forward in the middle, sat just behind the 9 in the 4-2-3-1, with 4 goals and 3 assists.
Meister of the Season: Dick Carlson (LB/CB)
Carlson managed to keep things quiet defensively down the left flank, often being the best defender on the pitch. He wouldn’t contribute anything substantial going forward but he was still definitely the most important figure when he played.
16th — Dynamo Dresden
Der Kaiser: Chris Löwe (GK)
Kevin Broll bailed the backline out on several occasions, but unfortunately not enough occasions to secure survival. Not through fault of his own however, he certainly held more than his own.
Fußballgott: Yannick Stark (CDM/CM)
Having to deputise in the 6 position for a lot of the season, Stark was key to the play of the entire team. He was similarly excellent when allowed to play in his natural 8 position too.
Der Bomber: Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer (ST)
Königsdörffer was not extremely productive with 5 goals and 2 assists, but it’s definitely better than the rest of his attacking unit. Well, except for one.
Meister of the Season: Christoph Daferner (CAM)
Daferner was just insane. Playing as a 10 sat behind two strikers most of the time, Daferner’s late runs were by far the biggest the goal threat in Dresden, netting him 13 goals alongside 2 assists.
15th — Jahn Regensburg
Der Kaiser: Steve Breitkreuz (CB)
Steve Breitkreuz consistently saved his defensive partners with last ditch tackles and amazing ball recoveries on the last line.
Fußballgott: Benedikt Gimber (CDM)
Benedikt Gimber played as the 6 in a double pivot, and was key to progressing the ball from deep and screened the backline flawlessly too. Shame him and Breitkreuz couldn’t plug all the holes.
Der Bomber: Jan-Niklas Beste (RM/CAM)
Honourable mention to Bayern Munich alumni Sarpreet Singh who did actually have better numbers from the 10 position in Regensburg’s 4-2-3-1 system (5 goals and 8 assists). Beste played as the right winger in this system, and was excellent in one-vs-one situations, something that he had perfected in earlier seasons playing at left back. 4 goals and 5 assists is an impressive return.
Meister of the Season: Andreas Albers (ST)
Albers was by far the best player in the team, scoring 9 and assisting 3 while playing up front.
14th — SV Sandhausen
Der Kaiser: Patrick Drewes (GK)
Bailed the defense out on multiple occasions with great saves.
Fußballgott: Tom Trybull (CDM/CM)
Hey, look, look. I know Trybull only played 13 games. But come on. He was so good. A great hybrid of the 6 and 8 roles, progressing the ball both in his own half and in the opposition half.
Der Bomber: Pascal Testroet (ST)
Testroet wasn’t very pivotal to the build up of the team or even heavily involved in the link up in the final third, but he became a very good poacher, scoring 10 goals and assisting once.
Meister of the Season: Aleksandr Zhirov (CB)
Zhirov was the ace in the hole of Sandhausen’s defense, consistently keeping attackers at bay purely through positional smarts rather than flashy tackles, although he definitely wouldn’t hesitate to pull them out of the bag when needed.
13th — Hansa Rostock
Der Kaiser: Ryan Malone (CB)
Malone has inducted himself among the unit of high quality American players in the Bundesliga, with consistent performances throughout the season.
Fußballgott: Lukas Fröde (CDM/CM)
While he was forced to play as an 8 in a few games, in most games he was employed as a 6 and did ever so well, functioning as the fulcrum of attack switching sides or assisting overloads while giving attackers a safe option at all times.
Der Bomber: Hanno Behrens (CAM/CM)
Behrens was productive as the 10 in a 4-2-3-1, scoring 5 and assisting 4.
Meister of the Season: John Verhoek (ST)
Verhoek was the most important player in the team, being the target man of the system but using his hold-up play to play others into dangerous areas. 17 goals and an assist is a very good return.
12th — Karlsruher SC
Der Kaiser: Philipp Heise (LB)
Marco Thiede was definitely the best player purely on a defensive basis at Karlsruher, but I have to give Heise this spot for his 10 assists going forward.
Fußballgott: Marvin Wanitzek (CM/CAM)
Functioning nearly as a second striker pushing just beyond his partner in midfield Jérôme Gondorf, Wanitzek scored 9 and assisted 7.
Der Bomber: Kyoung-Rok Choi (RM/CAM)
Choi was dangerous cutting in from the right flank, often linking up with Marco Thiede. A return of 5 goals and an assist is not out of this world by any means but in terms of attack the options were slim since there was really only one man up front.
Meister of the Match: Philipp Hofmann (ST)
And here is that man. Hoffmann set the league alight with 19, count ‘em, NINETEEN goals to add to his 2 assists.
11th — Hannover 96
Der Kaiser: Julian Börner (CB)
Börner was one half of an excellent centre back partnership, being the more ball-playing of the two.
Fußballgott: Gaël Ondoua (CDM)
Midfield was Hannover’s weakness, but Ondoua was the least weak of the unit, playing as the more defensive in a double pivot.
Der Bomber: Sebastien Kerk (CAM)
Kerk was definitely the best of the attackers, scoring 9 and assisting 4 from the middle of the creative unit.
Meister of the Match: Marcel Franke (CB)
The other of the starting centre backs, Franke was the more defensively inclined, making key blocks and tackles while sitting deeper when the team built up play.
10th — Fortuna Dusseldorf
Der Kaiser: Matthias Zimmerman (RB)
Zimmerman was excellent defensively but also shined going forward with 3 goals and an assist.
Fußballgott: Ao Tanaka (CM/CDM)
Tanaka showed his ability to both screen and press, knowing exactly how to best position himself and react to situations in the middle, especially later in games when he would come off the bench.
Der Bomber: Rouwen Hennings (ST)
I wasn’t particularly impressed by Hennings, even if his return of 13 goals and an assists is certainly above average. He was still the best attacker though.
Meister of the Season: Khaled Narey (RM/RB)
Narey was simply fantastic, being able to change his approach to a game at any time to adapt to different defensive setups. Cutting in, he scored 8 goals. Staying wide, he amassed 14 assists. A truly exciting player.
That does it for the bottom half of the 2. Bundesliga table. What do you guys think? Are there any omissions you would call out? Let us know in the forum below.