The Bundesliga is officially over. In 2019, the title race came down to the final matchday, with Bayern clinching the title in a dominating 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. This season was far different, with Bayern clinching the title with three games remaining for closest competitors Borussia Dortmund. It might look on paper like a run-away win for Bayern, who won by a convincing thirteen points, but in reality it was far closer.
Bayern was in first place only once for the first twenty matches, and with coach Niko Kovac sacked after a 1-5 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. Enter Hans-Dieter Flick, who won a World Cup with Germany as the assistant manager to Joachim Löw, who he also teamed up with while managing Red Bull Salzburg in 2006. Flick also played as a player, splitting time between SV Sandhausen, FC Köln, and Bayern Munich. Things started shaky with Flick as manager, falling to seventh place on matchday fourteen, but Flick helped Bayern find their rhythm as they won sixteen games in a row and clinched the Bundesliga title.
Champions League (1-4)
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach
On Matchday 19, Red Bull Leipzig lost to Eintracht Frankfurt, 2-0, to shorten the gap between them and Bayern to one point. Bayern passed them the next week, and never looked back, which was the story of the season.
Bayern was great, but it was as much Leipzig and Dortmund losing the title as it was Bayern winning it. While Bayern were winning sixteen in a row, Dortmund were losing four, including losses to relegation threatened Werder Bremen and Mainz 05. In that time, RB Leipzig lost two but drew against six teams. Mönchengladbach looked good at the beginning of the season, but struggled until overtaking Bayer Leverkusen in fourth place on matchday thirty-three and confirmed a Champions League spot with a final day 2-1 victory over Hertha Berlin.
Europa League (5-7)
Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg
The first real final day drama, as Hoffenheim demolished Borussia Dortmund 4-0, overtaking Wolfsburg who lost 0-4 to Bayern Munich. That result means that Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen will qualify automatically for the Europa League, whereas Wolfsburg will have to go through the Europa League qualifiers.
Leverkusen are one of the most exciting teams in Europe, with young players like Kai Havertz, Exequiel Palacios, Moussa Diaby, Leon Bailey and Paulinho, but they slipped up near the end, losing 2-0 to Hertha Berlin and allowing Mönchengladbach to pass them.
Hoffenheim had a transitional year after losing Joelinton, Kerem Demirbay, Nico Schulz and Nadiem Amiri, but they were able to get a Europa League spot, and Wolfsburg were dependent on sixteen league goals from Dutch striker Wout Weghorst.
Top Mid-Table (8-11)
Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hertha Berlin, Union Berlin
It was a tremendously disappointing season for last year’s Europa League semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt, who finished ninth in the Bundesliga despite receiving one hundred and ten million USD in transfer funds for strikers Sebastian Haller and Luka Jovic. Despite loaning in hugely effective striker Andrè Silva from AC Milan, Eintracht looked below average all season and a ninth place finish was probably a little lucky.
Hertha Berlin were another team that spent big, bringing in Krzysztof Piatek, Lucas Tousart, Dodi Lukebakio and Matheus Cunha but finished tenth in a season when they went through four managers, including former USA men’s national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
Freiburg and Union Berlin were surprisingly good, with Freiburg being in a Europa League spot for most of the season thanks to striker Luka Waldschmidt and midfielder Vicenzo Grifo, and Union Berlin had a good first ever Bundesliga season, finishing eleventh in a season they were expected to go down. Union had flashes of brilliance, including wins over Borussia Dortmund and Mönchengladbach.
Lower Mid-Table (12-15)
Schalke 04, Mainz 05, FC Köln, Augsburg
Perhaps no team has had a more recent, cataclysmic fall from grace than Schalke 04, who finished second in the Bundesliga in the 2017/18 season but finished in fourteenth place the following year and twelfth this season. Despite having incredible young talents, such as Jonjoe Kenny and Jean-Clair Todibo (on loan from FC Barcelona), Schalke have struggled all season, including 5-0 losses to both Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig. Furthermore they are losing young goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, who has announced he will be joining Bayern Munich when his contract expires this summer. Mainz, Köln and Augsburg all finished above relegation spots but too low to record anything really noteworthy, except for an impressive Köln win streak and some good Augsburg prospects.
Relegation Zone (16-18)
Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf, FC Paderborn
In what was probably the biggest final matchday news, Werder Bremen destroyed Köln 6-1 as Fortuna Dusseldorf lost 3-0 to Union Berlin. That means that Werder Bremen, who have Liverpool target Milot Rashica on the wing, passed Dusseldorf to go to sixteenth place. In the Bundesliga, the bottom two teams automatically get relegated and the team that finishes in sixteenth place plays the team that finishes third in the German second tier, Bundesliga 2. This will either be FC Heidenheim, Stuttgart or Hamburg SV, who all have matches June 28th, 9:30 Eastern Time. Paderborn had a poor season, finishing with just twenty points and a goal differential of negative thirty-seven. Fortuna Dusseldorf had an inconsistent season that included victories over Schalke and Bremen and draws with Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig, but will be relegated to the second tier despite finishing tenth in the Bundesliga last season.
So that is my review of the Bundesliga. If you have any questions for me, a recommendation for an article, or just want to tell me that Koen Casteels clearly had a handball in the Bayern Munich vs. Wolfsburg game, please leave a comment. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!