Title Winners: Bayern Munich (90 points)
Top Scorer: Robert Lewandowski (20 goals)
Champions League qualification: Bayern, Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen
Europa League qualification: Wolfsberg, Monchengladbach, Mainz
Relegation: Braunschweig, Nurnberg
Pre-season odds in August 2013:
Title winners – Bayern Munich @9/2, Dortmund @11/2, Leverkusen @25/1
Top four finish – Wolfsburg @6/1, Stuttgart @6/1
Favourites for relegation – Braunschweig, Augsberg, Nurnberg
Top goalscorer – Lewandowski @5/2, Kiessling @4/1, Mandzukic @6/1, Huntelaar @8/1
For many, the main story of the Bundesliga this season will be the dominance of Bayern. Their solidarity and consistency in accumulating points was relentless, and they ultimately went on to clinch the title in March – becoming the first Bundesliga side to do so. Pep Guardiola’s side continued their run of unbeaten league games to 53, at which point it finally came to an end after a 1-0 defeat to Augsberg. The following week they also lost 3-0 at home to Dortmund, which was only slight retribution for Klopp, as his team finished the season 19 points adrift, and also lost the Pokal final to Bayern in extra-time.
Its hard to pick out a main reason for Bayern’s dominance. The depth of quality they had in the squad was evident throughout and they could cover suspensions and injuries much better through rotation than other sides. Their defence was solid, with Dante, Boateng both having a good season and Alaba showing his talent also. Their midfielders, as you would expect with a Guardiola side, kept possession to an incredible degree with the philosophy of Pep obviously suiting the German champions with the technical ability proven by the players. Ribery , although only starting 18 games, was fantastic with 10 goals and 10 assists, along with Robben who also had a standout season. Bayern ended up scoring 94 goals in their 34 games – a tremendous achievement.
Dortmund struggled to keep up their form of recent seasons, their campaign being repeatedly thrown into difficulty with injuries to key players. Injury to Nevan Subotic broke up his defensive pairing with Hummels, who in turn suffered problems of his own. Sokratis was a vital replacement and ended up playing 24 games in the league, performing very well. Their defensive ‘anchors’ Sven Bender and captain Kehl were kept out for periods, along with their deep-lying playmaker and key man Ilkay Gundogan who was out for the whole season. Sahin was one huge saving grace for Klopp in central midfield; he had an excellent season. Their two wing-backs Schmelzer and Piszczek also only played around half the matches and Blaszczykowski suffering cruciate ligament damage keeping him out long-term. Their stand-out player was Marco Reus, along with Bayern-bound Lewandowski who came up with 20 league goals and I thought that Aubameyang had an impressive first season in Germany with 13 goals. Despite their injury problems and patchy form, Dortmund still looked like the next best after Bayern most of the way through the campaign.
The final Champions League places went to Schalke and Leverkusen. Schalke had a relatively poor start to the season with early losses against Wolfsburg and Hannover, put picked up their form to have a good second half of the season, beyond which point they never really looked in much doubt for a Champions League place. Conversely, Leverkusen won 9 out of their first 12 games, having a fantastic start and then just completely dropping off around Christmas and after the winter break, with only 3 wins in 14 games in the middle of the season. They looked in real danger of missing out of the Champions League all together. Only a final push, with some relatively comfortable fixtures in the remaining 5 games lead them to 4th place – 1 point ahead of Wolfsburg.
Mochengladbach, although having an impressive season, suffered a similar dip in form in the middle of the season around the winter break, going 9 games without a win. They only managed to turn things around after a huge 2-1 win at Dortmund, with Raffael proving his importance to the side after having a fantastic game. The partnership of him and Kruse was key to their season – they started all 34 games together. Wolfsburg, after a sketchy start, had a great season which ended in 5th place. They secured key victories in the middle of the season against the likes of Dortmund, Leverkusen and Mainz as well as a final day win over Monchengladbach. Their stand-out performers were probably both defensive members of the team, being Ricardo Rodriguez and Naldo. Olic, Perisic and de Bruyne being attacking notables.
A team which really impressed me this season were Mainz. They were slightly inconsistent, and went through a tough in September, but ultimately finished the campaign just inside the Europa League places in 7th, which is a fantastic achievement for them. They never really beat any of the big sides in amazing performances, but they picked up points against team around them. Choupo-Moting and Okazaki were particularly impressive going forward, along with Nicolai Muller who had a tremendous start to the campaign. It’ll be interesting to see how heavily Choupo-Moting and Okazaki will feature on the World Cup and whether or not Mainz can continue their form into next season with European football to contend with.
The fight against relegation was particularly close in the end, with neither Nurnberg or Braunschweig looking like they had the ability to stay up, but only ending up 1 point and 2 points (respectively) beneath the drop. The team above them, who narrowly avoided relegation via a tough playoff win, was Hamburg. They had a shocking season by their standards, and wouldn’t have been major candidates for the drop until their form proved otherwise in the second half of the season. Whilst Lasogga and Calhanoglu impressed me, having a good season in front of goal, it was clearly their defence which was lacking – they conceded the most goals in the Bundesliga. A quick word on Hoffenheim who only conceded 5 fewer goals, but finished 9th because of their high scoring games. Both teams to score bets in Hoffenheim games were incredibly short odds and they went on an incredible run of games with goals. All-in-all an exciting season.
Total goals: 967
Penalties scored: 64
Clean sheets: 134
Minutes per goal: Claudio Pizarro (68mins), Mario Mandzukic (112mins), P-M Lasogga (114mins), K-J Huntelaar (112mins), Anthony Modeste (136mins)
Pass completion: Toni Kroos (91.9%), Philipp Lahm (91.7%), Dante (91.5%), Tony Jantschke (90.1%), Rafinha (89.9%)
Average passes per game: Bastian Schweinsteiger (85), Philipp Lahm (79.8), Jerome Boateng (78.9), Toni Kross (75.5), Dante (75.4)
Key passes per game: Marco Reus (3), Max Kruse (2.9), Gonzalo Castro (2.6), Rafael van der Vaart (2.6), Franck Ribery (2.5)
Clean sheets: Manuel Neuer (14), Ralf Fahrmann (10), Roman Weidenfeller (10), M-A ter Stegen (9), Kevin Trapp (8)