Opinion: Bundesliga sheds boring tag

Christmas has come early for German football fans. With just three games left before the winter break, the top seven teams in the league are in the running for the title race. Just seven points separate them! And this in a league that has suffered from a lack of competitiveness in recent seasons.

So far, the 2019-20 Bundesliga season has been entertaining, dramatic and exciting. That is not to say it hasn’t been that in the recent past, but the difference this year is that it’s happening at the top of the table. The most avid fan will be interested in Werder Bremen’s struggles or Union Berlin’s story, but a title race is a much easier sell.

Few would have predicted that Gladbach, under new head coach Marco Rose, would be seven points clear of Bayern in early December. Thanks to a last-minute penalty from the club’s newly-signed Algerian leftback Ramy Bensebaini after Javi Martinez’s poorly-timed tackle saw him sent off, that’s exactly where Gladach are — top of the Bundesliga.

And this year, the league leaders are not where the story stops. Leipzig have been taken to even loftier heights under Julian Nagelsmann, Borussia Dortmund are as unpredictable as ever, delivering more twists and turns in a season than Game of Thrones. Schalke have employed a former Dortmund youth head coach in David Wagner and the early signs are good, but if Forrest Gump’s famous “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” mantra was ever to apply to a football team it would still be the Royal Blues.

Deutsche Welle Englisch Fußball Jonathan Harding

DW’s Jonathan Harding

Then there’s Freiburg, who under the wise guidance of Christian Streich continue to upset the odds and the opposition, putting themselves in the mix. Even if their rise is unlikely to last all season, it adds another layer of excitement to this Bundesliga campaign.

And all of this without even really considering the defending champions. Bayern Munich have sacked their head coach, found the best possible assistant to be interim and after a strong start have suddenly been short of the one thing that forever seemed on their side: luck.

The combination of all of this is a completely bombastic and unpredictable Bundesliga season. There will inevitably be questions about the drop in quality that has played a role in the increased competitiveness in the league, but that would be to willingly look for a negative at a time when the positive deserves its moment in the sun.

This league, one striking the balance between being a stage for stars and developing talents, is so much fun to watch.

And all of this, without the 50+1 rule being abolished. Not bad for a boring Bundesliga.

  • Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund - Fortuna Düsseldorf (Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Rose)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Borussia Dortmund 5-0 Fortuna Düsseldorf

    Playing all in black in a special “steel and coal” jersey dedicated to the city’s mining heritage, Lucien Favre’s Dortmund dug deep to deliver precisely the performance they needed. Fortuna Düsseldorf made life rather easy for them though, sitting deep all game, and eventually capitulating as the second half turned into a rout. Jadon Sancho scored twice, set one up, and had another disallowed.

  • 1. Bundesliga | Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Bayern München | Torjubel (2:1) (Reuters/R. Orlowski)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 Bayern Munich

    The league leaders stay top of the table, and consign Bayern Munich to seventh place in the Bundesliga. Left back Ramy Bensebaini scored both of Gladbach’s goals, the winner being a late penalty. Bayern had more of the ball and probably the better of the chances, but maybe the writing was on the wall when Robert Lewandowski couldn’t find the target for a third weekend in the Bundesliga.

  • Bundesliga RB Leipzig gegen TSG Hoffenheim (Getty Images/AFP/O. Andersen)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    RB Leipzig 3-1 Hoffenheim

    Julian Nagelsmann got the better of his old club, retaining second spot in the table. Until Gladbach’s late winner, they were set to take the lead outright. Timo Werner’s exceptional scoring run endures, as he netted twice to reach 15 in 14 Bundesliga games this season. He’s laid on another five for good measure.

  • 1. Bundesliga | Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Schalke 04 | Torjubel (1:0) (Getty Images/Bongarts/C. Koepsel)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Schalke

    Lucas Alario scored both of Leverkusen’s goals as the Werkself extended their impressive run of form to three wins and a draw in their last four in the Bundesliga. They move up to sixth in the process, also drawing level on points with Schalke. The Royal Blues netted late to keep their hosts honest, but couldn’t snatch a point.

  • 1. Bundesliga | SC Freiburg vs VfL Wolfsburg | Torjubel (1:0) (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Seeger)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Freiburg 1-0 Wolfsburg

    When you play Freiburg, try never to foul. For a second consecutive week, Jonathan Schmid scored a peachy free kick with his cultured right boot. This time, though, the Strasbourg sharpshooter’s efforts secured three points for his team. Freiburg now have an impressive 25 points. Almost out of the relegation fight, months ahead of schedule, when do they graduate into genuine European hopefuls?

  • Fußball Bundesliga FC Augsburg - Mainz 05 (Bongarts/Getty Images)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Augsburg 2-1 Mainz

    Mainz took the early lead in the north of Bavaria, only for Augsburg to draw level before the break. Marco Richter missed an open goal before later converting from close range. In the second period, Florian Niederlechner converted a penalty won by Ruben Vargas to bag the points for the hosts. Augsburg leapfrog Mainz in the table in the process and now have 17 points to Mainz’s 15.

  • Fußball Bundesliga 14. Spieltag | Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha BSC | TOR Hertha (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Scheuber)

    Bundesliga Matchday 14: In pictures

    Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Hertha Berlin

    Jürgen Klinsmann looked set for a first win after his big move to the German capital when Hertha took a 2-0 lead against the hosts only to cede it in the last half hour. Frankfurt may feel hard done by too, given a disallowed goal and several late chances to pinch all three points. Hertha and Klinsi have a tough December in store with games against Freiburg, Leverkusen and Gladach.

    Author: Mark Hallam


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