Bundesliga at the Break – Who’s Where?

The German Bundesliga is currently in the middle of the traditional winter break, which has been prolonged this season as a result of the first World Cup to be held outside of the Northern Hemisphere Summer. Top-flight action paused in Germany on November 13th, with no games for over two months until the Bundesliga finally returns on January 20th, as RB Leipzig host Bayern Munich. We’ll work our way down the table, starting with the current leaders before ending with the favourites for relegation.

1. Bayern Munich – 34pts

Bayern once again find themselves in a very familiar position, and having won the 10 consecutive Bundesliga titles, they’re in pole position to add an 11th. A shaky start to the season saw the club held to a draw by the likes of Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin and Stuttgart, before a shock defeat to Augsburg who currently sit in 14th. However, Julian Nagelsmann’s side have been able to pick up the pace – and the goals are flowing for die Roten, who scored 24 goals in their last six games before the break. Jamal Musiala has arguably been their best player so far, with the German attacking midfielder racking up 9 goals and 6 assists in the league to date.

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2. SC Freiburg – 30pts

Freiburg’s season started off well, winning four of their opening five games – the loss coming against Borussia Dortmund. The club have never won the Bundesliga, but find themselves just four points behind the league leaders after fifteen games. They’ve already played Bayern and Union Berlin – though they still need to play Frankfurt and Leipzig twice, which could topple their hopes of pulling off one of the greatest upsets in Bundesliga history. Austrian forward Michael Gregoritsch has scored six of the team’s 25 league goals this season, and his contribution to Christian Streich’s side cannot be understated.

3. RB Leipzig – 28pts

RB Leipzig’s season has been an interesting one so far. Marco Rose’s squad opened their campaign with draws against Stuttgart and Köln, before falling to a 2-1 defeat against Union Berlin. Since then, their form has been inconsistent, but they find themselves in third thanks to scoring an average of 2 goals per game – most of which come through Christopher Nkunku, who has scored 12 of the team’s 30 Bundesliga goals and is currently the league’s top goalscorer. Just three points separate the team from sixth-placed Borussia Dortmund, so consistency is key moving forwards to prevent tumbling down the table.

4. Eintracht Frankfurt – 27pts

Frankfurt are on track to surpass their 2021/22 points total, as they’re only 15 points away with 19 games left to play. Arguably the most influential player for die Adler so far this season has been Randal Kolo-Muani – with the Frenchman racking up five goals and nine assists so far, leading to his inclusion in the French World Cup squad. The season didn’t start as Frankfurt fans might have hoped, with a 6-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on the opening day followed by two 1-1 draws – but the Eagles are on track to improve on their 11th place finish last season, and are in contention for a spot in Europe’s elite competition.

5. Union Berlin – 27pts

Union Berlin have been the shock of the Bundesliga season, in my opinion. They finished 5th last season, twenty points behind the champions Bayern Munich – but this season, they were at the top of the league for quite some time! The Berlin side secured wins against RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, and managed to hold Bayern to a 1-1 draw. However, recent performances have slipped and die Eisernen have suffered heavy defeats to the likes of Bayer Leverkusen and SC Freiburg, meaning they now find themselves in fifth. Sheraldo Becker is the club’s top goalscorer with a respectable seven goals so far.

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6. Borussia Dortmund – 25pts

Die Borussen finished second last season, eight points behind longstanding rivals Bayern Munich. Just fifteen games into this campaign, Dortmund find themselves nine points adrift of the league leaders – a gap that will be almost impossible to close. Edin Terzic’s men secured four wins from their opening five games, but recently der BVB have struggled to find consistent form and that’s resulted in them plummeting down the table into the Europa Conference League Qualifier spot. Youssoufa Moukoko has been the standout player so far, registering six league goals and three assists.

7. VfL Wolfsburg – 23pts

VfL Wolfsburg haven’t lost a game since September 18th, and on recent form they’d be challenging Bayern for the top spot. However, losing 4 of their opening 7 games negatively impacted die Weißgrünen’s season. They’re still in contention for Europe though, and sit just four points off Union Berlin who currently occupy the Europa League spot. There hasn’t really been a standout player for this Wolfsburg outfit which has really performed as a unit, but if I had to single out one star, it would be Paulo Otavio with four assists from left-back.

8. Borussia Mönchengladbach – 22pts

It’s been a positive start to the season for die Fohlen, who finished 10th last season. Daniel Farke’s return to Germany after a spell at Norwich has been fairly successful so far, with his Borussia Mönchengladbach side picking up a respectable eight points from their opening four games, including a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich. Despite a few losses between that point and the winter break, die Fohlen managed a convincing 4-2 win over Dortmund in the final game before the World Cup – and they’ll hope that they can carry that momentum into the New Year. Marcus Thuram has 10 goals in the league so far – without him, it could have been an entirely different situation.

9. Werder Bremen – 21pts

Werder Bremen sit in ninth position after fifteen games, having collected 21 points along the way. Ole Werner’s side have relied on Niclas Füllkrug, who has scored 10 of die Werderaner’s 25 league goals. A late win against Borussia Dortmund has been the highlight of the season for Werder Bremen, who were 2-0 down in the 88th minute but scored three goals in quick succession to emerge with all three points. Another late goal from Füllkrug saw them edge past Hoffenheim, with his penalty in the 87th minute giving the team a 2-1 win.

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10. Mainz 05 – 19pts

The season started strongly for die Nullfünfer, but a drop-off in form has seen their league position plummet. Highlights of the season so far have included a 5-0 win over Köln, which featured five different goalscorers! Onisiwo and Ingvartsen are the club’s joint top scorers – each responsible for 4 of the team’s 19 league goals. The Karnevalsverein face a trip to Stuttgart on January 21st, before they host Dortmund four days later. Wins in both of those games could see Mainz progress up the table – potentially going level on points with die Borussen.

11. TSG Hoffenheim – 18pts

Hoffenheim are the only team in the league with a goal difference of 0, and that’s what’s keeping them ahead of Bayer Leverkusen who are level on points. One of Andre Breitenreiter’s side’s five wins this season came against Leverkusen, as der Blau cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win thanks to goals from Baumgartner, Kramaric and Rutter. Munas Dabbur and Christoph Baumgartner are the club’s leading goalscorers, with four goals each in the Bundesliga. Their season resumes with a trip to the capital on January 21st, when they’ll face 5th-place Union Berlin.

12. Bayer Leverkusen 18pts

It’s been a dramatic fall from grace for Bayer Leverkusen, who finished third last season. Early elimination from the Champions League sees them drop into the Europa League Knockout Playoffs, where they’ll face AS Monaco in February. Three consecutive defeats at the start of the season meant that die Schwarzroten had their work cut out if they were to salvage anything from the season, but in all honesty, it looks as if the team’s chances of a good result this season are over. Moussa Diaby has been their leading goalscorer so far, with a respectable six goals in the Bundesliga.

13. FC Köln – 17pts

Köln’s season so far has been less than ideal. Having finished seventh last season, die Geißböcke would have been looking to replicate that – but instead they’re closer to their 16th-placed finish in the 2020/21 season. They managed a win against Borussia Dortmund, but their overall consistency hasn’t been good enough to earn a place in the top half of the table. They face Bayern Munich in their second game back, and manager Steffen Baumgart will be hoping that Florian Kainz can add to his goal tally – having already scored five in the Bundesliga this season.

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14. Augsburg – 15pts

Augsburg have won just four of their opening fifteen games, and it’s becoming clear that we’re reaching the lower end of the table now. Their wins have come against Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, Schalke and Bayern Munich – so on their day, the Fuggerstädter are good enough to topple the giants of German football. The problem for Enrico Maaßen is that his side simply don’t have their day often enough. Ermedin Demirovic is the club’s top goalscorer this season with 5 goals – narrowly edging out Florian Niederlechner who has 4 in the Bundesliga.

15. Hertha BSC – 14pts

Hertha sit just above the relegation playoff place thanks to their goal difference, which is -3. The club have won just three games this season – against Augsburg, Köln and Schalke. Sandro Schwarz’s side have scored a grand total of 19 goals, of which 7 have been scored by Belgian forward Dodi Lukebakio. Sandro Schwarz’s side needs to see major improvement, else they face the very real threat of relegation to Germany’s second tier having managed to stay up thanks to winning the playoff last season.

16. VfB Stuttgart – 14pts

It’s no surprise to see Stuttgart lingering towards the bottom of the table – they narrowly escaped the drop last season, finishing above Hertha on goal difference. Like Hertha, they’ve won just three of their fifteen Bundesliga games this season. Those wins came in games against VfL Bochum, Augsburg and Hertha – hardly elite level opposition. There’s a real danger of relegation at Stuttgart and the fans’ nervousness is palpable. Serhou Guiassy might be able to keep his side up, if he can add to his four goals so far in this campaign.

17. VfL Bochum – 13pts

VfL Bochum were promoted to the Bundesliga at the start of last season, and managed to secure a very respectable 13th-place finish. However, die Unabsteigbaren could be heading back down to the second division if their form doesn’t see an improvement soon. Thomas Letsch will be hoping that his top scorer, Philipp Hofmann, returns to Bundesliga action in fine form and can add to his goal tally, having already scored four goals this season.

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18. Schalke 04 – 9pts

Right at the bottom of the table, we find Schalke. After a poor 2020/21 season, die Königsblauen were relegated – but returned to the Bundesliga after just one year. Unfortunately, it seems like they’ll be heading straight back down, having accumulated just nine points from their opening fifteen games. Their wins came against Bochum and Mainz, but die Knappen are scoring an average of just 0.86 goals per game – meaning they’re relying on their defensive performances to edge out narrow wins. Unfortunately, their defence isn’t brilliant either – so they find themselves as favourites for relegation. Top scorers Bülter and Terodde – each with 3 goals – don’t seem like they’ll be able to keep the dream alive for Schalke, much to the disappointment of manager Thomas Reis.

I absolutely adore the Bundesliga. It’s so unbelievably unpredictable, and the relegation playoff adds another level of excitement to the final few weeks of the season. Despite Bayern’s dominance over recent years, the European spots have always been up for contention and this year, the battle is as close as ever.