By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The twists and turns of 2020.
FC Bayern München were the dominant force, not only in the Bundesliga but across Europe, in 2020. Five trophies, including the Meisterschale, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup led to star striker Robert Lewandowski being crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2020, alongside teammate Manuel Neuer who won Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper.
Bayern, aided by their superstar striker Lewandowski (Bundesliga top scorer with 17 goals), have netted a total of 39 goals in the opening 13 matches of the season. However, they haven’t had it all their own way. Bayern 04 Leverkusen and RB Leipzig are breathing down Bayern’s neck, with both teams just two points behind.
Leverkusen is having an outstanding 2020-21 season so far, registering 8 wins, 4 draws and a single loss. Before the season began, they were not widely regarded as FC Bayern’s greatest threat, yet they have earned second place with their exciting attacking football and rock solid defence (they have conceded only 12 goals so far this season, the second fewest in the league). Can they continue this great form into 2021? The race for the Meisterschale is well and truly on.
Leipzig is just behind the top two teams, having recorded the same record as Leverkusen. They have the best defence in the league, with just nine goals conceded.
After staring down the barrel of relegation not so long ago, with finishes in sixteenth place on the ladder in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season, VfL Wolfsburg have now reestablished themselves as a contender for Europe at the top end of the table. Wout Weghorst’s nine goals has them sitting in fourth place and vying for UEFA Champions League qualification.
Many of the leading teams in the Bundesliga have also impressed on the European stage. All four of the German clubs in the UEFA Champions League made it through to the round of 16 and both TSG Hoffenheim and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are through to the knock stages of the UEFA Europa League.
The most outstanding teams so far.
When looking at the Bundesliga table at the end of the year, there are two teams who really stand out in terms of their success this season: 1. FC Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart.
VfB Stuttgart’s most impressive performance was likely their whopping 5-1 win away to Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 11, with a brace from November’s Rookie of the Month Silas Wamangituka.
Wamangituka has indeed been a revelation for the newly promoted team. With seven goals and three assists, he leads Stuttgart’s goal involvement tally.
As a promoted team, Stuttgart have also beaten 1. FSV Mainz 05 (4-1), Hertha Berlin (2-0) and Werder Bremen (2-1). Their spot at seventh on the ladder to end the year is well deserved.
With their noses in front of Stuttgart, 1. FC Union Berlin sit in sixth place. In only their second ever season in the Bundesliga, Union have taken the fight to their opponents and, at the end of 2020, are on track to qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
Union has only lost two games so far – against 1. FC Augsburg on the first matchday and against Hertha Berlin in the Berlin derby (1-3).
Many will remember Union’s draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, when Union scored twice early, only to fall behind Eintracht and then came back with a stunning shot from distance by Max Kruse in the final stages of the game to save one point (3-3).
Against FC Bayern München, Union was also able to secure a point in a draw at home, even though their star player Kruse was injured (1-1).
They went one better against Borussia Dortmund in their final match for the year, securing a 2-1 win. Union’s defender Marvin Friedrich scored the winner with a well-placed header – marking his fourth goal of the season, the most of any defender league-wide. Union Berlin could not have asked for a better Christmas present.
The rise of the underdogs.
Early in the season, FC Augsburg brought home a 2-0 win against the talentpacked squad of Borussia Dortmund.
On Matchday 2, in their first game at home after being promoted to the Bundesliga, Arminia Bielefeld secured an important 1-0 victory against 1. FC Köln and on Matchday 13, they were able to beat 1. FC Schalke 04 away 1-0.
1. FC Köln were themselves also able to surprise: On Matchday 9, they defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 away at the Signal Iduna Park. On Matchday 13 they held title contenders RB Leipzig to a 0-0 draw at the Red Bull Arena.
Bundesliga youngsters make their mark.
Just in time for Christmas, Borussia Dortmund’s youngster Youssoufa Moukoko scored his first ever Bundesliga goal and became the youngest goal scorer in the league’s history.
Next to Dortmund’s wonderkid, there are many other young players who celebrated their breakthroughs and impressed beyond expectations. Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz, at only 17 years of age, has already scored twice and has four assists – earning himself accolades as "Germany’s most exciting teen".
Werder Bremen’s 19-year-old Eren Dinkci scored the winner in his Bundesliga debut with his first touch of the ball after his substitution in the last game of the year, and FC Bayern’s Jamal Musiala has already bagged three Bundesliga goals at the age of 17.
Standout individual performances.
Wataru Endo has battled for every ball at VfL Stuttgart, and won 212 duels so far this season, the most of any player in the Bundesliga.
Alphonso Davies has had an interrupted start to the season due to injury and played in just six matches so far. Yet the one Thomas Müller calls the "road-runner" has not lost any of his pace and currently has the highest top speed recorded of any player this season, at 35.94 km/h.
Giovanni Reyna, at just 18 years of age, has firmly cemented himself in the Borussia Dortmund line up. He has played every game, scored three goals and has five assists so far this season.
Hertha Berlin’s young Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha is off to a brilliant start this season, leading his team’s goal involvement tally with six goals and two assists.
Argentinian Lucas Alario has eight goals so far this season, the fifth most in the league, and has played a crucial role in Leverkusen’s success so far this season.