FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Union Berlin are level on points at the top of the table, behind them three clubs are directly in wait: After the 21st matchday, the Bundesliga seems more exciting than it has been for a long time. What speaks for and against the title candidates?
Bundesliga: The current table
Bayern Munich: 43 points, goal difference 40
What speaks for Bavaria: individual quality
FC Bayern Munich undoubtedly has by far the best squad in the Bundesliga, with world-class players available in all positions – even though four potential regular players are currently injured. With Sadio Mané and Noussair Mazraoui, two of them are returning soon, which will further intensify the competition.
What speaks against Bayern: permanent unrest
Since the beginning of the second half of the season, FC Bayern has been weakening itself with the opening of various secondary theaters of war. First the fuss about Manuel Neuer’s injury, the poker for Yann Sommer as a replacement, the dismissal of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic and Neuer’s angry interview. Now, of all people, trainer Julian Nagelsmann has caused unrest with his catacomb freak after the bankruptcy against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
FC Bayern: Latest results and next matches
VfL Wolfsburg (A)
VfL Bochum (H)
Borussia M’Gladbach (A)
Union Berlin (H)
VfB Stuttgart (A)
FC Augsburg (H)
Borussia Dortmund: 43 points, goal difference 17
What speaks for BVB: home strength
With 25 points from ten games, Borussia Dortmund is the strongest club in the Bundesliga at home. The last (and so far only) defeat of this season at Signal-Iduna-Park dates from mid-August – a crazy 2:3 against Werder Bremen with three goals conceded in the final minutes. Incidentally, BVB is still undefeated at home in the Champions League. In the round of 16 first leg, they managed to win against Chelsea.
What speaks against BVB: experience from the last “title fights”
Nominally, BVB was always the most dangerous rival during FC Bayern’s ten-year championship season, becoming runners-up six times. But when Munich weakened, for example under coach Niko Kovac, BVB was never there. Key word: mentality debate. With these experiences in mind, a renewed Dortmund slump must at least be feared.
BVB: Last results and next games
SC Freiburg (H)
Werder Bremen (A)
Hertha BSC (H)
TSG Hoffenheim (A)
RB Leipzig (H)
FC Schalke 04 (A)
Union Berlin: 43 points, goal difference 11
What speaks for Union: Compactness
Union Berlin conceded 24 goals in 21 games this season, only FC Bayern has an even better defense in the Bundesliga with three less goals conceded. Coach Urs Fischer has formed a compact and, above all, largely flawless unit from his team. That may not always be particularly impressive here and there, for example in the 0-0 win against Schalke last weekend, but you can often stand up to teams that are supposedly better positioned individually.
What speaks against Union: Lack of qualitative breadth
Third place in the Bundesliga, quarter-finals in the DFB Cup, intermediate round in the Europa League – Union Berlin is still dancing at all three weddings. This is certainly lucrative for the club from a financial perspective, but less conducive to a real title fight. Despite some investments in the winter (more than ten million euros were spent on newcomers), the squad is simply not put together for a sustained triple burden. The quality of the second suit in particular is not at the highest level. If regular players get injured, it becomes problematic.
Union Berlin: Latest results and next matches
FSV Mainz 05 (H)
RB Leipzig (A)
FC Schalke 04 (H)
FC Bayern (A)
1. FC Cologne (H)
VfL Wolfsburg (A)
SC Freiburg: 40 points, goal difference 3
What speaks for Freiburg: calmness of the environment
SC Freiburg reached the 40-point mark earlier than ever and thus already achieved its goal for the season. “Never again second division”, chanted the fans after the victory in Bochum. A look at the table reveals that this year there is more to it than just staying up. But in spite of the continued high-altitude flight, nobody in Breisgau is losing their grip on the ground. “I don’t want to talk about new goals now. We’re in good shape and then we’ll talk to the team about what’s at stake,” said SC coach Christian Streich succinctly. Everything that comes now is anyway the freestyle.
What speaks against Freiburg: lousy record against direct competitors
The Freiburg team, which has worked well together for years, appears as a solid unit that is not thrown off course by setbacks. But especially in the hot phase, the direct duels with the top teams could become the decisive factor. In the previous games against the direct competition from place one to six, there was only one win (4:1 against Union Berlin). There was also a draw against Frankfurt, but there were defeats against BVB, Bayern and Leipzig, which were severe with 0:5 in Munich and 1:5 in Dortmund.
SC Freiburg: Latest results and next matches
Borussia Dortmund (A)
VfB Stuttgart (H)
VfL Bochum (A)
Bayer Leverkusen (H)
Borussia M’Gladbach (A)
TSG Hoffenheim (H)
RB Leipzig: 39 points, goal difference 17
What speaks for Leipzig: Coach Marco Rose
The success of Leipzig has a name: Marco Rose. It took a while after he took office after the 5th matchday, but the RB engine has been purring since October: There was only one defeat in four and a half months, and RB would be number one in a “Marco Rose table”.
The 46-year-old brought the “typical RB virtues” back to the Leipzig game. “You have to be very good at running, work against the ball, work with the ball. Intensity is the top priority,” said Dominik Szoboszlai, to whom Rose taught him how to defend sports picture.
What speaks against Leipzig: distractions from outside
In terms of sport, everything is going well, the squad is wide enough to continue dancing at three weddings. However, there is a threat of distraction from outside: the strict rejection of the artificial product turf ball by many fans makes every away game twice as hot, plus the recurring hostilities against managing director Max Eberl. It’s also possible that one or the other player is already thinking about his new club at the end of the season (Konrad Laimer, Christopher Nkunku, …).
What speaks for Frankfurt: euphoria in the environment
There has been an excellent atmosphere in and around the club in Frankfurt not only since winning the Europa League final. Even with unfortunate performances, the fans inevitably whip their team forward, so home games of the SBU in particular become a thankless task for every opponent. There is no pressure to win a title: “In the end, if you have between 50 and 55 points, you are usually on the road internationally, if you have over 60 points, you are in the Champions League. When we get which points is up to us,” said coach Oliver Glasner recently.
What speaks against Frankfurt: distraction by transfer rumors
Randal Kolo Muani, the current top scorer in the Bundesliga, wears the Frankfurt Eintracht jersey. Word has gotten around that half of Europe is fighting for the services of the 24-year-old. In addition, other top performers such as Jesper Lindström, Daichi Kamada or Evan N’Dicka are associated with top clubs. An imminent sell-out next summer can bring unnecessary unrest to the club in the crucial phase of the season.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Latest results and next matches