After 10 pulsating and high-scoring rounds of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich sit atop the table once more, with the group of usual suspects below them occupying the remaining European places.
Outside90’s David Jordan takes a look at where each club sits in the race for a continental spot, all seeking to prove their competition credentials.
Bayern Munich – 10 matches, 10 wins and unfortunately the Bundesliga heavyweights are marching on to yet another title and another season in the Champions League. Robert Lewandowski has 13 domestic goals, equal top, and it appears that there is no stopping the Bavarian Giants once more. A German Champions League staple.
Borussia Dortmund – Thomas Tuchel’s energetic side are making a valiant lead of the chasing pack and given their form this season, they would catch any other team at the top. However, it is Bayern they are chasing and this race is now for second place and Champions League football. So far, Dortmund have looked every bit like the old BVB, with their pace up front making defending them a task for anyone. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is equal with Robert Lewandowski as Bundesliga top scorer (13 Goals), while Shinji Kagawa, Marco Reus and Henrik Mhikitaryan have led the midfield behind him with aplomb. At the back Mats Hummels has been the leader that the side so desperately needed last season.
So far, they are the best of the chasing pack, although yet to face any of the below-listed competitors for European spots bar Bayern, who pummeled them with five goals a number of weeks ago and Borussia Monchengladbach. In round one they started brilliantly against the Foals, who are surging back into contention, with a 4-0 win to kick-off the season.
After a year out, you can expect them to be right back into the Champions League next season, barring a disastrous turn of form or a typical Dortmund injury crisis.
FC Schalke 04 – Last season’s sixth place finishers occupy third on the ladder after 10 matches, but are struggling to rest easy after being soundly beaten by rivals Borussia Monchengladbach this past weekend. Andre Breitenreiter’s team will now be without €12million midfielder Johannes Geis following his horror tackle on Andre Hahn in that match. The loss was their second in two matches against a potential rival for European football, with a 3-0 defeat away at Wolfsburg in week three an early setback for the side. A key run of games awaits them following this week’s visit of Ingolstadt, with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen their next three league matches following. That phase may well begin to show their true mettle in chasing down the upper-echelons of the table, with Breitenreiter’s management likely to face a massive test. Their second loss to Gladbach over the space of four days in the cup this week has compounded their woes, and fans will be hoping for a break of form if they really are to make a case for the top tier of Europe.
VfL Wolfsburg – Wolfsburg were further humbled by a 3-1 defeat to Bayern in the Deutsher-Pokal during this week, after their 5-1 thrashing at the Bavarians’ hands earlier in the league. The Green Machine has been knocked down a few pegs to fourth thus far, after their gallant second place finish last season. The loss of Kevin De Bruyne has undoubtedly hurt, despite the addition of Julian Draxler and they have yet to fully regain their rhythm. The only other loss in the league was to European rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and they breezed past Schalke earlier in the campaign. Questions remain about their ability to compete on all fronts with squad depth and how far they go in Europe this time out may well affect what edition of continental football they feature in next season.
Hertha Berlin – Hertha are in this list as a bit of a rank outsider, sitting pretty in fifth after a strong 10-game stretch to begin the season. While they have only lost three thus far, all of those have been to teams that currently sit above them and they are still yet to play Bayern Munich, Leverkusen and Monchengladbach. Having finished just one spot outside the relegation playoffs last season, it is a bit of a surprise to see them sitting this high up and expect to see Pal Dardai’s side falling as they progress further through the year.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen – One of the most entertaining sides in the league so far this season, their brilliant 4-3 comeback win last time out over Stuttgart sat Bayer in sixth place after 10 showings. As they head into a six-match stretch featuring Wolfsburg, Schalke and Gladbach, having already lost to competitors Dortmund and Bayern, Roger Schmidt will likely encourage his team to tighten up a bit – knowing that it can now be harder to score as many as they have previously against those sides.
After popping six past Viktoria Koln in the cup this morning they will be in high spirits going forward and will be looking to continue this six-match unbeaten domestic run. Wolfsburg this weekend will be tough, especially away, but it is against the clubs around them that they need to prove their mettle for Europe.
Borussia Monchengladbach – Besides Bayern, who have won every match, Gladbach remain one of only two sides to have not drawn a league match this season – their form guide an example of an incredible turnaround. Die Fohlen started the season with five straight losses, prompting then manager and fan favourite Lucien Favre to resign, and under-23’s coach Andre Schubert to take over, initially only temporarily. Five league matches later, the club are on a five match win streak and sitting in seventh place with wins over European rivals in the bag. Most recently, this past weekend they disposed of the aforementioned Schalke at home and then away in the cup during the week.
The loss of Andre Hahn to injury in that match will have dampened spirits, but their run of form inspires confidence. This weekend they travel to Berlin to face Hertha, and can really begin to reinforce their credentials and show their third place last season was no fluke.