Bundesliga Early Season Winners and Losers
As the Bundesliga reaches matchday four, all 18 teams have been judged by fans around the world. We’ve seen some surprises early on this season, with a few teams making a shock impact around the league. However, not all of these surprises have been good ones, with a few big-name clubs struggling in the opening weeks of the new season. Now, it would be wrong to judge these teams based on just three or four fixtures, but that’s what football fans do, so here are some of the early season winners and losers.
Life under new manager Niko Kovač has been good in the opening weeks of the Bundesliga season. Top of the table heading into matchday four, Bayern are once again setting the standard. The usual suspects are doing damage, with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and midfield maestro Thiago leading Kovač’s team to the top of the table. Set to be the team to beat this season, Bayern only need one thing if they’re to fight off their rivals. Health is the key. After losing Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha to major injuries already this season, Bayern must stay healthy, with injuries potentially derailing their season.
One of this season’s biggest early season shocks has been Hertha Berlin. Finishing tenth last season, nobody saw this great start coming. Led by manager Pál Dárdai, this really is a group that plays well together. Playing as a team is one thing, but getting results is another. The emergence of three key players has played a huge role. Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein has been the best the Bundesliga has to offer so far this season, with two clean sheets in his first three games. Hertha have seen great production from two youngsters as well. Ondrej Duda has been a star man, with three goals in three games. Wing-back Valentino Lazaro has also been key, putting in three quality performances to start the season.
Picking up 10 points after four games, Hertha’s unbeaten run has been amazing, but it may not last much longer. Set to play Bayern next week, they face their toughest opponent so far.
Another surprise in the opening weeks of the new season has been Werder Bremen. After finishing 11th last season, Bremen made changes; changes that have paid off. Selling club captain Thomas Delaney in the summer, it was clear Bremen were prepared to head in a new direction. Bringing in quality replacements, Nuri Sahin and Davy Klaassen, Bremen have started the season well. In a top-four place heading into matchday four, Florian Kohfeldt’s side could be higher in the table if they hadn’t conceded late against Nürnberg on matchday three. It’s difficult to see Bremen maintaining a top-four spot, but European football is a real possibility this season.
Bottom of the table heading into matchday four, Bayer Leverkusen continue to disappoint. A squad full of talented players, headlined by Leon Bailey, Leverkusen’s start to the season has been atrocious. Scored two, conceded eight, this team is a mess. Yet to pick up a point in the league, they also have European commitments just to make recovering even harder. Heiko Herrlich’s team have the quality to jump up the table, but it won’t be easy. Set to play a confident Borussia Dortmund team on matchday six, Leverkusen will look to kick-start their season against tough opposition.
Similar to Leverkusen, last season’s runners-up, Schalke, have started the season poorly. Yet to register a point, Schalke has scored two and conceded six in what has been a terrible start to their campaign. Finishing second last season, Domenico Tedesco’s team have been a shadow of themselves, losing their opening four games of the new season. Just like Leverkusen, Schalke also have European commitments after being drawn into a tough Champions League group. Struggling defensively, Schalke look vulnerable at the back. The same goes for their attacking prowess, with forwards Breel Embolo and Mark Uth combining to score just once this season.
This team is too talented to fall into a relegation battle. However, if their form doesn’t pick up soon, European football could be out of their reach.
After a disappointing campaign last season, RB Leipzig looked set to once again challenge for a top-four spot. Runners-up two seasons ago, Leipzig have started the new season in rather average form. Sitting 13th in the table entering matchday four, Ralf Rangnick’s team have four points from three games. Starting the new season well, scoring after just 31 seconds, it’s been downhill ever since for Leipzig. Losing the season opener led to an awful home draw against newly promoted side Fortuna Düsseldorf. A Europa League loss followed, with three tough games on the way. Rangnick’s side will face Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim with their early season struggles showing no signs of going away.
All three early season losers have one thing in common; European football. These teams have the quality to recover, but the Bundesliga schedule can be unforgiving, as all three teams look to escape the bottom half of the table.