Another month, another international break. The last time there was time off for Nations League games, the Bundesliga season was only two games in. As a result, not a lot could be gained from digging deep into team performances as it was too early for many new signings while other teams were still recovering from their players’ involvement at the World Cup.
Now, the 2018-19 season is seven games old, so a much better picture as formed of how this year’s German top flight will go. Already there are some teams exceeding expectations while one the Bundesliga’s behemoth Bayern Munich have found themselves outside the top four – something unthinkable at the start of the season.
Who have been the overachievers and underachievers so far? And which players have caught the eye after seven games of the season?
Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig are the top two teams after seven games, but neither’s position near the summit is all that surprising. Dortmund invested well by adding Paco Alcacer on loan from Barcelona and the striker has been absolutely sensational with six goals in 81 minutes off the bench. Just wait until he starts some games!
New midfielders Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel have been solid in midfield for BVB, while Mo Dahoud has received a new lease of life under Lucien Favre. However, the same cannot be said for World Cup winner Mario Gotze, who doesn’t seem to have a place in Favre’s plans and may be on his way out of the club when the transfer window opens.
Leipzig have amazingly avoided fatigue thusfar, despite starting their season weeks before anyone else due to their participation in the Europa League qualifying stages. Temporary coach Ralf Rangnick has rotated very well, while Timo Werner has found the goalscoring form that eluded him at the World Cup.
Borussia Monchengladbach spent big to sign Alassane Plea from Nice, but he’s already proving his worth and found the net again in their shock win against Bayern Munich. Thorgan Hazard stayed despite helping Belgium to the World Cup semi-finals and is having another big season for BMG.
Werder Bremen have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign so far along with Hertha Berlin. Davy Klaassen’s arrival has energised the Bremen midfield, while Javairo Dilrosun is another future star let go by Manchester City that is shining in the Bundesliga (everyone knows how good Jadon Sacnho is playing – even Gareth Southgate, who gave him a first England call up).
Niko Kovac’s name is already on the back pages for the wrong reasons at Bayern Munich, with some already calling for him to be sacked. Doing so would mean that Bayern’s chiefs take responsibility for appointing the wrong man, so it’s unlikely to happen unless things get worse. Serge Gnabry has been a rare bright spot in recent weeks and is likely to get more gametime.
Bayern have been hit by a lot of injuries, with David Alaba’s latest knock meaning they only have one fit full-back. This could pave the way for 18-year-old Jonathan Meier to get his first start after the international break. The Bavarians could do with something new to change things as their big names like Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez, and Jerome Boateng have failed to impress so far this season.
Two more teams who have been less than impressive are Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke, who sit just above the relegation zone. Leon Bailey has not yet recaptured the form of last season for Leverkusen, where Kai Havertz has done everything possible to turn bad results into positive ones, despite being just 19.
Schalke have been poor all over the pitch, with new striker Mark Uth doing nothing in front of goal and summer signing Sebastian Rudy showing why Bayern had no problems offloading him after one season.
Even further down the table – in fact, at the very bottom – Stuttgart have already changed managers, losing faith in Tayfun Korkut already. They have the players to turn things around, with the board hoping Markus Weinzierl can inspire the likes of Daniel Didavi and Mario Gomez to better performances.