As the curtains are drawn, the dust begins to settle on an exciting and brilliant season in the Bundesliga. We take a look at some of the winners and losers from the recently-finished campaign. We had some outstanding goals, some superb individual performances, and some magical moments in Germany in what has been a pulsating and exciting campaign to say the least. With only the relegation playoffs left, the jury is out and it’s time to give away the awards for the 2011-12 season.
Goalkeeper Of The Season – ter Stegen
The question here, is not whether ter Stegen is the best keeper of the Bundesliga this season; more so, has he been the best in the world? Agreed, Neuer had a stellar season, conceding only 22 goals, with 17 cleans sheets. But Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has been phenomenal. His statistics speak for himself. 24 goals conceded and 15 clean sheets are just the tip of the iceberg.
With a “saves to goals conceded ratio” of 4.6, and a ridiculous 102 saves made over 34 games, ter Stegen is a freak of nature. At an age of 19, he has a really bright future ahead. With the call-up to the national team in the bag, his next challenge would be the toughest. Will he able to replace Neuer as Germany’s #1? Only time will tell.
Rising Star Of The Season – David Alaba
One word – Alabaster. Ask any Bayern fan, how much they will miss the Austrian this Saturday, and you would know what we are talking about. An eye-catching player, Alabaster remains in the midst of action throughout any match. And on top of this, he is already a fixture in the Austrian national team. All this at the tender age of 19 speaks volumes about the player. He has already been voted the Austrian Footballer of the Year 2011, and should be in with a shout this year too. David Alaba is here to stay.
Surprise Package(team) Of The Season – Augsburg
Augsburg, who else? They were the favorites to get relegated, and boss Jos Luhkay the first coach to get the sack, if the bookies were to be believed. Instead they had an absolute fairy-tale of a season. Earning a precious draw against Dortmund in March, they remained unbeaten against BMG and secured top-flight status with a game to spare; their achievements have been nothing short of extra-ordinary.
They conceded 49 goals, the fewest among teams outside the top 4. FC Augsburg were promoted alongside Hertha Berlin, and many expected the Berlin club to make a bigger impact. But the Auggies surprised everyone with their discipline and tactical adaptability right throughout the course of the season, and as it stands Hertha are in the relegation playoffs, while Augsburg finished 14th.
Escape Of The Season – SC Freiburg
We did see Gladbach escape by the skin of their teeth last season in an astonishing season finale in the Bundesliga. This season, SC Freiburg have achieved something equally monumental if not more. As the winter break arrived, the Freis looked down and out, rooted to the bottom with only 3 wins. So what do they do, in such hours of crisis? Sell Papiss Cisse, their only renowned world-class player.
Come April, and they have another 7 wins, 3 draws, and sitting comfortably in 12th place. Manager Christian Streitch’s half-season achievements are surely at par with those of Favre and Klopp, in recent years. The Freis will hope for more of the same from the manager and the team, in the new campaign.
Breakthrough Team Of The Season – Borrusia Monchengladbach
If this had to be decided in March, there would be one clear-cut winner. But over the past two months, the German League has been thunderstruck by the outrageous performances of two teams written off by everyone – Freiburg and Augsburg. But despite their miraculous survivals, we chose a Borrusian club, who were on the verge of going down 12 months back, and today are preparing themselves for a taste of Champions League football – Borrusia Monchengladbach.
With one of the best defenses across Europe, one of the best goalkeepers and playing some neat football, Gladbach have turned the tables, and how. Their much-improved defense was complemented by a disciplined midfield and a pacy offensive game. They even challenged for the title for more than half the campaign. Many expected them to run out of gas mid-season in their quest for Champions League football, but it wasn’t to be. True, their form dropped in the last couple of months ending their challenge for the title prematurely.
Despite that, they always stayed in the top 4, and were even fighting for 3rd with 2 games remaining, and eventually lost out to Schalke. They settled for the 4th spot and by no means is that any short of miraculous, with a 12 place jump in the standings. Champions League football awaits.
Disappointment Of The Season – FC Koln
No second option for this – FC Koln. The RheinEnergie stadium was literally on fire on the last day of the campaign. The FC Koln fans set fire to their own stadium, there were riots, pipe bombs and violence. All this after the club got relegated again, despite having one of the most prolific scorers in the league. Even, 18 goal man Lukas Podolski couldn’t save his hometown club from another stint in the 2nd division.
Koln had the worst defensive record and also the fewest wins. The brilliance of Poldi, did give the fans some hope in January, but their abysmal form thereafter, ensured relegation. With the departure of Podolski, it would be interesting to see, how and when, do the billy goats return to the Bundesliga.
Goal Of The Season
This has to be the toughest end-of-the-season award. There were some ridiculous goals scored all across Germany, and it comes to personal taste. Does one prefer a team goal, a solo goal or insane volleys? We have shortlisted 3 goals(with immense difficulty) and leave it for the readers to decide, who can let us know, in the comments section below.
Manager Of The Season – Lucien Favre
It’s easy to give it to the manager that wins the league, but we take a look at the team that made the greatest improvement, tactically and in terms of position in the league. Even on these grounds, Streitch and Luhkay are worthy contenders. But we decided to chose the manager who made the biggest difference to the team. One who kept his team punching above their weight, well apparently, for most of the season. Step forward Favre. His achievements speak volumes about what an exceptional tactician and man-manager he is.
He transformed a bunch of under-performers into potential title aspirants. He got the best out of ter Stegen, Reus, Dante, and even the unpredictable Hanke. Champions League football might affect their league form next season, but with Favre in charge, one just won’t write them off. Dante and Reus will be missed, but Favre has it in him, to get the best out of his players. With a few dealings in the transfer market, a couple of new faces, expect BMG to be the dark horses for the title next season.
Young Player Of The Season – Marco Reus
Marco Reus. What should we say about him that we already haven’t? Readers would know, how much we love the kid. He is perhaps the closest shout to our player of the season, but narrowly misses out. If you trust Kicker ratings, he has been the best player of the season. The high point of his season, was a 3-1 destruction of Bayern. His versatility raises him above his peers. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him up there among the best players of the season, next May.
Player Of The Season – Shinji Kagawa
There were too many world-class players, who has had sensational seasons in their own right. The big guns are all in with a shout. Ribery, Kagawa, Gomez, Huntelaar and even the young player of the season Reus. But, based on the impact and consistency throughout the season, Robert Lewandowski is our player of the season. With the likes of Goetze out for a chunk of the season, and having sold their best player in Sahin, not many would have thought Dortmund would be champions, come May.
Dortmund not only won the title, but also recorded 81 points, ending the season with a 28 match unbeaten streak. The reason? Lewa. He was the heartbeat of Dortmund’s attacks, making them the offensive relay machine that destroyed teams. Even if his 22 goals and 8 assists are not taken into account, he was omnipresent in everything the Borrusians created. Yes Kagawa was brilliant and so were most of the Dortmund players. But, take one of those out, and Dortmund would still win the title with a little huff and puff. Take Lewandowski out, and Dortmund might struggle to finish in the top 2 even. That’s the sort of impact he has had on the team, and is thus truly the player of the season.
Team Of The Season
Subs: Neuer, Badstuber, Podolski, Kroos, Harnik, Lahm, Gomez
Written by Debarshee Mitra
Follow him on twitter @goonerstar_deb