The 2012-13 season was building up to be an exciting year in Germany, especially after all of Bayern’s failures over the past year. Germany’s disappointing European Championship only added to the frustration over the summer.
Six months later, the Bundesliga fraternity has witnessed an evolution of epic proportions. Bayern Munich have become one of the strongest sides in Europe after a busy summer transfer period. Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 may not be setting the domestic scene on fire, but their European showings have been nothing short of phenomenal. The glory days of the 1970’s may well be returning to Germany.
TheHardTackle brings to you the best and the worst from the first half of the 2012-13 Bundesliga in this Hinrunde review.
Bayern Munich already have one hand on the Bundesliga title and we’re just halfway through the season. This well oiled machine has been a joy to watch all season, with the Frenchman being their unstoppable engine.
After a drab Euro 2012 and an early injury lay-off, Franck Ribery has been a beast down Bayern’s left flank this season. Having notched up five goals and eight assists in seventeen first team appearances, Jupp Heynckes will be overjoyed by Ribery’s performances for the Bavarian giants.
Ribery has put innumerable defensive units to the sword this season, his most memorable showings coming against Fortuna Düsseldorf, Hoffenheim and most recently against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Ribery’s trickery has always been a nightmare for defenders and this season only seems to be an improvement over the previous ones.
If there is another name that can be mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo, it is that of Franck Ribery.
Lucien Favre’s magic at Gladbach had overshadowed all of Christian Streich’s work at Freiburg last season. But the 47-year-old’s time to shine has finally arrived. From taking over when the club was in turmoil in December of 2011, Streich has watched his boys grow from strength to strength and now proudly has them fighting for European qualification.
Streich has created an air-tight defense at Freiburg this season; the team conceding just 18 goals in 17 league games. The wily tactician has also been greatly influential in the rise of youngsters Daniel Caligiuri and Jonathan Schmid.
Heynckes’ words before the Freiburg-Bayern game most perfectly described Streich: “Freiburg’s best man is sat on their bench. He (Streich) has not only worked on the foundations, but he has also started a revival at Freiburg.”
Wolfsburg’s summer activities looked set to aid the iron fist of Felix Magath in his second season with the club. With the likes of Fagner, Ivica Olic, Bas Dost and Naldo being brought in, there was a sense of optimism going about the Volkswagen Arena.
Magath’s season started on a bad note, first with a fall out with Diego, and then injuries to two key attacking players, Patrick Helmes and Vaclav Pilar. After an early let-off against Stuttgart, Magath’s hell began and continued for a good two months.
Woeful draws against lowly sides such as Greuther Fürth and Augsburg left the Wolves sitting in the relegation zone. A loss to Freiburg in mid-October saw them slip to the bottom of the table and this proved to be enough for the board to part ways with Quälix.
Anybody who says that they had predicted Eintracht Frankfurt to sit in fourth place at this stage of the season has got to be lying. The newly promoted outfit has been sensational all season and currently occupies the final Champions League spot in the Bundesliga.
Armin Veh’s return to the Bundesliga has been more than perfect with the Eagles. This accompanied by the rise of players like Alexander Meier, Sebastian Rode and Sebastian Jung has propelled the Eagles to a position far beyond their own imagination.
First season syndrome or not, this is a side that has excited fans worldwide and doesn’t look set to stop anytime soon.
After having signed the likes of Eren Derdiyok and Tim Wiese in the summer, Markus Babbel’s side was expected to build on last season’s mid-table finish and join in the fight for European football.
Fast forward six months and things are very different. Babbel doesn’t head the club anymore, Hoffenheim sit in 16th position, Derdiyok is completely out-of-favour and Tim Wiese is probably the worst goalkeeper in the Bundesliga.
Marco Kurz will have his hands full for the second half of the season, but is probably one of the best in the business to help keep Hoffenheim adrift of the relegation zone.
Nobody scores goals the way Juan Arango does so it is completely useless to bother having a Best Goal category. The Venezuelan has scored five mind-boggling goals in the Bundesliga this season, and choosing the best out of them is in itself a mammoth task.
After a lot of analysis, TheHardTackle has to go with his sumptuous volley against Wolfsburg. We hope for a lot more of these in the coming months.
Vedad Ibisevic is currently Suttgart’s top scorer this season, but these disastrous attempts to hit the net will be a thorn in an otherwise rosy campaign.