Ten matchdays into the 2015-16 Bundesliga season and we have already witnessed events going according to the classic Bundesliga script: Bayern cruising to the title. Check. Eintracht Frankfurt scoring with ease and conceding just as easily. Check. Stuttgart not living up to the hype. Check.
However there has been a fair share of surprises as well. Promoted teams Ingolstadt and Darmstadt have exceeded expectations, written off players like Vedad Ibisevic have been reborn and even the folks at Hamburg seemed to have pulled themselves together. Here are the top 4 surprises of the season so far:
1. Hertha Berlina s presence at the top
Hertha Berlin are a team perpetually caught in the midtable scramble to avoid relegation, with only one finish in the top half of the table in the last 10 years. However, the capital outfit have performed unlike a team of their reputation and are currently sitting 5th in the standings. Two losses in the first three games hinted at yet another long season but after 10 matchdays and 17 points, PA?l DA?rdaia s side are just two points off third place, with home wins against K ln and Hamburg the highlights.
Vedad Ibisevic and Mitchell Weiser, out of favour at their old clubs, have exploded onto the scene at Berlin with the pair boasting of 8 goals and assists between them already. Hertha can also boast of the third best defence in the league largely thanks to captain Fabian Lustenberger and Sebastian Langkampa s partnership in central defence.
While it may be too early to predict their finish at the end of the season, Hertha should be pleased with their performance so far that put them ahead of teams like Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia M nchengladbach in the table.
2. The struggle of top managers Favre and Weinzierl
After guiding Borussia M nchengladbach and Augsburg to their first ever European ventures last season, respective managers Lucien Favre and Markus Weinzierl have had torrid starts to 2015-16. Favre, after five straight losses, stepped down from his post and Weinzierla s Augsburg are bottom of the table with just one win.
Favre willingly resigned from his post after he claimed that he could no longer find solutions to the problems and that he no longer trusted himself despite receiving the support of the club. His successor Andre Schubert has managed to turn things around and guide the Foals back into the top half of the table.
The toll of participating in the Europa League is very much evident on Weinzierl and Augsburg as their thin squad seems incapable of handling 3 competitions in a single season. Even though it is not a managerial shortcoming but the inadequacy of the team as a whole, a few fingers do point towards the manager and his tactics.
a Gladbach may have turned things around under Schubert and are on track for a finish near the top, but Augsburg are struggling at the bottom which doesna t seem likely to change until their Europa League campaign is over soon.
3. Hoffenheim near bottom despite a great transfer window
Despite the sale of star player Roberto Firmino and captain Andreas Beck, Hoffenheim made some shrewd summer signings in the form of Freiburga s Jonathan Schmid and Bundesliga veteran Kevin Kuranyi. Further, the addition of proven stars on the international level like Chilea s Eduardo Vargas, Czech Republica s Pavel Kaderabek and Switzerlanda s Fabian Sch r meant that a strong finish in a European spot looked likely.
However, Markus Gisdola s side have picked up just 6 points in 10 games with their defence looking particularly shaky as they have conceded 19 times already. Added to the first round exit from the DFB Pokal as well, it is certainly a matter of time before Gisdol gets the sack. The 3-1 losses to Mainz and Bremen were shambolic defensive performances which since then, have not been sorted out.
Team captains Pirmin Schwegler and Kevin Volland have been the lone sparks in a side sorely lacking creativity upfront and cohesion at the back. A change in management could be the necessary impetus for the Hoffenheim to show what their squad is really capable of.
4. The emergence of Julian Weigl as a Dortmund regular
One of the best summer signings in the Bundesliga, 20 year old Julian Weigl has become an undroppable figure at Borussia Dortmund under Thomas Tuchel. Arriving from 1860 Munich where he was the cluba s youngest ever captain aged 18, the central midfielder was initially expected to serve as understudy to Sven Bender, Ilkay GA?ndogan and Gonzalo Castro. While he is not a player to plunge into the tackle like Bender or provide the attacking threat of Castro, he has managed to move up the pecking order ahead of both with mature and commanding performances.
His 91% pass completion and an average of 2.7 interceptions per game make him the defensive midfielder perfectly suited to Tuchela s side. His contribution to the team was especially evident in the clean sheet victories against Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz.
With further talk of German national team coach Joachim L w considering a call up for the young midfielder before Euro 2016, one can certainly say it wona t be undeserved for the silent but efficient cog in the BVB system.