The first half of the 2019-20 German Bundesliga season has thrown up many surprises and endless entertainment since kicking off in August.
Defending champions Bayern Munich have had their ups and downs which includes dismissing head coach Niko Kovač in November. The Croatian had guided them to last season’s title.
Borussia Mönchengladbach have been the biggest surprise of the season so far, leading for much of the way in the first 17 games of the campaign before stumbling just before Christmas. Any dreams of recreating their title successes of the 1970s appear just to be a dream for fans of Die Fohlen.
Marco Rose’s side stumble in the weeks before Christmas allowed RB Leipzig to top the table ahead of the resumption of the campaign on Friday 17 January 2020. The Upper Saxony club have been entertaining to watch and look like genuine contenders to Bayern’s throne. They started November with the 8-0 hammering of Mainz 05.
An inconsistent Borussia Dortmund team make up the top four.
RB Leipzig (37pts)
Julian Nagelsmann’s side started the season with three successive victories, including a 4-0 thrashing of debutants Union Berlin the capital, and 3-1 at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
RB Leipzig only won one of their next six league matches following that, coinciding with the start of their Champions League campaign. Die Roten Bullen successfully made it out of their group and will face last season’s runners-up, Tottenham Hotspur, in the second round in February.
Winning seven of their eight games in the run up to Christmas saw Nagelsmann’s side top the table with 37 points at the midway stage.
Predicted finish: 2nd
RB Leipzig have to go to Bayern Munich at the start of February which will be the toughest test for the league leaders. They also host Borussia Dortmund in the penultimate weekend, which could have a lot on the line.
It’s a young team and for that I don’t think they will have the nerve to hold off Bayern Munich, provided the defending champions put up a strong challenge. The Champions League could also be a huge distraction.
Borussia Mönchengladbach (35pts)
After finishing 5th last term and appointing a head coach from the Austrian Bundesliga, even the most passionate of Borussia Mönchengladbach fans wouldn’t had them among the 2019-20 Bundesliga title contenders.
Marco Rose didn’t come from any Austrian Bundesliga side – he spent two years with RB Salzburg where he won the title on both occasions. The former VfB Leipzig defender has had a hugely positive effect on his new club. Thorgan Hazard to Borussia Dortmund, Josip Drmić to Norwich City and Mickaël Cuisance to Bayern Munich over the summer, Rose had his side topping the table for much of the first half of the season.
Results included a 2-1 win at home to Bayern Munich in early December.
Predicted finish: 4th
Gladbach’s great start to the season will fall away in the second and they’ll be battling with Schalke 04, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and possibly 1899 Hoffenheim for a Champions League place. I think Marco Rose has the ability to guide his side to a top four finish but ultimately they’ll be far adrift of the champions.
Marcus Thuram has excelled in attack this season and Alassane Pléa is a goalscorer up front. An experienced defence should prove key during the second half of the campaign whilst they have goals all across midfield.
Bayern Munich (33pts)
Looking to win the Bundesliga title for a record eighth consecutive season, Bayern Munich made another slow start under Niko Kovač. A 5-1 hammering at former club Eintracht Frankfurt saw the Croatian shown the door at the start of November.
Arsène Wenger and Erik ten Hag were subsequently linked before Hans-Dieter Flick was promoted to the head coach role for the remainder of the season. The former Bayern Munich midfielder guided his side to three successive league wins heading into the winter break.
This is a Bayern Munich team that hammered Tottenham Hotspur 7-2 in London back in October – they’re certainly capable of winning any game at will.
Predicted finish: 1st
It’s always hard to overlook a team that includes Robert Lewandowski, Thiago, Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, David Alaba, Ivan Perišić, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller and several other top players; it’s part of why Munich have remained as favourites despite sitting in third for much of the season. The Champions League will no doubt be a huge focus for Flick’s side, starting with Chelsea next month.
In terms of domestic goals, beat RB Leipzig in early February and their Bundesliga title defence will be back on track. Before that, they face Hertha BSC (away), Schalke 04 (home) and Mainz 05 (away) which is potential for three successive wins ahead of a top of the table clash at the Allianz Arena.
Borussia Dortmund (30pts)
Borussia Dortmund’s 2019-20 season has been a tail of inconsistency. A 4-0 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen came after a 3-1 loss at Union Berlin. A 0-0 draw against Barcelona was followed by a 2-2 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lucien Favre has also seen his side thrashed 4-0 at Bayern Munich and blow a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home to RB Leipzig. They also had to fightback from 0-3 at home to lowly Paderborn to scrape a point.
Predicted finish: 3rd
I don’t see Borussia Dortmund getting back into the title race but they do kick off the second half of their season against FC Augsburg (away), FC Köln (home) and Union Berlin (home) that has to be seen as nine points. Ultimately though, they’re going to fall short to the consistency of Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig this season.
With the likes of Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer, Marco Reus and now Erling Haaland in attack, they’ll always have the fire power to give them a chance to win any game, but definitely they have been very woeful this season. Only 1899 Hoffenheim have conceded more goals among top half teams.