The 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign reached its conclusion last weekend after Bayern München had already lifted its 10th consecutive league-title a month ago.
We cast a glance back at how the season unfolded for all the teams; who qualified for Champions League and Europa League, who needed late heroics to stay afloat in the top-division and which clubs had to take the bitter taste of relegation.
Bundesliga 2021/22 Season Review- sponsored by Cyber Bet
FC Bayern München
Having the biggest and also the strongest squad in the Bundesliga by a fair distance, Bayern München seemingly cruised away to its 32nd league-title with consummate ease. It was the first league-title in the career of 34-year old manager Julian Nagelsmann, who arrived at the club last summer and continued the complete dominance of the Bavarian giants, at least in the Bundesliga.
The title-race was definitely a much tighter contest in the early stages of the season, with Bayern also looking a much more commanding team in comparison to the manner how it ended the campaign. The record-champions were certainly not as dominant in the 2nd half of the season which was highlighted by an embarrassing Champions League exit, having already been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal at an early stage. It did not make good reading for the top-brass of this massive club which is always pursuing the highest of standards.
Yet Bayern breezed through to the Bundesliga title with a 12-point margin while its rivals faltered. But the coaching-staff will have plenty of food for thought during the off-season, pondering on things like how it failed to win a game after clinching the league, amongst other things. The current squad contains a host of exciting young talents but the team still relies heavily on its well-decorated veterans. There should be quite a few exits as well since Marcel Sabitzer, Corentin Toliso, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman are planning to leave in the summer while Robert Lewandowski is also not likely to extend his contract with the club.
Of course, this presents the manager with an opportunity to refresh the squad with younger players and properly shape the squad in his image. Right now Bayern München has to reinforce in all areas to remain competitive with the elite of Europe. But with the club under financial constraints following Covid-19, utilising the available funds wisely is high-priority.
BVB 09 Borussia Dortmund
In the 1st half of the 2021/22 Bundesliga season, Borussia Dortmund provided a more than commendable challenge for the champions in the title-race. But inconsistent form coupled with injuries had caused enough damage to surrender the title with a month still left to play until the end of the season. This was Dortmund’s 6th runners-up finish since it last lifted the league-title a decade ago.
The campaign began with Marco Rose taking charge as the new manager of the club, bringing in fresh ideas and optimism for the season ahead. Sure enough, the Bundesliga campaign went quite well until it all came apart just before the winter-break. Dortmund earned only 4 points during December while its title-rival won all its 4 fixtures in the month to open a significant gap at the top of the standings.
With the club now in a chase behind the leaders, Borussia Dortmund made a good start to the New Year but was unable to maintain that momentum for much longer. In the following weeks, Dortmund did manage to cut down the lead on a couple of occasions to come within touching distance. Yet it failed to get shoulder to shoulder with champions and actually surrendered the title without any real fuss.
In hindsight, 2nd place was probably the best finish the team could realistically have achieved and the greater disappointment will perhaps be concerned with the early exits from DFB-Pokal, Champions League and Europa League. The club’s talisman centre-forward Erling Haaland has already made a big-money transfer to Manchester City with the 20 year-old wonder-kid Karim Adeyemi following in his trail to Westphalia from Red Bull Salzburg next season. While the defence certainly needs to be bolstered in the summer, Dortmund has enough quality in other areas of the pitch to challenge for the league-title once again.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen absolutely deserves its 3rd place finish in the Bundesliga at the end of a highly impressive campaign on various fronts. Having remained in the top-half of the table for the entirety of the campaign, Bayer Leverkusen did not get out from the top-4 during the 2nd half of the season and eventually sealed that much coveted Champions League spot with a couple of matches to spare.
However, it was not all that straightforward as it sounds as the club had to endure some barren periods while being relentlessly haunted by injuries to its key players of the team. But it also produced enough consistency with regular winning-runs like the 4 straight games it won at the end of the campaign. Having only come to the club last summer, manager Gerardo Seoane merits all the accolades he receives for delivering such a good season in only his first year at the club.
The contributions of Florian Wirtz, Moussa Diaby and Patrik Schick, who netted 24 times in just 27 league-appearances, were of course vital to the team’s success but contributions from the veterans like skipper Lúkas Hrádecky, Kerem Demirbay, Charles Aránguiz and Karim Bellerabi cannot be overlooked. Keeping hold of all its key players will be vital for its fortunes in the next campaign.
It was a chaotic campaign for RB Leipzig, to put it mildly, but all is well that ends well. Or at least that is what Leipzig fans will have to say after snatching a 4th spot finish on the final day of the season. In fairness, it actually seemed quite improbable 6 months or so ago with the club even dropping out from the top-half on a couple of occasions.
While Leipzig did end the previous season as runners-up in Bundesliga, expectations were not as high after losing some of its best players in addition with the departure of the manager. It was the beginning of a new period at the club, with a new manager in charge of a new-look squad. Jesse Marsch was promoted to the role after a successful stint at sister-club RB Salzburg in Austria. But his time at Leipzig was short-lived with the club lifting the axe as it lagged behind in 11th position by the first week of December having tasted more league-defeats than victories up till that point.
The highly-regarded Domenico Tedesco, a man who had a point to prove after his own debacle with Schalke a couple of years back, replaced him as the manager. Leipzig soon turned matters around even though the results on the pitch took a short while longer. At the end, Leipzig came up with the best overall-record in the Bundesliga during this calendar-year to seal 4th position in spite of receiving a couple of jitters. So the scenery is a bright one at the moment but Leipzig has a fight on its hands to hold onto Christopher Nkunku, Konrad Laimer, Josko Gvardiol and Dominik Szoboszalai for next season.
FC Union Berlin
Since earning its first promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2019/20 campaign, Union Berlin has continued to make steady progress with every passing season to finish in 5th position this time. The modest side from the German capital looked to be out of the battle for the top-6 positions but a strong run of form towards the backend of the season helped the club on to its best-ever finish.
Urs Fischer, the man who has overseen the entire Bundesliga journey of Union Berlin, is once again a worthy contender for the ‘manager of the season’. His team may not play the most attractive brand of football but it definitely gets the fundamentals right, in addition to a a robust team-ethic which is the reason why it finished the campaign with the 3rd best defensive-record in the division.
Improving on its 5th place finish will be an almighty task, although that has been said of Union Berlin every year, it seems, even though it continues to defy the odds and punch above its weight. With Europa League action on the cards for next season, strengthening the squad, at least in terms of numbers, will be crucial even if the club will hold on to its key players.
It was indeed a memorable Bundeslga campaign for Freiburg even if it was unable to land a top-4 finish eventually. Still, the club nearly equalled it’s best-ever finish in the top-division with an improvement of 10-points from the previous season. The season could yet end on a happier note with Freiburg also reaching the DFB-Pokal final.
Overall, Freiburg had a really steady season under Christian Streich, the long-time manager of the club, as it never dropped out of the top-6 spots following the opening-week of the campaign. With the club perched on 4th spot at the end of April, that elusive Champions League qualification was within its grasp. But successive defeats in the last couple of fixtures dropped it down to 6th place in the end.
Repeating the performance from this campaign in the next one might be a step too far for Freiburg even if it goes on to earn the first major trophy in the club’s history later this week. Besides, there will no doubt be a line of teams queuing up to prise away its top-assets like Philipp Lienhart, Nico Schlotterbeck and Jeong Woo-Yeong.
The Mid Table
Despite missing out on a Conference League spot, Köln will be thrilled to end the season in 7th position, especially considering it required a relegation-playoff victory to stay in the Bundesliga last season.
With the unmistakable Steffen Baumgart arriving as the new manager of the club last summer, the Billy Goats soon developed a strong defensive resilience in the early stages of the season before showing fine form in the latter-half to secure its best league-finish in 5 years. The club’s iconic striker Anthony Modeste was the star-man scoring 20 league-goals this season.
With a 7-point improvement from the previous campaign, Mainz will be thrilled to finish the season in 8th position after managing to stay clear of the relegation-dogfight for the entire season. But it was night and day in terms of form as on one hand, Mainz had the 3rd best home-record in the Bundesliga, while on the other side it also held the 2nd poorest away-record in the division.
Hoffenheim was in strong contention for a top-4 finish halfway through the season even though it did not make a particularly good start. But it largely a case of feast or famine as it ended the campaign in 5th position for goals-scored while it also possessed the 4th leakiest defence in the Bundesliga. However, a 9-game winless-run to end the season ensured that the club would only end up at the fringes of the top-half in 9th position.
Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach
Underwhelming is probably the word to best describe the 2021/22 Bundesliga season for Borussia M’gladbach. Under a new manager in Adi Hütter, M’gladbach actually made a steady start to the campaign but some harrowing results in the winter left it far closer to bottom-3 rather than the top-6. However, collecting 18 points from its final 9 fixtures allowed the club to finish in 10th position with brighter expectations for the next season.
After a good start to the season, Eintracht Frankfurt soon gathered strong momentum to climb up to 6th spot before the winter-break. Yet it only picked up 4 league-wins in the 2nd half of the campaign, with an 8-match winless-run at the end which left the club in 11th position in the end. But all of this will only be a blur in time for the Eintracht faithful after its success in the Europa League earlier this week that put an end to a 42-year wait for a European trophy. Oliver Glasner was not a popular appointment when he came to the club last summer but he will now be carrying his side into the Champions League next season.
After naming Mark van Bommel as the new manager, Wolfsburg started the season with a bang by racking up 4 straight wins to lead the Bundesliga table during the early weeks. Yet he was sacked before the end of October after 4 consecutive losses with Florian Kohfeldt coming in as the replacement. He enjoyed a short honeymoon-period as well before heading into a bleak battle against relegation. Wolfsburg did have a decent end to the season though and a 4-game unbeaten-run at the end helped secure a 12th place finish.
Being one of the freshly-promoted sides for the 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign, Bochum will be delighted with a 13th place finish, especially after its difficult start to the season. After a couple of months however, Bochum managed to find its feet in the top-tier of German football and was able to keep its form steady enough to stay clear of the drop-zone for the rest of the season.
Although it lay in the relegation-zone for the vast majority of the campaign, Augsburg was able to end with a decent 14th place by picking up its form at the business-end of the season. Having taken just 4 wins in the 1st half of the season, Augsburg notched 5 victories from its final 10 matches to ensure that it will remain in the Bundesliga for the upcoming edition.
Great escapes on the final day are one of the unique joys that football can bring and Stuttgart pulled on an escape-act that can rival Houdini at his pomp. With only 4 league-wins heading into the month of March, Stuttgart hung in and around the drop-zone for much of the campaign. Needing a victory on the last day of the season for any chance of getting out from the bottom-3, Stuttgart produced a last-gasp injury-time winner that was enough to avoid a relegation-playoff on goal-difference.
The Relegation Zone
Hertah Berlin almost managed to finish outside the bottom-3 but was eventually pulled down to 16th position at the very last minute of the season. Relegation did not really seem to be on the menu in the opening months of the campaign but a miserable run of form following the midseason-interval had Hertha tumbling down the table and into the relegation-mire. Even though it did somewhat revive its form before the end it was not enough and now faces a two-legged relegation-playoff with Hamburg this week.
DSC Arminia Bielefeld
Having barely survived in the Bundesliga during its last campaign, Arminia Bielefeld was not able to repeat the feat this season. The start was not great either with the club failing to win any of its opening 10 fixtures although a strong run of form during the winter months did alleviate its position in the table. At the end, Bielefeld finished with an 11-game winless-streak including 8 defeats that left the club well short of safety.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Following its promotion to the top-tier of German football for only the 2nd time in its history, Greuther Fürth was handed an immediate return to 2.Bundesliga once again. In truth, relegation was pretty much on the cards after earning only 1 point from the first 15 fixtures of the season. Its form surely improved in the latter half of the season, but nowhere good enough to get out of the drop-zone and it ended light years behind the safety-margin in the end.
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