We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed watching Union Berlin lead the Bundesliga in the early stages of the season, but there were also plenty of fans that doubted that they could keep it up. Well, Union Berlin lost only their second game of the season on Sunday (the first loss coming at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in early October). Top of the table Union travelled to face bottom of the table VfL Bochum, and came away empty handed! Football is weird.
What’s particularly funny about this loss is that it doesn’t particularly address Union Berlin’s xG overperformance. According to xG this probably should have ended in a 1-1 draw, but that’s also ignoring that the vast majority of Union’s xG came from a penalty. There were plenty of us that were expecting Union’s form to dip when their xG overperformance starts to regress to the mean, but I’m not sure anyone was expecting them to just drop points against one of the relegation favourites and deserve to drop points too.
Anyway, Union Berlin are still top of the Bundesliga table, about a third of the way through the season, but Bayern Munich are now only one point behind them. It’ll be interesting to see how long Union can hold off the inevitable.
Mainz 5-0 FC Köln
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Wolfsburg
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 VfB Stuttgart
Augsburg 3-3 RB Leipzig
Freiburg 2-0 Werder Bremen
Hoffenheim 0-2 Bayern Munich
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-3 Frankfurt
VfL Bochum 2-1 Union Berlin
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Schalke
Checking in on the Bundesliga’s Middle Class
We’ve spent plenty of time talking about Union Berlin so far this season, but what about the rest of the Bundesliga’s “chasing pack”? There’s a bunch of teams that are having pretty solid seasons that haven’t received much attention, so now seems as good a time as any to check in with some of them.
One of the teams that has actually been talked about a little here is Freiburg, but they continue to impress. I think they’ll be pretty lucky to make the top four, but another season of European football certainly won’t do them any harm.
Meanwhile, Frankfurt have quietly crept up the table and they currently sit in fourth, just a point ahead of Dortmund. They’ve had a pretty good season, building on their European success last season by enjoying Champions League football and making a push to claim another place in the tournament for next season.
Beyond the top four, Hoffenheim and Mainz are making decent cases for top six places come the end of the season. They’re both just ahead of a gradually resurging RB Leipzig side. I’d expect Leipzig will eventually surpass them, but both sides are in with a shot at qualifying for either the Europa League or the Conference League. Hoffenheim lost to Bayern Munich over the weekend, but Mainz had plenty to celebrate on Friday night, after giving FC Köln an absolute pasting.
It’s natural that so much attention would be paid to the top of the table, especially when there’s a couple underdogs giving a pretty good account of themselves and perhaps even fighting their way into the title contention. But there’s some interesting teams that are just shy of the summit, that are worth keeping an eye on.
Which of the chasing pack do you think are the most interesting this season? Personally, I think it’s Mainz. I’ve enjoyed watching them climb the table in recent seasons and become one of the better teams in the league, and I feel like they don’t get the appreciation they deserve.
I also think that their manager might be quite a nice fit for a certain English team that might be in need of a new manager soon...