The first seven rounds of the Bundesliga were filled with surprises. With 27 games still to play, here’s what Fear The Wall’s writers have to say about the staying power of clubs occupying the top of the Bundesliga table.
League Position: 6th — 12 points
Goal Difference: +5
Looking at Gladbach’s recent form reveals draws against Bayern and Freiburg, two formidable opponents, and a 3-0 dismantling of Leipzig. With a single loss, I’d say Daniel Farke’s squad is doing something right. I expect them to challenge for a Champions League place.
After a really disappointing campaign in 2021/22, Gladbach needed to rebound at the beginning of the season to restore some faith among their board and their supporters. It is good to see the foals back on the right path, led by the formidable Jonas Hoffman. As long as he stays fit, Gladbach should expect to return to UCL football.
It’s good to see Gladbach performing well again this season, but I’m a little less high on them than Joey and Zac. I think they could mount a challenge for a top four spot, but I think they belong around about where they are right now. Nonetheless, top six is progress after last season.
League Position: 5th — 12 points
Goal Difference: +13
Who am I kidding? It’s Bayern, and the season is young. If Nagelsman is sacked at some point, his replacement will surely right the ship. I can hope for a new winner, but Bayern remains the league title's favorite.
Here’s to hoping Oktoberfest is the last time they enjoy themselves all season. Prost.
I, along with all the other party poopers, think Bayern will end up spoiling our fun and winning the league. The longer this weird slump goes on, the more that very slim window of opportunity opens up for everyone else. But it will need to stretch a good deal further for the gap to be insurmountable for the Bavarians.
League Position: 4th — 13 points
Goal Difference: +13
The only league games Hoffenheim has not won have been against clubs on this list. Hoffenheim could contend for a European place and I think their consistency will be key to finishing in the top six.. but I don’t think they’ll maintain it.
Pretender, pretender, pretender. Could Hoffenheim hold out for a spot in the top six? Sure, but I think a deep run in the mix with the big boys is unlikely. Hoffenheim have a tendency to be wildly inconsistent, battering opposition one weekend then failing to put a shot on target the next. They put up a good fight against Borussia Dortmund early in the season, but I’m not scared to face Hoffenheim like I’m scared to face Union Berlin right now.
Hoffenheim and Borussia Monchengladbach are the two sides that strike me as most likely to slip out of the top six. They’re both playing well enough to be there right now, but there’s a couple sides (RB Leipzig, maybe Frankfurt, maybe even FC Köln... Check their xG Difference) that could chase them down.
League Position: 3rd — 14 points
Goal Difference: +5
Christian Streich’s side is has looked increasingly dangerous over the last couple of seasons. They received some nice cash from BVB in the way of Nico Schlotterbeck, and have reinvested wisely in the likes of Michael Gregoritsch and veteran Matthias Ginter. Even including their Europa League campaign, Freiburg has lost one game this season, and that came at the hands of Dortmund.
As much as I enjoy the energy of Christian Streich and the footballing identity he has created in Freiburg, I fear the black forest boys will not have what it takes to push for a league title this season. The upcoming matches against Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich will really test their mettle, and if they can survive those, I may need to rethink my position.
Freiburg are one of two teams that feel like they shouldn’t be here, and yet, they’ve earned a spot in the top four completely on merit. Freiburg are legit. I worry about the effect that European football might have on them (and another high flyer to be discussed in a moment), but I think they’re playing well enough to hold on to a top four spot.
League Position: 2nd — 15 Points
Goal Difference: +2
After all, this is a Dortmund blog, so I’m obligated to say Dortmund will compete for the title. I’m honestly still not quite sure what to make of our squad and tactics thus far in the season. Points don’t lie, however, and BVB are deservedly in second. I’m optimistic that our attack will increase while our defense will remain strong... but time will tell.
Joey makes the only point that matters here: Borussia Dortmund must find more goals. The entire season hinges on this urgent matter.
Like the others, I’ve not been entirely sold on BVB’s performances so far this season. But the fact that Dortmund find themselves in 2nd place, despite not looking entirely convincing yet, is itself relatively promising. There’s no guarantee that BVB start firing on all cylinders and become an offensive juggernaut, but if they do start to score more goals, they could be a legitimate contender.
It feels like a big if right now, though.
League Position: 1st — 17 Points
Goal Difference: +11
I thoroughly expect Union to challenge for Europe this season but I’m not sure they will have the sustained quality we’ve seen this season from players like Sheraldo Becker. Union are certainly making a name for themselves as the superior Berlin team. Will they challenge for the title? I’m not so sure.
Contender. There’s something about this Union team and I absolutely love it. Union have been one of the most impressive sides to be promoted in the last 10 years. Unlike the Energy Drinkers, Union did not (to my knowledge) ride a blank checkbook into the Bundesliga. The organization has done magnificently to bide its time, weigh up the opposition, manage some extremely shrewd transfers, and assemble an excellent club ethos under Urs Fischer. The only thing that could derail this push is the team’s participation in the Europa League; I fear they do not have enough bodies to cope with a deep run in Europe and a title race at home.
I’d love to buy it, I really would... I just don’t. Union Berlin are riding high in first place, leading the Bundesliga, almost a quarter through the season. I just don’t think they’ll be there for all that much longer. When you compare their league position against their expected goal difference, it suggests that Union have benefited from a bunch of good fortune. I’m sure they’re better than xG suggests, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near the best team in the league. However, they might just be able to ride high enough for long enough that they hold on to a top four spot, and that, in and of itself, would be a massive achievement for a team that hasn’t been in the German top flight for that long.
What do you think? What team do you think is most likely to challenge for the title? For Europe?