Last week, the curtains came down on the 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign with Bayern München having already clinched the title almost a month back for its 10th consecutive Meisterschale.
We take a look back at how the season panned out for the various teams; which clubs qualified for the prestigious Champions League spots, who pulled off last-gasp heroics to stay in the top-tier of German football and who unfortunately had to suffer the heartbreak of relegation.
Bundesliga 2021/22 Season Review- sponsored by Cyber Bet
FC Bayern München
Being the strongest squad in the Bundesliga by a considerable margin, Bayern München grabbed its 32nd league-title without really breaking a sweat. After arriving as the new manager last summer, Julian Nagelsmann was able to continue the utter dominance of the Bavarian giants, at least on the domestic front.
However, the title-race in the Bundesliga was a much closer affair during the opening-half of the season, although Bayern also were in much more imperious form than how it ended the season. The 2nd half of the campaign was a lot more inconsistent with the massively disappointing Champions League exit in addition to an early exit in the DFB-Pokal previously casting murmurs of discontent behind the scenes of a club where nothing less than perfect is expected.
Eventually, Bayern cruised home to the Bundesliga title, yet there will be plenty for the coaching-staff to ponder in the off-season, especially considering how it failed to win a game following its league-triumph. While Bayern has a wide array of hugely talented youngsters in the squad, it still seems to rely heavily on the veterans. Moreover, there could be a host of exits as Marcel Sabitzer, Corentin Toliso, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are all likely to leave in the summer while Robert Lewandowski has also cast aside his contract-extension with Bayern.
Undoubtedly all of this will provide the manager with an opportunity to further mould the squad along his lines, therefore proper utilisation of resources with the club under a financial cloud will be essential for the near future. At present, there seems to be a clear need to bolster all across the park to remain competitive amongst the elite of Europe.
BVB 09 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund provided a pretty good challenge in the title-race for the champions, particularly in the early half of the season, but injuries and inconsistency had caused enough harm to only get its 6th runners-up finish since it last clinched the Bundesliga a decade ago.
The season started with new manager Marco Rose taking charge of the club and bringing in fresh optimism for the season. The Bundesliga campaign went quite well for the opening four months of the season as Dortmund kept pace with the vastly superior champions. But it all unraveled just before the winter-break in December as Dortmund picked up just 4 points during the month while its big title-rivals won all their fixtures to open up a substantial gap at the top of the standings.
Now having to play catch-up with the leaders, Dortmund did make a good start to the 2nd half of the season but was unable to maintain its consistency for long periods. While it did manage to trim down the gap on a few occasions, it could not get abreast of the champions again and eventually surrendered the title without much of a fight.
While a 2nd place finish was somewhat expected, there is probably going to be greater disappointment about the early exits from DFB-Pokal, Champions League and Europa League. Moreover, star-striker Erling Haaland has departed for greener pastures with the precociously talented Karim Adeyemi following in his footsteps to Signal Iduna Park from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer. So there is enough quality within the squad to target the Bundesliga title next season; keeping the players healthy is the big challenge.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
As one of the few sides that truly enjoyed an impressive campaign, Bayer Leverkusen thoroughly deserved its 3rd place finish in the Bundesliga. Staying at the top-end of the table for almost the entirety of the season, Bayer Leverkusen barely dropped out of the top-4 and was able to seal a Champions League berth with a couple of games to spare.
It was not all that straightforward however, with the club going through a few barren spells while also being perennially troubled with injuries to some key players of the squad. Yet it showed enough consistency while also putting on regular winning-streaks such as the 4 consecutive wins it piled up at the end of the campaign. Therefore manager Gerard Seoane merits all the plaudits he receives for overseeing such a successful campaign, that too in his very first season at the club.
Contributions from Patrik Schick, who scored 24 times in just 27 league-appearances, along with Moussa Diaby and Florian Wirtz will deservedly be waxed lyrical but the old warhorses like skipper Lukás Hrádecky, Kerem Demirbay, Charles Aránguiz and Karim Bellerabi will perhaps be the unsung heroes of side. Nevertheless, keeping hold of all their key assets is crucial for its fortunes in the upcoming campaign.
All is well that ends well; that is what RB Leipzig will believe after clinching 4th position in the Bundesliga on the final day at the end of a topsy-turvy campaign to say the least. It certainly looked a far cry in the opening few months of the season with the club even dropping out of the top-half on a couple of occasions.
Despite finishing as the runners-up last season, expectations were not as high with the club letting go of some of its most prized assets, along with manager Julian Nagelsmann. It was to be the start of a new era with a new-look squad and a new manager in Jesse Marsch who made a step up after an impressive spell in charge at sister-club RB Salzburg in Austria. But the relationship did not last very long as the club languished in 11th spot in the first week of December with more defeats than wins on its record.
In came the highly-regarded Domenic Tedesco, who himself had a chip on his shoulder after his fiasco in Schalke a couple of years ago. With its new manager, Leipzig instantly looked like a team reborn even though results only showed it a while later. Since the turn of the year, Leipzig held the best overall record in the Bundesliga to finish in 4th spot in spite of a couple of late jitters. The picture looks fairly bright for the upcoming season if it can hold onto its young starlets such as Christopher Nkunku, Konrad Laimer, Dominik Szoboszalai and Josko Gvardiol.
1.FC Union Berlin
Union Berlin first earned promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2019/20 campaign and has since then continued to make steady progress each season to end up on 5th position this time around. The unassuming side from the German capital was seemingly out of top-6 contention but a strong finish to the campaign eventually lifted it onto its best-ever finish.
Urs Fischer, who has been at the helm of Union Berlin during its entire journey in the Bundesliga, certainly deserves to be in the conversation for the ‘manager of the season’. His team might not be amongst the most eye-catching in the division but it certainly does most of the basics right, along with a strong team-ethic, which is why it ended the season with the 3rd best defensive-record.
Topping this season will be very difficult, although in all fairness, that has been said about Union Berlin for a few years now as it continues to punch well above its weight. Europa League beckons next season, therefore bolstering the squad, at least in quantity, is a top-priority even if it should hold on to all of its key players.
It was a remarkable Bundesliga campaign for Freiburg, even though it missed out on a top-4 finish by a whisker. Nevertheless, the club almost equalled its best ever-finish in the top-tier earning 10 more points than last year. And the season could yet end on an even better note with Freiburg also contesting the final of the DFB-Pokal later this week.
Under its long-serving manager Christian Streich, Freiburg enjoyed an extremely steady campaign and it never dropped out from the top-6 positions since the opening week of the season. And an elusive Champions League berth was within its own hands with the club sitting on 4th spot at the end of April. However, successive defeats in the last two matches meant it had to settle for 6th place eventually.
Now even if Freiburg manages to lift the biggest piece of silverware in the club’s history later this week, repeating the performance from this campaign will be a very hard act to follow. Moreover, there will be quite a few clubs interested in prising away some of its best young players like Nico Schlotterbeck, Jeong Woo-Yeong and Philipp Lienhart.
The Mid Table
After needing a relegation-playoff win to stay in the Bundesliga last season, Köln will be delighted with its 7th place finish despite missing out on a Conference League spot. Under its new manager, the unmistakable Steffen Baumgart on the sidelines, the Billy Goats put on a brilliant 2nd half to the campaign. The talisman centre-forward of the club, Anthony Modeste was the star of the show with 20 league-goals this season.
Hoffenheim did not start the season particularly well, yet it was in strong contention for a top-4 finish midway through the season. But it was usually either feast or famine as the club finished with the 5th best scoring-record along with the 4th worst defensive-record. Eventually a 9-match winless-run to finish the season meant the club had to cling on to 9th place in the end.
1.FSV Mainz 05
Having steered well away from the drop-zone throughout the whole of the season, Mainz will be delighted with its 8th place finish, especially with a 7-point improvement from the previous campaign. Yet in terms of form it was chalk and cheese as Mainz held the joint 3rd-best record on home-turf but it also had the joint 2nd worst away-record in the division.
Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach
Underwhelming is the word that will perhaps best describe the 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign for Borussia M’gladbach. After a decent start to the season, M’gladbach went through some harrowing times in the winter that left it closer to the drop-zone than to the top-6. But taking 18 points from the last 9 games allowed it to finish as high as 10th in the table with fresh expectations once again for the next season.
Eintracht Frankfurt began the season steadily enough and in fact built up tremendous form before the winter-break to climb up to 6th position in the standings. But with only 4 wins in the 2nd half of the Bundesliga campaign, including an 8-game winless run to end the season saw it finish in 11th spot eventually. However the Eintracht fans will not care a jot following its Europa League triumph earlier in the week which ended a 42-year continental trophy drought. Manager Oliver Glasner was not a particularly popular arrival in the summer but he will now be preparing his side for the Champions league next season.
Wolfsburg began the season with Mark van Bommel as the new manager and the club immediately started off with 4 straight victories. Yet he was gone before the end of October following 4 consecutive defeats with Florian Kohfeldt being brought in as his replacement. He also enjoyed a short honeymoon period before a long and arduous battle against relegation. But a 4-match unbeaten-run towards the end of the season has given Wolfsburg a more palatable 12th place finish.
As one of the newly-promoted teams this season, Bochum will be more than pleased with 13th spot in the Bundesliga table, especially considering it had to endure a very difficult opening couple of months to the season. But it had soon found its footing in the top-tier of German football to hold relatively consistent form right through the season and stay a fair bit away from the relegation-zone.
Even though it was lying in the bottom-3 for the majority of the season, Augsburg was able to salvage a decent-looking 14th place finish as it managed to pick up its form at just the right time. After earning just 4 wins in the opening-half of the campaign, Augsburg picked up 5 wins from 10 matches at the business-end of the season to ensure its place in the Bundesliga for next season.
As far as great escape acts are concerned, Stuttgart pulled one to match Houdini in his day. Poor form in the latter half of the season had kept the club in and around the drop-zone and needing a win on the final day to have any chance of survival. Relegation seemed imminent until a last-gasp injury-time winner was enough to scrape the club out of the bottom-3 on goal-difference.
The Relegation Zone
Hertha Berlin had nearly finished the season outside the bottom-3 but was brought down to 16th position at literally the last minute. A relegation-dogfight did not quite seem to be on the cards in the first few months of the season but a dreadful run of form following the midseason-interval brought the club tumbling down the table. While it did manage to resurrect its form somewhat, it was not enough and it is now set for a two-legged relegation-playoff with Hamburg in the coming week.
DSC Arminia Bielefeld
After barely avoiding relegation in the previous season, Arminia Bielefeld was unable to repeat the act this time around. It did not begin auspiciously either as the club failed to win any of its opening 10 fixtures. A purple-patch in the winter months did alleviate its position but an 11-match winless-run containing 8 defeats to end the season left Arminia Bielefeld well short of safety at the end.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth
After earning promotion onto the top-tier for the 2nd time in its history, Greuther Fúrth was once again handed an immediate return back to 2.Bundesliga. The writing was pretty much on the wall after collecting only 1 point from the opening 15 fixtures. The form did get better in the 2nd half of the season, but only a smidgen as it still ended up light-years behind the safety margin.
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