Halfway through season, Bundesliga still booming

Berlin, Dec 22 (IANS) With the Bundesliga halfway down the season, not everybody is happy about the winter break’s inactivity. Most German football fans are counting down the days without their beloved sport before the second half of the season kicks-off on January 22, 2016.

The winter break is the time to reflect on the past and what the future holds, like the 2016 European Championship in France, the scandals at FIFA and UEFA, what happened in the last months of Bundesliga and the worries about just how powerful English Premier League will be next season when the new TV contract and its dramatically increased revenues kick in, reports Xinhua.

Of course, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski found a safe place in history books after his five goals in nine minutes against Wolfsburg. And the first half of the 2015-16 season ended in a flood of headlines about Pep Guardiola and his successor at Bayern next summer, Carlo Ancelotti. But the announcement of the upcoming merry-go-round involving superstar coaches came as no shock as Guardiola’s departure had been expected.

Fans are basically happy to see the revival of a club like Borussia Dortmund, who could well challenge the league’s top dog Bayern Munich. Looking at the table, the Bavarians are eight points ahead after 17 of the 34 games but Dortmund have come back to life after coach Thomas Tuchel joined the ‘black and yellows’.

Now the answer to the question as to who will win the championship might well produce a different answer than expected. There is still a gap to top of the table (Bayern Munich with 46 points) and there is also one to the rest of the league chasing second-placed Dortmund (38), who average crowds of 81,076.

A look at the goal-scoring list might provide hint as Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in the lead with 18 goals, ahead of Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski (15) and Thomas Mueller (14).

In danger of being relegated last season, Borussia, Bayern Munich’s main rivals in the past few years, are well and truly back and taking on the role as ‘Bayern hunter’ after clubs like Schalke, Wolfsburg, Borussia Moenchengladbach or Bayer Leverkusen all failed to take.

Besides first and second-placed Aubameyang and Lewandowski, Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich) is regarded to be the season’s top striker so far, followed by Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund), Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen) and Granit Xhaka (Borussia Moenchengladbach). Kevin Volland (TSG Hoffenheim) scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history when netting after just nine seconds against Bayern Munich (1-2).

Despite Dortmund’s rise up the table, the surprise package is Hertha BSC from the capital as the team coached by Hungarian Pal Dardai is currently sitting pretty in third which would directly qualify them for the Champions League. Hertha’s budget is far from being similar to that of the league’s bigger clubs but Dardai has managed to create a special team spirit.

Hertha’s success is seen as another example that Bundesliga is one of few really competitive leagues in Europe, meaning more or less every team can beat the other except when Bayern Munich is playing.

Recently FC Cologne beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1, Moenchengladbach beat Bayern Munich 3-1, FC Augsburg beat Schalke 2-1, and newcomers SV Darmstadt beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0, VfB Stuttgart beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 and Hamburger SV trounced Dortmund 3-1.

On top of it all, the second newly-promoted team FC Ingolstadt have finished the first 17 games in a very respectable 11th place.

The statistics for goals and crowds show that Bundesliga is again on the way to becoming one of (if not the) Europe’s top leagues. Last season 2.75 goals were scored per game (more than in any other league) and 43,500 turned up to every game.

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