It has been a crazy season in the Bundesliga so far, even for that league’s wild standards. Record champions Bayern Munich are still on top, but goal difference is all that separates them from the high-flying and controversial newcomers RB Leipzig.
Perhaps more relevantly in the bigger picture, the Bavarians’ 1-1 draw against TSG Hoffenheim over the weekend along with Borussia Dortmund’s 5-2 victory against Hamburger SV puts the “Black and Yellows” from Germany’s Ruhr Valley six points within top spot.
They could cut that deficit in half with a win in the next round, when they face the champions at home.
But beyond Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig, there are Hertha BSC Berlin, Hoffenheim and 1.FC Cologne that are playing exciting soccer.
Whenever there are positive surprises, there must be negative ones as well. Last season’s top-four finishers Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are underperforming, to say nothing of the terrible starts by other big teams such as VfL Wolfsburg and Schalke 04.
Hamburger SV and FC Ingolstadt have had the worst starts of all, each taking only two points from ten matches and thus are already in danger of relegation to the second Bundesliga.
This failure of many teams to meet expectations, has had its consequences for a number of their coaches. Werder Bremen replaced Victor Skripnik with Alexander Nouri. Hamburg fired Bruno Labbadia to bring in Markus Gisdol. Last month, Wolfsburg relieved Dieter Hecking of his duties as well.
This past weekend there were two other major coaching stories in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg announced that they hired then-interim boss Valerien Ismael full-time, while Ingolstadt sacked Markus Kauczinski.
They had just brought in the now-departed coach at the start of the season, to replace Leipzig-bound Ralph Hasenhüttl. According to the sports magazine “Kicker”, the club management does not expect to have a replacement soon.
The upcoming international break will be helpful in that regard.