German Bundesliga - The Year 2010 In Review

Best Team(s): Bayern Munich owned the spring – twice – but Borussia Dortmund has owned the Hinrunde (fall). They’ll need to split this one, but Borussia will get 2011 if, as Mohamed Zidan promised, they take the league by February – effectively, if not mathematically.

Disappointment: There are several, but Bayern Munich have gone from 90 minutes to a treble to 14 points out during the winter break.

The Underdog: Relative to position, it has to be Borussia Dortmund. However, the team they currently hold a ten point lead over – one of them, anyway – is none other than Mainz, which finished ever-so-barely in the top half last season. People expected Borussia to be good, if not quite this good. Mainz in second? Please. Their biggest transfer was 1 Million Euros.

The Star: Remember Arjen Robben? The guy who carried Bayern on his back while healthy and added an unmistakable dynamism to the South African Dutch selection? A case of a brilliant yet fleeting supernova, but he was something beyond extraordinary when healthy – true Ballon d’Or material if the Iniesta had gone the other way.

Breakthrough Stars: His breakthrough came in the early fall of ’09 and during the World Cup, but nonetheless, Mesut Ozil entered a rarefied atmosphere while at Werder Bermen. Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa, only 21, isn’t far behind.

The Coach: Mainz was in the second division in 2009. Thanks to Thomas Tuchel, they’re now in second place. Wonder if Jose Mourinho, or anyone, could do the same with what must be 1% of Real Madrid’s talent.

Year 2010 League Stories

Bayern won the double, bouncing back from Louis van Gaal’s rough debut, and were 90 minutes of Champions League final away from three trophies. Alas… Not quite to the level of Mainz’s shocking rise into second – and it’s always wise to remember the Hoffenheim – but Schalke casually strutted a title challenge late into the year. Of course Felix Magath mounting a title challenge is no shocker, but to do it with a club in the financial realm was something special.

Bayer Leverkusen, once again, lived up to their cruel yet accurate ‘Neverkusen’ tag. Undefeated late into the year, they led the title charge and finally seemed to be putting the past behind. They finally lost a stunner to Nuremberg. Then, then lost a few more, 5 of their next 7, before finishing 11 points off, entirely defeated. An epic collapse by a club which knows it well. But they did bring back into the fold one of their old pals, Michael Ballack, in one of the biggest name transfers, even if he didn’t cost a penny.

Hertha Berlin went down, exactly one year after playing the Bundesliga’s shock title contender. Lucien Favre went from hero to jobless in a matter of hours. Wolfsburg hired Steve McClaren in the summer amid a slew of other higher profile buys, and spent the rest of 2010 watching him destroy all the credibility and reputation he had earned during his triumph with FC Twente. Schalke spent some money as well, but won the award for strangest sight of the year when they put Raul in white…and blue. All the while Schalke’s icon, or one of them, Kevin Kuranyi, went to a more familiar blue and white with Dinamo Moscow.

Edin Dzeko wanted to leave. But then he said he’d stay. But would leave soon. This happened several times a month, twelve times around, most of the people even lost count of it. Starting late after the World Cup, Mainz just blew out of the gates. And continued playing really well throughout the fall, really. Of course Shinji Kagawa can run even faster, and he ran Borussia Dortmund way past everyone to the top of the table. And that is where we stand heading into 2011: Borussia Dortmund and ‘the field’.

This is why the Bundesliga is the best in the world in term of entertainment. Everything is unpredictable and no one knows what is going on till the final day.

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