2011/12 Bundesliga Quarter Season Review

We've completed a quarter of the 2011/12 Bundesliga, and it's time we take a good look at everything that's gone down. The Bavarians are in spectacular form and sit atop the table, while Hamburg and Augsburg have appeared dire at times and sit at the bottom.

Bayern Munich's Stonewall Defense

Coming into the season everyone knew that Bayern would score a bundle of goals, but the true question was if they would be able to stop the opposition from scoring. The answer is a resounding 'yes'. The additions of Jerome Boateng, Rafinha, and Manuel Neuer have turned Bayern into by far the most dominant team in the country. After Neuer's calamitous mistake in the opener against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the defense has turned in 7 straight shutouts in the Bundesliga and 2 more in the Champions League. However, yours truly feels that a lot of this has come down to the maturation of 22 year old Holger Badstuber. His steadying presence this season at centerback has been a refreshing change to his past play. Led by the veteran Philipp Lahm, this defense may threaten the record set Bundesliga record for fewest goals conceded in a season set by the 2007/08 Bayern Munich squad at 21.

Borussia Dortmund Struggles

There's been a lot of discussion about Dortmund's struggles this season, and the majority of people fall back to the summer transfer of Nuri Şahin. Of course losing a player of Şahin's quality was going to have an impact in such a young team. The bigger issue for me has been the finishing of the front four. Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Kevin Grobkreutz, and Mario Gotze have struggled to score the many chances they create. I don't have have the stats here in front of me, but is there is a club in the Bundesliga that creates as many goal scoring opportunities as Dortmund? The return of Lucas Barrios from injury should be a huge boost to the side. I'm glad to see Jurgen Klopp move to starting Ivan Perisic over the struggling Grobkreutz. Perisic adds a creativity to the attack that Grobkreutz just doesn't have. Still, they only sit six points back of leaders Bayern. Don't count them out of anything.

Hamburg Finally Sacks Michael Oenning

Hamburg is a big club in Germany. How on earth did Carl-Edgar Jarchow and Frank Arnesen need six matches to decide that Michael Oenning needed to be fired? The team is awful defensively, with the league's worst goal differential at -11. When hired as the sporting director in the spring, Arnesen set out to make the team more like England's Chelsea FC. Little did Hamburg supporters realize that Arnesen really meant "bring in Chelsea reserve players". Michael Mancienne, Jeffrey Bruma, Slobodan Rajkovic, and youth team product Gokhan Tore were brought over form Chelsea. Yeah, a collective "Who?" came up from all of you, I know. That group isn't really the cream of the crop. The big issue with Arnesen's first summer was the appointment of Oenning. They had one point after six matches. One point. Since Oenning's dismissal, Hamburg defeated Stuttgart and put in a decent performance before falling to Schalke. Rodolfo Cardoso was appointed caretaker manager, and it will be a massively important decision on who is name the permanent manager.

Papiss Cisse Can't Save Freiburg

The Senegalese forward was angling for a move this summer to a bigger club anywhere. That move never materialized, and he was forced to stick around in Freiburg for at least another six months. The defense may be getting scored on left, right, and center, but Papiss Cisse can't stop scoring. After finishing with 22 goals last season, he's already scored 6 times this year. When you add in his two assists, Cisse has been involved in 61% of their goals. As Hamburg gets their feet under them as the season progresses, we'll see Freiburg sliding into that relegation zone. I think we all agree that Augsburg are going down whether they believe it or not. The question begins with which team will fall into that second automatic relegation position: Freiburg or Kaiserslautern.

Borussia Mönchengladbach's Surprise Start

They may have needed the relegation/promotion playoff last year to stay in the first division, but they came out of the gates at full speed this year. Gladbach won their opening match at Bayern Munich and then defeated Stuttgart and Wolfsburg at home. Currently they're in third place. While they have only scored 9 goals so far this season, only Bayern have conceded less goals. We'll find out exactly how good they can be with the first three matches after the international break. They host Bayer Leverkusen, travel to Hoffenheim, and host Hannover 96. If you haven't had the opportunity to watch them this year, please do. The play of Marco Reus in midfield and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal will leave you impressed.

Claudio Pizarrro & Raul Showing Old Guys Got Game

The 33 year old Peruvian and 34 year old Spaniard are showing once again just how much class they have. Claudio Pizarro leads Werder Bremen with 6 goals, and Raul Gonzales is second in goals for Schalke with 4 goals. There was a worry among Schalke fans that Raul could've been on his way out this summer, but cooler heads prevailed and he remained. His ability to drop deep really helps open things up for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who leads the team with 7 goals. Pizarro has received some help from Marko Arnautovic and Markus Rosenborg as both have 3 goals each. The veteran striker will be critical to Bremen's chances to remain in a European place as the year progresses.

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