From record-breakers to club-savers, the 2019/20 Bundesliga season will be remembered for more than just its eagerness to return following the COVID-19 outbreak. It was a season with a twist at every turn, and the storylines flooded in right until the final whistle on matchday 34.
Here I take a look at the best and worst of Germany’s top-flight this season:
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich:
31-year-old Robert Lewandowski had the season of his life for Bayern Munich. The Pole set a new personal best of goals scored in a single season, with an astonishing 34 goals in 31 appearances – only six shy of the Bundesliga record set by Gerd Muller way back in 1971/72.
To top it all off, Lewandowski will go home with a minimum of two medals around his neck for the second consecutive season: Bundesliga champions and DFB Pokal winners. The striker is still in with a chance of winning the Champions League too, as Bayern rest on a 3-0 aggregate advantage over Chelsea in the quarterfinals.
Dedryck Boyata, Hertha BSC:
Belgian centre-back Dedryck Boyata enjoyed a successful season with Hertha BSC. The 29-year-old boasted seven clean sheets in 28 matches for Die Alte Dame and even found the net on four occasions.
Boyata proved to be difficult to beat both in the air and on the carpet, as he combined his staggering height (6’2”) with his defensive versatility and experience. He was a major part of Hertha’s revival and has brought the likes of young Jordan Torunarigha a long way with his journeyman expertise.
Bruno Labbadia, Hertha BSC (manager):
Hertha BSC were in a dire state when the vastly experienced Bruno Labbadia took over in April. Six points above relegation and playing uninspired football, Labbadia turned the fortune of the side on its head and pulled off an incredible string of results in his opening fixtures, going unbeaten in his first four – three of which came with clean sheets.
Hertha finished the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign in 10th, well clear of the once-looming drop and at one point had a shout at European qualification. With a series of marquee names rumoured to be interested in a move to the capital, continental football may be on the cards very soon.
Klaus Gjasula, Paderborn 07:
Albanian Klaus Gjasula had a season to forget with Paderborn. On his first term in top-flight football, the defensive midfielder etched his name into the Bundesliga record books with a mistimed lunge against Werder Bremen that produced his 17th yellow card of the campaign.
Adding insult to injury, Paderborn were relegated with several matches remaining and finished their brief tenure in the Bundesliga firmly rooted to the foot of the table, earning just 20 points from 34 fixtures and conceding 74 goals.
Milot Rashica, Werder Bremen:
First and foremost, it is not necessarily the job of a winger to score goals. They tend to create, but, unfortunately for 24-year-old Milot Rashica, he failed to do either for much of the season. He appeared 28 times in regular Bundesliga fixtures and played in both playoff legs against Heidenheim. In these 30 games, the Kosovan scored just eight goals and only assisted a further seven.
Following the restart in May, Rashica chalked up a total of 717 minutes’ game time, in which he scored once and assisted thrice. An output of one assist every two-and-a-half matches is hardly what Florian Kohfeldt’s Bremen side wanted, particularly as they were caught in a relegation battle all this time.
David Wagner, Schalke 04 (manager):
David Wagner is probably the least surprising entry on this list. The German-born American had a torrid end to the season with Schalke, as Die Konigsblauen went winless in 17. Wagner’s side slumped to seven losses from nine matches following the restart of the league, with a heavy loss to rivals Borussia Dortmund and a defeat at the hands of since-relegated Fortuna Dusseldorf among the results.
Schalke settled on an uninspiring 12th position in the table, and Wagner could well be in fear of his job security if he fails to turn the heavyweight club around next season. With first-choice goalkeeper Alexander Nubel packing his bags and heading to Bayern Munich over the summer, Wagner is presented with a golden opportunity to rebuild his team defensively in time for a fresh start.