Bundesliga Grades: How Have the Teams Performed This Season

Bayern Featured

Bayern Munich Grade = A

Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title last season and deservedly so, finishing two points clear of Dortmund. Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard were brought in to bolster an already stingy defence, and Ivan Perisic joined on-loan from Inter to cover for the outgoing Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.

However, this season didn’t start as smoothly as expected, with Niko Kovac losing his job in November after a humbling 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, left them fourth in the league. His assistant manager, Hansi Flick, took over and they have gone from strength to strength from there.

Though the German manager, holds the distinction of serving as Joachim Löw’s assistant, during Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning run, it is his stint at Bayern, as a midfielder from 1985-1990, that has proved key to his seamless transition, to the position of head coach. He has ushered in a new era at the club by smoothly navigating the transition period. The blending of experience and youth has resulted in the emergence of a potent outfit, that looked set to continue Bayern’s dominance of the Bundesliga and mount a serious challenge for the Champions League.

They are currently top of the league and look set to add another Bundesliga championship, to their already stacked trophy cabinet.

Dortmund Featured

Borussia Dortmund Grade = A

Borussia Dortmund were nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, at one point last season, but eventually finished two points behind Bayern Munich in second place. They were expected to further push for a league title this campaign. They were even tagged as favourites by some experts, but a humbling 4-0 defeat against Bayern Munich, highlighted the gulf between the two clubs, as Lucien Favre’s men, were in a battle for a top four finish at Christmas.

However, the smart January acquisitions, of Erling Haaland and Emre Can, bolstered their performances, as Haaland scored nine goals in his first eight matches.

Dortmund’s return of form, has now once again, put them in contention for the league title, with the club trailing the leaders by just four points. They are due to play the Bavarians in two weeks time – a fixture that could potentially put them into the driving seat, although the main objective, will be not to get obliterated, as was the case in the reverse fixture.

RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig Grade = A

RB Leipzig comfortably finished third in the table last season. Highly-rated young coach Julian Nagelsmann took over in the summer, who twice led Hoffenheim to the Champions League. The club added more young talent to the squad this summer, with Ademola Lookman, Christopher Nkunku, Hannes Wolf, Luan Cândido and Ethan Ampadu all joining.

True to their nickname, they charged out of the block like red bulls in a china shop. The first five games brought almost a full house with four wins and a draw — against Bayern Munich — before the maiden defeat on Matchday 6, at home to Schalke, slammed on the brakes at the start of a winless stretch of four matches. But talk about bouncing back. A club record 8-0 dismissal of Mainz, on Matchday 10, heralded a fabulous run of form. Nagelsmann's men ran riot, scoring 34 times in an eight-game streak that saw them win every fixture bar the 3-3 thriller away at Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 16.

A slight dip in form has moved them to third in the table but they are still looking to push Bayern all the way, in their pursuit for the championship. Along with their progress in the Bundesliga, Leipzig have also been going strong in the UEFA Champions League. Having topped the group that also consisted of Benfica, Olympique Lyon and Zenit St. Petersburg, Leipzig toppled Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur in the Round of 16, quite comfortably.

Monchengladbach Schalke

Borussia Monchengladbach Grade = A

Borussia Mönchengladbach occupied fourth spot for the majority of last season, but ultimately had to settle for a Europa League place. Marco Rose, took over as manager from Dieter Hecking and talented youngsters - Breel Embolo and Marcus Thuram, were added during the transfer window.

Gladbach became one of the most exciting teams in Europe and they have the results to back that claim up. They started the season slowly, as most expected them to. However, they quickly capitalised on the messy onset of the objectively stronger teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. By the time Matchday 7 ended, Gladbach were on the top of the Bundesliga table, grabbing the attention of the world.

Currently, they are fourth in the table with 49 points, two clear of Bayer Leverkusen, who are knocking on the door - looking for a Champions League spot. With six points separating them and Bayern Munich, Marco Rose and Co will be dreaming of winning the Bundesliga.

Mainz Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen Grade = B

Bayer Leverkusen spent some time around the relegation zone last season until Peter Bosz came in and revolutionised how they were performing. They have carried this on with them sitting fifth in the league and only two points off fourth. Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri and Moussa Diaby were added to the Leverkusen squad after Julian Brandt left for Dortmund.

In the 7 times they have come up against clubs from the top 6 (Bayern, Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Gladbach, Leverkusen, and Schalke – for non-viewers), Leverkusen have only lost twice – once against Gladbach and Dortmund each. Furthermore, they’ve held off Leipzig to a 1-1 standstill both home and away.

With eight points separating them and Bayern Munich, they are by no means out of the title race with 27 points to play for.

Schalke Featured

Schalke Grade = A

Schalke were one of the Bundesliga’s most unfortunate teams last season, as they finished fifth from bottom. This led to the appointment of former Huddersfield manager, David Wagner.

had to play canny in the transfer market. 'Bargain' was the watchword of the summer with Jonjoe Kenny (Everton) borrowed, goalkeeper Markus Schubert snapped up on a free from Dynamo Dresden, and Benito Raman a sensibly priced purchase from Fortuna Düsseldorf. Schalke did spend big once: Ozan Kabak, Stuttgart's teenage centre-back who impressed hugely last season, will surely offset his fee and more should he leave in the future, though. With purse-strings still held tightly in January, Jean-Clair Todibo (Barcelona) and Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg) were equally shrewd additions to the squad.

Schalke had made a strong start to the season but a winless seven-game streak that has seen them take just four points has ruined the mood around the place. It's a miserable run that leaves them 10 points off fifth, just a point ahead of the chasing pack, and their ambitions of European football next season hanging perilously in the balance.

Despite this, sixth place is a massive improvement on last seasons 14th and Wagner will be keen for his team to remain in the top six.

Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg Grade = A

With Bruno Labbadia stepping down after leading his team to sixth in the standings and a return to European football, Oliver Glasner was tasked with building on his predecessor's impressive 14-month spell in charge.

Glasner got off to a great start as the Wolves were second after Matchday 8, using a fresh 3-4-3 formation to set a club record run without defeat at the start of a season.

However, a drop off in form has led them to seventh in the league whilst they have made it to the last 16 of the Europa League. In their final game before the league was suspended, Wolfsburg held high-flying RB Leipzig to a scoreless draw. That suggests that Glasner's charges are well primed to push for another top-six finish.

Freiburg Grade = A

Freiburg were extremely fortunate to survive the drop in the Bundesliga last season as they stayed up with eight points separating them and the drop zone. However, with advanced plans in the works for a shiny new out-of-town stadium with room for over 10,000 more spectators, simply maintaining the status quo was not the only item on the to-do list. Instead, Freiburg were looking to establish themselves as a Bundesliga side, ideally in the top half of the table, with the dream of European football.

Streich's side were eighth at the halfway stage of the season, just two points behind Leverkusen in sixth. However, things began to unravel after the winter break. Freiburg beat Mainz 2-1 in their first game of the new year, one of just three victories in 2020, but subsequently lost to relegation strugglers Paderborn and Cologne. Overall, they lost four times prior to the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, scoring just seven times in eight games.

With nine games remaining, Freiburg are just one point off sixth place and they may feel confident that they can get in that illustrious top six.

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim Grade = B

They entered this season undergoing a massive overhaul of both players and staff. Kerem Demirbay, Nico Schulz and Nadiem Amiri all joined other Bundesliga clubs, while Joelinton signed for Newcastle in a £40 million deal. Perhaps most importantly, Julian Nagelsmann and much of his backroom staff moved to RB Leipzig, leaving Hoffenheim in what has become somewhat of a transitional period for Hoffenheim. However, AndreJ Kramaric and Ishak Belfodil stayed at the club and were joined by the exciting Danish winger Robert Skov from FC Copenhagen.

Hoffenheim have beaten Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen this season but it hasn't all been plain sailing as they are ninth in the league. Hoffenheim will content themselves with being closer to the European chase than the relegation zone, with an eye on further progress for next season.

Cologne Grade = A

Cologne quickly bounced back to the Bundesliga after being relegated in 2017/18, finishing 6 points clear at the top of Bundesliga Zwei. Achim Beierlorzer's side had no problems in attack last season, scoring 84 goals in just 34 games, and concentrated on strengthening defensively with the signings of Ellyes Skhiri, Kingsley Ehizibue and Sebastiaan Bornauw.

Five defeats in the first six matches left the promoted side in a spot of bother, but an injury-time equaliser from Jonas Hector at Schalke and a 3-0 win over Paderborn hinted that things were turning around. By the end of Matchday 11, though, Beierlorzer had already been dismissed.

Markus Gisdol, who had saved both Hoffenheim and Hamburg from relegation in the past, was appointed in mid-November.

Just before the break, a brilliant comeback away to Eintracht Frankfurt and Cordoba’s vital winner at home to fellow strugglers Bremen made it three wins from three. Gisdol’s side were suddenly out of the relegation zone as the league shutdown for the winter break.

Union Berlin Grade = A*

Union Berlin secured a return to the top flight the hard way, winning the Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off against VfB Stuttgart. After drawing the first leg 2-2  away from home, a tense 0-0 draw in the second leg ensured promotion on away goals.

For their first season in the top flight, expectations weren’t high and the objective was to just survive but their performances have been much better than expected and they are 11th in the league.

It’s been very much a collective effort for Union, whose work rate and more-than-the-sum-of-their-parts attitude has lifted them to a snug mid-table position. Another year of top-flight football now looks all but certain.

Frankfurt Featured

Eintracht Frankfurt Grade = B

Eintracht Frankfurt were in pole position to finish fourth in the Bundesliga last season, before picking up just two points from their last 6 games to finally finish in 7th place. Adi Hütter's side entered this season having had their squad picked apart over the summer, losing Luka Jovic to Real Madrid and Sebastien Haller to West Ham.

Over two thirds of the way into 2019/20, it's looking like Eintracht Frankfurt may have to win the DFB Cup if they're to secure a third successive season of European football.

Three defeats on the spin - 4-0 losses to Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, either side of 2-1 home reverse at the hands of promoted Union Berlin - leave them with nine points to claw back on sixth-in-the-table Schalke with nine rounds of fixtures to go.

On a more positive note, a third DFB Cup final appearance in four years is on the cards - though Eintracht will have to oust holders Bayern to get there.

Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin Grade = C

A poor start to the season for Hertha Berlin saw them lose 4-0 to Augsburg on Matchday 12 and it led to Covic being sacked. In a surpise move Jürgen Klinsmann, the ex-Germany, Bayern and USA coach, took charge of the first team after stepping out of his role on Hertha's advisory board. There was a four-game unbeaten bounce heading into the winter break that lifted spirits and the side into 12th, putting them tantalisingly within touching distance of the top half of the table.

Come 11 February, however, Klinsmann was gone, his assistant - former Werder Bremen boss Alexander Nouri - was in charge, and Hertha's season was in tatters. While the 4-0 home loss to Bayern to start 2020 was not a huge surprise, the 5-0 defeat in the Olympiastadion to Cologne was the nadir of the new year which has seen Hertha win just twice.

A season that started with so much promise has faltered for Hertha Berlin and they are not out of the relegation fight just yet.

Augsburg Grade = B

Augsburg finished in 15th place last season, just four points above the relegation play-off spot and a similar season has followed. Summer 2019 was busy one at the WWK Arena as 14 senior players left and 16 signed on as part of a reshuffle under head coach Martin Schmidt, who had arrived to steer the club to safety in the final six games of the 2018/19 campaign.

At Christmas Augsburg were confident of a top half finish but with just one victory and four points from their first eight games of the new year, Augsburg had the worst return of any Bundesliga side. The club consequently parted ways with Schmidt in a bid to stem the tide, appointing former Bayer Leverkusen boss Heiko Herrlich in his stead.

They are just five points above the relegation spots and will be keen to further themselves from the dreaded drop zone.

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Mainz Grade = C

There was a large turnover of players at the Opel Arena over the summer as they sought to compensate for the loss of 11 players through sales, retirement and expired contracts. Nine new faces were brought in, while left-back Aaron Martin’s loan deal from Espanyol was made permanent

Mainz suffered the heaviest defeat in their professional history with an 8-0 loss at RB Leipzig. A 3-2 reverse at home to Union Berlin the following week in November spelled the end of Schwarz’s tenure. Having himself just been dismissed by Cologne, Achim Beierlorzer was named the new head coach and got off to a perfect start with a 5-1 win away at Hoffenheim.

A 1-1 draw at home to 16th-placed Fortuna Düsseldorf in the final game before the suspension of play saw Beierlorzer’s side maintain a four-point gap over their opponents in the relegation play-off spot.

Fortuna Düsseldorf Grade = B

After comfortably surviving their first season back in the big time in 2018/19, Fortuna Düsseldorf were looking to maintain their progress in the Bundesliga this season.

They're far from down and out yet with nine games to play in 2019/20, but things certainly haven't gone as planned in Düsseldorf. Six defeats in the opening seven games of the campaign was far from planned. In fact, Fortuna won only four games before the winter break and headed into the new year in the relegation play-off spot, just three points ahead of Paderborn at the bottom of the pile.

After defeats at home to relegation rivals Werder Bremen and away to Bayer Leverkusen without scoring, Funkel was out and Uwe Rösler was in.

The former Bundesliga player was given his first job as a manager in the league, and the club's upswing in form in the games since then would suggest that the change has been successful so far. In his six games at the helm, Fortuna have suffered just a single defeat – to title-chasing Borussia Mönchengladbach – while drawing four times, and registering one win.

With the likes of Bayern Munich (a), Borussia Dortmund (h), Schalke (h) and RB Leipzig (h) all to play before the end of the season, the going will be tough for Rösler and his side to secure automatic safety.

Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen Grade = F

Having gone so close to a return to Europe after a nine-year absence last term, Werder launched into the new campaign with genuine designs on another tilt at the top six.

With nine rounds of fixtures remaining, Werder sit in 17th place, four points behind relegation play-off spot incumbents Fortuna Düsseldorf and eight adrift of outright safety. Twenty-seven goals scored is a joint-league low shared with rock-bottom Paderborn; 55 conceded represents an unwanted league high. The honeymoon period is well and truly over for coach Florian Kohfeldt. Werder's 39-year Bundesliga stay could be, too, at this rate. Many will be surprised that Kohfeldt is still the manager but the Werder Bremen hierarchy will be hoping that their faith in him, will be rewarded.

Paderborn Grade = C

Paderborn had enjoyed back-to-back promotions from the third division all the way to the Bundesliga, so there was no surprise to see them bolster their squad for just their second season of top-flight football. With expectation slow, Paderborn have played with freedom and have entertained neutrals this season.

A haul of 10 points from six games across the new year failed to move Steffen Baumgart’s valiant troops, who have openly stuck to the style of play that saw them secure back-to-back promotions, out of the bottom two. It’s seen them score in all but five of their 25 matches, as well as two in both of their games against Bayern Munich – only Eintracht Frankfurt have netted more against the champions this season. It’s at the other end wwhere the problem lies with the second-leakiest defence in the division.

A valiant effort from Paderborn looks set to end in disappointment as they are stuck at bottom of the league with only 16 points from 25 games.

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