With the tides turning, the 2018/19 campaign is gearing up to be a defining one for the Bundesliga. At the halfway stage, DW looks at the big questions set to be answered in the second half of the season.
With its reputation enhanced thanks to entertainment value alone, the tides are turning in the Bundesliga. No longer is Bayern Munich’s dominance the only talking point on the front pages of newspapers and websites around the world.
Read more: Bundesliga 2018/19 half-time review
Ahead of the start of the second half of the season, DW takes a look at five major questions being asked heading into the Rückrunde of the most pulsating campaigns of the last decade.…
Do we have ourselves a Bundesliga title race?
Not to be too like the meme of Rose from Titanic, but it seems like an age since we last had a competitive Bundesliga title race. Bayern’s title-winning exploits have been impressive, but have only stoked the fires of those hoping to see them fail in their bid for a seventh-straight Meisterschale
Unlike the last six seasons, Niko Kovac’s side aren’t league leaders at the halfway stage of the campaign. Borussia Dortmund took that honor as their brand of football sent pulses racing, whilst thrusting them into the role of heroic protagonist against the Bavarians’ tyrannous hegemony.
While Gladbach and Leipzig are keeping things interesting, hopes are being pinned on BVB. Their six-point cushion needs to be protected ahead of Der Klassiker in Munich on matchday 28 – a crucial game for keeping their title hopes, and the title race, alive.
Read more: Uli Hoeness is no longer fit for Bayern Munich
Can the Bundesliga keep the floodgates open?
From Luka Jovic’s five-goal haul against Düsseldorf to Fortuna’s Dodi Lukebakio becoming the first player to ever score a Bundesliga hat-trick against Manuel Neuer, the first half of the season was riddled with goals and their subsequent storylines.
The last time six sides had 30 goals or more to their name after Matchday 17 was the 2013/14 campaign – eight sides achieved the feat that season – this season Dortmund lead the way with 44.
With just eight of a possible 153 games ending goalless, Germany’s top flight boasted no less than 3.04 goals per game in the Hinrunde, which puts it top in terms of goals-per-game amongst Europe’s top five leagues. If that’s not entertainment value, then what is? More of the same, please!
Read more: 2018/19 January transfer window overview
How big a role will rising stars play?
Germany’s top flight has always been a place where rising prospects have been able to realize their potential at an early age. Even by Bundesliga standards, this season has been rich in under-21s rising to the occasion.
Luka Jovic’s goalscoring exploits have been jaw-dropping, Kai Havertz is operating at “level 29” – significantly higher than most of his Leverkusen teammates – and Reiss Nelson and Jadon Sancho have captured the attention of the English press, which speaks volumes.
With the likes of Alphosno Davies, Josh Sargent and maybe Callum Hudson-Odoi ready to burst onto the scene, the impact of youth is not likely to diminish and there are plenty of headlines left to be grabbed.
Is Lewandowski’s Torjägerkanone crown at risk?
Absolutely. Robert Lewandowski is one of five players to have broken double digits in the first half of the season, but he trails the league leaders Paco Alcacer and the aforementioned Jovic by two.
Competition has brought the best out of the Pole in the past – reference his reaction to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s efforts – and he’s going to need to be on the top of his game given the rate at which some of his fiercest rivals are scoring at.
It would be quite something if Alcacer (42 minutes per goal) and Jovic (84) went a whole season needing less than 90 minutes per goal.
Whose head will be the next to roll?
Tayfun Korkut and Heiko Herrlich were the only head coaches to be shown the door before the winter break, but more heads will undoubtedly roll before the campaign’s conclusion.
The relegation battle looks set to be fierce this season and, while Hannover and Nürnberg are at risk of falling adrift, plenty of coaches could find themselves in the hot seat.
Domenico Tedesco is amongst the bookies favorites and you’ve got to think, if the Royal Blues form doesn’t improve and quickly, he may not be able to hold onto the reigns much longer.