The German Football Weekly: Issue #2
Free weekly newsletter highlighting some the biggest news, and headlines from the beautiful game on German soil
by Adam Khan on August 13
The 59th Bundesliga season got off to a cracking start last weekend, brimming with controversial VAR decisions, an Erling Haaland masterclass, and the inspirational touchline antics of Bo Svensson!
Expanding on my regular commitments for breakingthelines.com, for this upcoming season I bring to you a weekly German Football newsletter.
Whilst the length, and components are subject to change, every Friday you will be greeted by a new newsletter in your inbox, discussing some of the biggest news, and headlines from the beautiful game on German soil.
And just one week in we already have a new feature, with the German Football Newsletter delighted to welcome the Euro Expert and his exceptional video content! Look out for his player analysis’ this season!
With that said, I hope you enjoy ISSUE #12 and for any suggestions or comments feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply send me a DM on twitter!
RB Leipzig: Outside Shouts or Title Favorites?
It was a bold decision when last Thursday I tweeted my Bundesliga predictions and had RB Leipzig finishing in 1st place.
Some would even call it foolish after their uninspiring opening day defeat to a Mainz 05 side plighted by COVID-19 cases, but I refuse to let my opinions sway on the basis of one performance.
RB Leipzig WILL lift the Meisterschale this season, and here’s why!
Between September 18, 2020 & May 22, 2021 FC Bayern played 50 competitive football matches, an average of a game every 4.92 days.
And, this isn’t even including the numerous international friendlies and European Championship which almost all of Bayern’s squad took part in.
Football is no longer a weekend affair between neighboring rivals, but an international money-making machine, one which requires a constant churn of fixtures and competitions to keep up with the modern appetite.
The strategy to bank on a first XI and pray away injury misfortune is no longer sustainable in an era where the game’s top athletes almost unanimously compete in 50-60 competitive matches each season.
A look at FC Bayern’s current squad displays massive warning signs in regard to next season’s intense fixture list, with the reigning German Champions boasting the joint second smallest roster of any Bundesliga team (26).
Whilst other clubs like Arminia Bielefeld (24) & SC Freiburg (26) can get away with this model as they only compete on the domestic front and field relatively few internationals, a powerhouse like FC Bayern is playing on borrowed time with such a small roster.
Injuries, COVID-19 cases, or a simple drop in form can all have devastating effects on Bayern’s capacity to retain the Bundesliga title with a thin squad and a bench that doesn’t have suitable like-for-like replacements in midfield & defense.
On the other hand, this is precisely what makes RB Leipzig’s squad so interesting, with Jesse Marsch inheriting a roster which is not just scattered with tremendous quality, but blessed with the depth in personnel to oversee a title challenge across an entire season.
Not only does Leipzig have a roster of 31 players compared to Bayern’s 26, but amongst these 31, 23 of them have a Est. market value at or above €10.00m (FC Bayern has 17).
Marsch isn't overseeing a large squad whose depth comes primarily in the form of unproven academy talent, but a talented, hungry roster where each player has the quality to slot into the lineup when called upon.
Whilst we could easily go through every position to help accentuate the point, a simple look at the two sides' midfield depth puts in plain sight the advantage with which Leipzig enters the season.
Though Kimmich and Goretzka arguably formed the best partnership in world football last season, Bayern's alternatives consist of the injury prone pair of Marc Roca and Corentin Tolisso.
This lack of depth and interchangeability at FC Bayern is reflected in the contrasting distribution of minutes between the two sides last season.
At Leipzig,four of the five central midfielders highlighted above played more than 1800 minutes in the past Bundesliga season.
At FC Bayern only Joshua Kimmich exceeded 1800 minutes in central midfield, with Leon Goretzka 100 minutes shy of the mark, and Roca and Tolisso missing it by more than 1000.
Nagelsmann has a clear first choice pairing, but beyond that his alternatives are far from what one would associate with a side that won a European Treble less than 18 months ago.
Put simple: RB Leipzig is set up for a marathon, whilst Bayern are primed for a 100 yard dash. In a head to head battle between Marsch & Nagelsmann’s preferred 11s you would be foolish not to pick FCB, but across a 34 match season when fatigue and injuries inevitably begins to take a toll it is RB Leipzig who are better prepared to go the distance!
But who do you think will ultimately take home the Meisterschale this May? Let me know on twitter with the #BUNDESLETTER hashtag!
Magic Bo Svensson & The Mainz Revival
With 14 corona related absences, and a lumped together squad which undertook its first training session just two days before kickoff, nobody gave Mainz 05 a hope in hell of beating RB Leipzig on Sunday.
Yet, miracles have become the norm at the MEWA Arena in recent months, and Sunday’s 1:0 victory was just the latest master stroke in the exciting era of Bo Svensson.
When the 42-year old Dane arrived last January nobody expected anything but the club’s first relegation since 2007.
Joint-bottom with Schalke after amassing just 7 points in their first 18 matches, Die Nullfünfer were on course for one of the worst Bundesliga seasons of all time.
Fans had the impression that players increasingly viewed the club as a springboard for their own careers, whilst any leaders or identity figures had been shunned by previous management and left to rot on the sidelines.
When Svensson arrived earlier this year he was greeted by a locker room dull and lifeless, resembling none of the carnival spirit and optimism which Mainz embodied in his own 7 years playing for the club.
Thus it wasn’t just a footballing revolution that was required, but a complete personality overhaul, with Svensson finding ways for player’s to believe in their qualities again, and ridding the club of the self-centered egos who didn’t embody Mainz’s family values.
And on the football pitch the Danish manager embodied equally bold ideas, undoubtedly molded from his time working under the likes of Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp.
Whilst other managers in his position would have resorted to a rigid defensive approach that looked to minimize the damage, Svensson went all in with heavy pressing, quick transitions, and front-foot attacking football.
It took a while before Svensson’s ideas took shape, but slowly Die Nullfünfer began showing signs of life, with Svensson’s philosophy and personality bearing life within the squad.
By the end of the ruckrunde (the second half of the season) Mainz 05 had picked up a whopping 32 points, a total which multiplied across the entire campaign would have been enough to reach the Champions League.
With a youthful squad which was balanced with the leadership from club icons like Adam Szalai, Stefan Bell, and Danny Latza, Mainz would suffer just 3 defeats in the final 18 matchdays, even beating FC Bayern & RB Leipzig in the process.
Whereas Schalke would continue their rot up until the final whistle of matchday 34, Mainz looked like an entirely new entity in the Spring, striding with self-confidence and belief.
With club icons in the backroom staff, and Bo Svensson leading the charge, Mainz 05 aren’t just tipped to survive their 13th topflight season in a row, but could even potentially compete for Europe.
The victory over Leipzig has shown once again that the work Svensson has done wasn’t just a flash in the pan. With Mainz’s next two fixtures coming against VFL Bochum & Greuther Fürth, we could just see this surprise package from the MEWA-Arena topping the table ahead of the first international break!
But how far do you think Bo Svensson can take this Mainz 05 side? Let me know on twitter with the #BUNDESLETTER hashtag!
Euro Expert’s Talent Watch:
The renowned Euro Expert is making his newsletter debut this week with an informative video on Mainz 05’s captain Moussa Niakhaté. Definitely One to watch!
TALENT SCORE: 7/10
Niakhaté is a decent age and well proven in the Bundesliga. He profiles similarly to a player like Antonio Rudiger in that he can aggressively press from defence but is still able to get back into position quickly. His passing stats are also pretty impressive and should only improve as he gets older!
However, he isn’t the complete package just yet.
As Mainz 05 are primarily a counter attacking / high pressing outfit, we haven't seen Niakhaté in a side which dominate possession over extended periods.
The Frenchman could also still slightly improve on his 1v1 defending, as adding this to his game would definitively silence any of the doubts that he isn’t ready for the step up to a team fighting for titles and European football!
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Saturday 20:30 (CEST): Hansa Rostock v Dynamo Dresden
Hansa Rostock v Dynamo Dresden may not be the scintillating showpiece of last week’s GOTW between Gladbach & Bayern, but the East German derbies' historical significance and fan scene are more than enough to give it the nod this time around!
Whilst neither Dynamo nor Hansa have featured in the German topflight since 2008, both sides rank amongst the most decorated outfits to come from the former East German GDR Liga.
Dynamo Dresden earned their reputation through an impressive 8 league titles and 7 domestic cups between 1970-89, while Hansa Rostock entered German folklore after completing a league and cup double in the final season before the country folded.
As both Dynamo & Hansa’s trophy cabinets continue to gather dust in recent years, it has been less the on-field performances which have garnered international attention, but the impressive fan scene which both clubs have to offer.
With a rugged terrace culture where passion hangs dangerously in the balance with hooliganism, Dresden come into the season as the 17th most supported club in all of German football, whilst Hansa Rostock trail only slightly behind with more than 16,000 members (more than 6 current Bundesliga sides).
Whether fighting for survival in the breaches of Germany’s third tier, or slowly making the ascent back to the topflight, these two East German giants are guaranteed to show up in their thousands for football, beer, and everything in between!
But let's look at the 90 minutes on the pitch for a second, because despite an off-season where many tipped both clubs to struggle, the early signs have been extremely promising!
Both Hansa & Dynamo have progressed to the second round in the DFB Pokal, and sit comfortably in the top half of the Zweite Bundesliga after 3 matchdays.
Dynamo Dresden have even made themselves an outside shout for promotion, entering the fourth matchday in second place after thumping both Ingolstadt and Hannover, and taking an away point off HSV.
Whether Dresden can continue their high-flying start in the imposing atmosphere at the Ostseestadion (29,000 capacity, 9,000 of which are standing only) will have to be seen.
Dresden won this fixture comfortably last season, although the major caveat remains that on that November afternoon none of Rostock’s hostile home support were present.
Bundesliga GOTW: Saturday 18:30 (CEST): Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Mönchengladbach
3. Bundesliga GOTW: Saturday 14:00 (CEST): 1.FC Kaiserslautern v TSV 1860 München
++TWITTER THREAD THURSDAYS++
In this week's edition I went all in on every Bundesliga club’s most underrated player.
And that’s a wrap for this week!
I hope you enjoyed ISSUE #2 of the Bundesliga Newsletter. I want to first and foremost thank you for taking the time to read through it, and hope to see you back here again when ISSUE #2 drops next Friday!
Special shoutout again to Euro Expert for coming on this week! You can find his work on breakingthelines.com, or on his youtube channel HERE!
If you would like to contribute to the newsletter, or would like to get in contact regarding any partnerships, feel free to reach out to email@example.com, or simply send me a DM on twitter!
Enjoy the upcoming week of German football, and I hope some of you take the opportunity to tune into the East German Derby we highlighted above!