Every year up to 6 million tourists arrive in the city of Munich to celebrate the world’s largest fair and to enjoy Bavaria’s finestweisswurst, hendl, schweinebraten and of course, beer at Oktoberfest. For Bayern Munich fans, last year’s event started a party that has yet to stop. At this stage in 2012, Juup Heynckes had led Die Bayern to the top of the Bundesliga with a record of six straight league victories from their opening six games. The team then went on to achieve an historic treble by claiming the UEFA Champions League, the German Cup and the league.
Fast forward 365 days and the fun times have not stopped in Germany’s third largest city. This weekend gave an extra reason for Pep Guardiola and his side to enjoy their annual trip to the festival after the club found itself on top of the Bundesliga once again. Rivals and previous pace-setters Borussia Dortmund fell to a 2-0 away defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach which meant that Bayern’s 1-1 draw with fellow Champions League qualifiers, Bayer Leverkusen who now sit third, was enough to lift them into first place.
Champions League runners up BVB had started the new season in imperious fashion with manager Jürgen Klopp incorporating new high profile signings Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan seamlessly into their high pressing style. Bayern bound striker Robert Lewandowski looks to have put his summer transfer issues behind him after notching six goals already while Aubameyang and the magnificent Marco Reus have five and four respectively. Die schwarzgelben were the front runners in the league up until their recent defeat following six wins in their opening seven games that featured three games with the club scoring four or more goals than the opposition.
At the other end of the league table in the relegation zone are winless Nürnberg and Freiburg who have both lost 5-0 already in this campaign (Nürnberg fell to HSV while BVB hammered Freiburg). However neither side are bottom, that honour falls instead to newly promoted Eintracht Braunschweig who appear destined for a return to the second division with a goal difference of minus thirteen after just eight games.
Billionaire owned 1899 Hoffenheim are this year’s must watch team with their apparent addiction to adrenaline fuelled, fast paced, exciting games. They boast the second highest number of goals scored so far in the league (20) thanks to Anthony Modeste and their kamikaze attacking which in turn has opened up their defence to concede the league’s highest number of goals (also 20). Eight games into the season, and with standout score lines such as a pair of 3-3 draws, a 2-6 loss and a 5-1 win, they register a fan friendly five goals per game average.
Throughout the rest of the league there has been plenty of drama and goals also to further cement the Bundesliga’s place as the best league to watch for entertainment once again. Jermaine Jones of Schalke was reportedly suspended for eight weeks after intentionally stepping on an opponent’s foot while the club’s big transfer Kevin-Prince Boateng has settled immediately and netted three times in five games to help them overcome some indifferent early season form. Another team on the rise are Stuttgart with the league’s joint top goal scorer Vedad Ibišević who are unbeaten in their last five games, including three wins.
In the lower half of the table are two of the league’s more renowned stalwarts that are struggling at either end of the pitch. Wolfsburg lie in 14th with a surprising lack of firepower up front given the team includes the mercurial attacking midfielder Diego and Ivica Olić, to match the relatively tight defence. In the north of Germany, captain Rafael van der Vaart’s experience is needed at HSV who are doing their best to imitate Hoffenheim with seventeen goals scored but nineteen conceded and fresh from a 5-0 victory.
As the city of Munich now prepares for winter and begins to turn its attention toward planning for Oktoberfest 2014, fans of the Bundesliga are eyeing another date before the year closes, Saturday 23rd November. On that day Borussia Dortmund will host Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola will experience the German equivalent of ‘El Clasico’. The league may not be decided on that date but it will certainly show us if BVB have made enough improvements to put an end to the year long party in Bavaria.