Bundesliga 2017/18 review


On the surface it looks like another routine Bundesliga season, with Bayern Munich claiming a sixth straight title for the first time in their history.

However, dig a little deeper and you will see a campaign full of intrigue and one which ended with Hamburg making some very unwanted history.

But we have to start with Bayern, who were crowned champions by a massive 19-point margin and who are already highly fancied at 1.15 to make it seven championships in a row next season.

Bayern 1.15 to win Bundesliga in 2018/19

They will be led into that campaign by Niko Kovac, who arrives from Eintracht Frankfurt to succeed Jupp Heynckes, having helped his former club defeat Bayern in the final of the DFB-Pokal.

Star of the show yet again for FC Hollywood was Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who was leading scorer in the Bundesliga for the third time in five years, ending the campaign with 29 league goals to his name – almost double the tally of any other player.

Lewandowski, who has been heavily linked with a summer move, now has the task of trying to help his national team make an impact at the World Cup finals in Russia, where he is 29.00 to finish as top scorer in the tournament.

Germany 5.75 to win the 2018 World Cup

His Bayern team-mate Thomas Muller is 29.00 to be the leading scorer at the World Cup as he aims to help Germany defend the title they won in Brazil four years ago – with Die Mannschaft 5.75 to do just that.

A final factor to bear in mind when looking at another successful Bayern season is the fact that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer missed almost the whole of the campaign due to a foot injury which is still causing him problems ahead of the World Cup finals.

Meanwhile, the battle for Champions League places went right down to the wire in the Bundesliga, although Schalke avoided the logjam by making sure of second place in some style.

The Gelsenkirchen outfit are not a hot tip to go one better in 2018/19, as they are 29.00 to win the Bundesliga for the first time since 1958.

Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund eventually took third and fourth places respectively, with the latter at least emerging with something to show for a troubled season.

Borussia Dortmund 10.00 to win Bundesliga in 2018/19

BVB appointed Dutchman Peter Bosz as head coach last summer, but he was gone before Christmas, to be replaced by Peter Stoger, who managed an amazing job swap by being sacked by rock-bottom Koln, only to turn up at Dortmund a week later.

Add in the January exit of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal and it is easy to see just why Die Schwarzgelben were below-par for much of the time.

Stoger left at the end of the season and it will be up to Lucien Favre to try and mastermind a bid for honours next term, with BVB 10.00 to claim the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2012.

Meanwhile, Hoffenheim have plenty of reasons to be pleased with their efforts, especially as their saw striker Sandro Wagner leave the club in January to head to Bayern Munich.

A couple of Premier League misfits were key to Die Kraichgauer going well, with former Leicester City frontman Andrej Kramaric scoring 13 times in the league, while Arsenal reject Serge Gnabry reached double figures as he impressed while on loan from the champions.

Bayer Leverkusen were another team who fell short of expectations, as they could only finish fifth, from where they will have to make do with Europa League football next season.

RB Leipzig 26.00 to win Bundesliga in 2018/19

The same is true of RB Leipzig, who are 26.00 to win the Bundesliga next season, with them already planning ahead without the Liverpool-bound Naby Keita and much-admired head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl.

At the wrong end of the table Koln were almost doomed from the point that Anthony Modeste opted to try his luck in China after scoring 25 league goals in the 2016/17 campaign.

They were to be joined by SV Hamburg, who suffered relegation for the first time in their history despite putting up a late fight by winning four of their last six matches.

The warning signs had been out for Hamburg for some time, as they needed a play-off win in both 2014 and 2015 to beat the drop and two managerial changes during the season just ended show that all was still not well at the club.

Christian Titz oversaw the improvement in the final few games and he is likely to get the chance to lead the challenge for an immediate return to the German top-flight.

Wolfsburg, Bundesliga champions in 2009 and runners-up as recently as 2015, emulated Hamburg in escaping relegation via the play-offs for a second successive season.

Last year they saw off Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 on aggregate and this term they proved too strong for Holsten Kiel, winning 4-1 on aggregate.

They will expect to do better next term under former Hamburg and Stuttgart head coach Bruno Labbadia, who arrived in February and who was at least able to guide his side to safety.

Mid-table Hertha Berlin are another club with plenty to ponder over the summer, having won only four times in 17 games in the Bundesliga following the winter break.

A possible European challenge evaporated as a result of the almost total loss of form, as Hertha missed out on a repeat of the Europa League spot of sixth they claimed a year earlier.

A major factor in whether Hertha pick up again next term is likely to be the form of experienced Bosnian striker Vedad Ibisevic, who managed just six Bundesliga goals last season, having previously reached double figures six times in the German top-flight.