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The Return of the Bundesliga: A Reminder of the Current State of Play

 

The German football league has announced the Bundesliga season will restart on May 16th, after the government gave the green light on a return to action. It’s been almost two months since a ball was last kicked, but Stats Perform has all the data you need for a quick refresher.

By: Oliver Hopkins

Football is coming back. A matter of hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the green light for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 to restart in mid-May, The DFL, which operates the leagues, confirmed play would resume on May 16.

It has been just shy of two months since Borussia Mönchengladbach beat Cologne 2-1 in what would become the last match to be played before this unexpected hiatus. A lot has happened since then. But with the imminent restart of German football, Stats Perform is on hand to provide a data-driven reminder of the key narratives from the Bundesliga.

Bayern On Top:

After 25 matches, it is, rather predictably, Bayern Munich who sit in top spot. After a turbulent first half of the 2019/20 season under Niko Kovac, who was sacked off the back of a humbling 5-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt in November, Bayern have been utterly ruthless. The Bavarians have won 10 of their last 11 Bundesliga games, drawing once, and have won 14 of their last 15 games in all competitions. In fact, only two teams in Bundesliga history have earned more points from the first eight games of the second half of the season than Hans-Dieter Flick’s team: Bayern themselves in 2012-13 under Jupp Heynckes and in 2013-14 under Pep Guardiola (24 each).

The champions are scoring for fun. So far, they have scored 73 goals after 25 games. Only Bayern themselves had scored more by this stage in Bundesliga history (in 1973/74 and 2013/14, with 74 goals apiece). In 1971/72, when Bayern became the only Bundesliga team in history to reach a century of goals in a single season (101), they had ‘only’ scored 68 goals at this stage.

The chasing pack is made up of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.

After running Bayern close last year, Dortmund will be eyeing up their home clash in Der Klassiker on matchday 28 as a huge opportunity to close the gap on the Bavarians. Signal Iduna Park has been a fortress for Dortmund this season: Lucien Favre’s side are the only team in the three German professional leagues without a home defeat in 2019/20 (W9 D3) and BVB have scored in each of their last 37 Bundesliga home games in a row, which is a club record. England youngster, Jadon Sancho, has scored in each of the last 7 home matches, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (11, in 2015 and 2016) has gone on a longer home scoring run in Dortmund’s Bundesliga history.

Bayer Leverkusen will have a large part to play in deciding the title. Leverkusen are still to visit Mönchengladbach and then host Bayern. Bayer have taken 19 points from eight games in the second half of the season, tying a club record from 1999/00.

Elsewhere, it was all looking so good for FC Schalke. A 2-0 victory over Mönchengladbach on matchday 18 propelled them to just three points behind leaders Bayern. That victory was their last win to date, and since then they’ve embarked on a winless seven match streak (D4 L3) – the longest winless run in the Bundesliga this season. Schalke are now languishing in sixth place and are a massive 18 points off the top.

Battle At The Bottom:

At the wrong end of the table, the writing’s on the wall for bottom-placed SC Paderborn. They have picked up a joint league-low one point from their last six Bundesliga games (W0 D1 L5) and have just 16 points on the board after 25 matches. No Bundesliga team has survived with a points tally of 16 or lower at this stage.

Two points ahead of them, Werder Bremen are in real danger of being relegated into Bundesliga 2 for the first time since 1980/81. They have also picked up just one point from their last six league matches and have only won once in their last 11.

Predicted Finish:

The Stats Perform AI team has provided a simulation to generate a predicted Bundesliga table. The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team’s attacking and defensive quality. Those ratings are allocated based on four years’ worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for changes in form and personnel over time.

Based on this data, here are the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table:

The outcome of the season is simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Bayern led by four points at the top when the season was brought to a halt, and our model has them finishing seven clear to clinch an eighth successive title, with the model giving them an 87.8% chance of claiming first place.

In the chasing pack, the model has RB Leipzig edging Dortmund for second, with each finishing on 68 points. Leipzig have a full percentage point better chance of finishing second than Dortmund (42.6% to 41.6%), due to their superior goal difference.

The race for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification berth is a two-horse one between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. Gladbach had a two-point advantage over Leverkusen before the campaign was put on hiatus. The simulation has Leverkusen halving the deficit, but Gladbach ultimately holding on to seal a return to Europe’s elite club competition.

Unsurprisingly, given their tally of 16 points from 25 games, the simulation has Paderborn finishing at the foot of the table. They have just a 6.3 per cent chance of avoiding automatic relegation. Of more significance to the landscape of German football would be Werder Bremen joining them in the Bundesliga 2. The four-time Bundesliga champions have been relegated just once in their history, but the simulation has them suffering an agonising drop into the second tier.

The video below explains the simulation in more detail:

The Scoring Charts:

Despite missing the last two match days through injury, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski has scored 25 goals after 25 games. Only Gerd Müller had more at this stage: 29 goals in 1971/72 and 26 in 1969/70. The Pole is in prime position to secure his fifth Bundesliga top scorer award, and if he were to win it in 2019/20 it would be his third in succession. As mentioned in our round-up of Europe’s top goal scorers, Lewandowski’s underlying numbers are excellent. His 23.7 expected goals output this season is the highest across Europe. A healthy combination of high shot volumes (108 in total, second behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s 130) and good chance quality (0.2 xG per shot) means he is on course to be not just Germany’s best finisher, but Europe’s too.

Hunting down Lewandowski is RB Leipzig’s all-time leading Bundesliga goal scorer, Timo Werner. The talismanic striker has been central to Leipzig’s title charge this season and his goals have earned his side 15 points, more than any other Bundesliga player (Lewandowski’s have earned Bayern 12).

Top Scorers - Bundesliga 2019/20

RankPlayerGoals
1Robert Lewandowski25
2Timo Werner21
3Jadon Sancho14
4Robin Quaison12
5 =Serge Gnabry11
5 =Florian Niederlechner11
5 =Marco Reus11
5 =Wout Weghorst11
5 =Sebastian Andersson11
5 =Rouwen Hennings11
The Creators:

Bayern‘s Thomas Müller has assisted 16 goals after 25 matchdays. The only other player to have that many at this stage in the season, since Opta started collecting assist data, was Kevin De Bruyne (16 for Wolfsburg in 2014/15). That was the same season in which De Bruyne set the Bundesliga assist record (20). Using expected assists, we analysed that Müller’s form as a creative force this season has him on track to eclipse De Bruyne’s record. Jadon Sancho (currently on 15 assists) could break that record, too.

Müller has created 60 chances in 25 Bundesliga matches, with an average expected assist value of 0.17 per chance.

Most Assists - Bundesliga 2019/20

RankPlayerAssists
1Thomas Müller16
2Jadon Sancho15
3Christopher Nkunku12
4 =Achraf Hakimi10
4 =Thorgan Hazard10

With Italy, Spain and England hoping for a possible June return for their domestic leagues, the return of the Bundesliga is a welcome sight for all.


Stats Perform provide pre- and post-match Opta facts for every Bundesliga game, as well as data-filled match day packs for the biggest fixtures. For more information on these products, or to find out more about Stats Perform’s AI simulation model, get in touch.