Bundesliga 2016/17: Five talking points

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RB LEIPZIG’S SHAKE-UP

Newly-promoted RB Leipzig, backed by energy drink giants Red Bull, shook up the status quo to finish second and earn a Champions League place next season.

Leipzig, founded in 2009, started with a bang, pulling off shock wins over established clubs Borussia Dortmund, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen.

They were unbeaten in their first 13 matches – a record for a new team in Germany’s top flight – and kept Bayern off the top for three weeks.

Despite initially being unpopular with their rivals – Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke called them “performing to sell cans of drink” – their high-tempo, eye-catching football won over neutral fans.

With 21 league goals, Timo Werner is the Bundedsliga’s top-scoring German striker and, like midfielder Diego Demme, 25, has forced his way into the Germany squad.

Playmakers Naby Keita and Emil Forsberg, who set a record 22 assists in a Bundesliga season, have attracted the interest of Premier League clubs.

THE TALENTED NAGELSMANN

Julian Nagelsmann, who aged just 29 is the youngest coach in Bundesliga history, took Hoffenheim from relegation candidates last season to fourth and a Champions League play-off place.

Hoffenheim were the last team in Europe’s top five leagues to lose this season when their 17-match unbeaten run was ended in January.

Having drawn 1-1 in Munich last November, Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim sealed the club’s first win over Bayern in March.

Under his tutelage, midfielders Kerem Demirbay, Sebastian Rudy, defender Niklas Sule and striker Sandro Wagner have all earned Germany call-ups.

The challenge facing Nagelsmann, Germany’s coach of the year in 2016, is to maintain his team’s impressive results with Rudy and Sule to join Bayern next season.

BOMB ATTACK AT RESTLESS DORTMUND

Borussia Dortmund have finished third, qualifying directly for the Champions League next season, despite huge setbacks on and off the field.

April’s bomb attack on the team bus, speculation about top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future plans and a row between CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and head coach Thomas Tuchel took their toll.

New signing Ousmane Dembele, 20, has been a success, making his France debut with some stunning displays, but has lacked discipline on occasion.

However, Germany pair Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze, back after three unhappy years with Bayern, have flopped.

Schuerrle showed only glimpses of his talent in an injury-ravaged season, and Goetze, Germany’s World Cup winner, has been out since February with a metabolism disorder.

Aubameyang, the league’s top-scorer with 31 goals, has been linked to big-money moves to China and Paris St-Germain and has he may leave at the end of the season.

The club say they want to know the Gabon hot-shot’s future plans and there will also be clear-the-air talks between Watzke and Tuchel at the end of the season.

The pair had a public falling out over the decision to play their Champions League quarter-final less than 24 hours after bombs blasted the team bus last month.

BAYERN’S BENCHWARMERS

Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich started the season as Germany’s first-choice right-back while midfielder Renato Sanches arrived as a Euro 2016 winner with Portugal.

The 19-year-old Sanches cost Bayern 35 million euros ($39.2m) from Benfica, but like Kimmich spent most of the season on Bayern’s bench.

Sanches started just six league games, while Kimmich began 14, which has led to them being linked to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.

The double retirements of right-back Philipp Lahm and defensive midfelder Xabi Alonso means Kimmich and Sanches need to take their chances next term.

BIG NAMES CRASH

Wolfsburg, the 2009 German champions and 2015 German Cup winners, beat Real Madrid at home in the Champions League last season, yet now need to win a two-legged play-off to stay up.

Hamburg’s dramatic 2-1 win on Saturday saw Wolfsburg replace them in 16th.

They now face play-offs on May 25 and 29 against the second-division’s third best team, which will be decided on Sunday, to stay up.

Likewise Bayer Leverkusen flirted with relegation despite reaching the last 16 of the Champions league and fired their head coach Roger Schmidt in March.

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Bayern Munich celebrate fifth straight Bundesliga title

Sport360 staff 21/05/2017
Another year, another Bundesliga for Bayern.

Bayern Munich ended their season with a triumphant 4-1 win over Freiburg, capping off a fifth straight Bundesliga title.

The run extends Munich’s own record, with their five-year dominance unparalleled in Bundesliga history, and this time around they finished 15 points ahead of their closest rivals, RB Leipzig.

For manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was in his debut season with the club, it is a first league title since the 2012-13 season, when he lifted the Ligue 1 trophy with Paris Saint-Germain.

This particular success was slightly bittersweet for Bayern, as they were bidding farewell to club legends Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso, both of whom are retiring.

But nothing could dampen their spirits on Saturday, with club captain Lahm leading the celebrations on the pitch and, later, at Munich’s town hall.

Check out the best of the celebrations in the gallery above.

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Aubameyang's last-gasp goal clinches Golden Boot

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Robert Lewandowski went into the final day of the Bundesliga season in pole position to wrap up this season’s Top Scorer award, only to be pipped to it by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aubameyang scored twice in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-3 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday to finish as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer and seal his side’s direct Champions League place on a dramatic final day of the season.

His second goal, the one that put him ahead, came in the 89th minute of the game, from the penalty spot.

The Gabon international finished with 31 goals, one more than Bayern’s hitman, who failed to score in the champions’ 4-1 home win over Freiburg.

FC Koln striker Anthony Modeste had made a late push to briefly join the race until Aubameyang and Lewandowski pulled away in recent weeks.

Modeste finished with 25 goals after failing to add to his tally on the final day, although Koln got a 2-0 win over Mainz that saw them secure a Europa League place.

*From AFP

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