Bundesliga

Bundesliga 2008-09: Wolfsburg become first-time German champions

 
9:37am on Friday 20th September 2019
By
Martin Macdonald

Felix Magath guided Wolfsburg to their first ever Bundesliga title, but announced his departure from the club before they had been crowned as champions.

With the league title undecided, Magath confirmed he was leaving for Schalke, who ended up finishing eight in the table.

Wolfsburg’s success was dependant on the goalscoring prowess of attackers Grafite and Edin Dzeko, who scored 54 goals between them and ended up first and second in the top goalscorers chart.

The introduction of the 3. Liga meant the promotion-relegation playoff returned, with Energie Cottbus losing 5-0 on aggregate to Nurnberg to go down.

CHANGES

Bayern Munich had two big changes during the summer, with former forward Jurgen Klinsmann taking his first club coaching job following a spell as Germany manager. Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn hung up his gloves, leaving Klinsmann a decision over the club’s new captain. He appointed Marc van Bommel, a popular but often fiery character.

Klinsmann had only a few new players of note to work with in Munich, with Tim Borwoski and Hans-Jorg Butt the only summer signings, on free transfer from Werder Bremen and Benfica respectively. A slow start saw Bayern draw their opening two games, and inconsistent domestic performances as well as a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Barcelona saw the former striker out of a job by the end of April. Jupp Heycnkes was brought back to the club to steady the ship, with Bayern eventually finishing in second.

Borussia Dortmund appointed Jurgen Klopp as the club’s new head coach, despite the Stuttgart native suffering relegation two seasons earlier with Mainz. However, BVB were in disarray, having finished 13th under Thomas Doll, and needed to bring something new to the club. Klopp looked to improve Dortmund’s defence, adding Neven Subotic from his former club for €4.5 million and Brazilian centre-back Felipe Santana for €2.2m.

Magath was given money to spend at Wolfsburg, and also focused on improving his defence. Centre-back pairing Andrea Barzagli (€14m) and Cristian Zaccardo (€7m) were new arrivals from Palermo, with 20-year-old winger Caiuby a €2m import from Brazil.

Hamburg spent over €7m signing Borussia Dortmund attacker Mladen Petric, while Schalke shelled out €10m on Jefferson Farfan from PSV Eindhoven. Claudio Pizarro returned to the Bundesliga after a disappointing season at Chelsea where he scored just two Premier League goals, joining Werder Bremen on an initial loan deal.

Hoffenheim’s main additions arrived from Brazil in the shape of forward Wellington (€4.5m) and defensive midfielder Luis Gustavo, who became an immediate success after his €1m move.

Hamburg lost three of their key players during the transfer window as Manchester City bought both Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany for a combined cost of €26.5m, with Rafael van der Vaart leaving for a €15m move to Real Madrid. Some of this money was spent on Brazilians Thiago Neves and Alex Silva, as well as Bayern Munich full-back Marcell Jansen.

SUMMARY

Few expected Wolfsburg to mount a title challenge, despite their moderate success in 2007-08, where they qualified for the UEFA Cup after finishing fifth. The early part of the season looked to reflect this, as VfL sat in ninth place at the winter break.

However, Magath’s side looked a different team in the Ruckrunde, drawing their opening January match before winning 10 successive games to move above Bayern Munich at the top of the table. Bayern were less than impressive domestically and in Europe, and sacked new coach Klinsmann at the end of April.

Jupp Heynckes returned to Munich, and finished strongly, but three wins in their last three games ensured Wolfsburg won their first ever Bundesliga title by two points. The goals of Edin Dzeko and Grafite proved essential, as well as 20 assists from midfielder Zcjezdan Misimovic, who had joined from Nurnberg in the summer.

Stuttgart also sacked their coach during the season. Armin Veh lasted until November and was replaced by Markus Babbel, who took them from 11th to third in his first ever spell in the dugout.

Bundesliga Player of the Year, Grafite

Lucien Favre’s Hertha Berlin missed out on the Champions League by just one point, thanks to a draw and defeat in their last two games, qualifying for the first ever Europa League.

Klopp helped return Borussia Dortmund to the top half of the table in his first season at his new club, but finished two points behind Hamburg in the final European spot.

Werder Bremen also qualified for the Europa League, having knocked Hamburg out of the DFB-Pokal en route to the final. During a 19 day period, Werder and Hamburg faced off four times thanks to domestic fixtures as well as the UEFA Cup knockout round draw. Bremen were victorious in both cups as well as the league, but ended up five places behind their North German rivals.

Arminia Bielfeld did not move to bottom spot until the very last day of the season, but had spent much of the campaign in the bottom three and were deservedly relegated. They were joined by Karlsruher and Energie Cottbus, as all three newly-promoted teams retained their top-flight status.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

GRAFITE

Brazilian forward Grafite finished the season with more than a goal-per-game as he netted 28 times in 25 games for champions Wolfsburg, finishing with 35 goals in all competitions for the Wolves.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

FELIX MAGATH

The former Bayern Munich coach picked up his third Bundesliga title as a manager (and sixth overall) by masterminding Wolfsburg’s unexpected league triumph.

TOP GOALSCORER

GRAFITE - 28 GOALS

Wolfsburg’s forward duo of Grafite and Edin Dzeko dominated the race for top scorer, with the Brazilian edging out his team-mate with 28 goals to the Bosnian’s 26. Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez was two further behind.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

BENAGLIO; RIETHER, BARZAGLI, SIMUNIC, LAHM; AUGUSTO, MISIMOVIC, OZIL, RIBERY; DZEKO, GRAFITE

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Andrea Barzagli

Palermo to WOLFSBURG

€14m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Bayern Munich did not hold the league lead on any gameweek during the season, but neither had Wolfsburg until they took top spot on Matchday 26 following a 5-1 demolition of Jurgen Klinsmann’s side at the Volkswagen Arena. Grafite and Edin Dzeko both scored twice to put Wolfsburg top and leave Klinsmann’s job in jeopardy.

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