Bundesliga

Bundesliga 2015-16: Borussia Dortmund challenge not enough to unseat Bayern Munich

 
2:14pm on Thursday 19th September 2019
By
Martin Macdonald

Bayern Munich picked up a fourth Bundesliga title in a row despite pressure throughout the season from Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund. BVB finished the campaign with 78 points - three points more than the previous time Dortmund actually won the league.

While the battle for top spot went until the second last day of the season, third placed Bayer Leverkusen were never in the running to challenge Bayern. They finished 28 points shy of top spot, with Borussia Monchengladbach another five points further back.

Less than 10 years after winning the German title, Stuttgart suffered the ignominy of relegation to the 2 Bundesliga, winning just nine games all season. Hannover 96 also fell out of the top flight, with Eintracht Frankfurt only staying up thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win over Nurnberg in the playoff.

CHANGES

Dortmund began life after Jurgen Klopp by appointing former Mainz head coach Thomas Tuchel, who had been out of contract since the previous May. The new boss began life at Westfalenstadion by reshaping the midfield, bringing in Gonzalo Castro and Julian Weigl from Bayer Leverkusen and 1860 Munich respectively. Roman Burki was signed for €3.5 million and took over the majority of goalkeeping duties from Roman Weidenfeller.

Pep Guardiola strengthened his Bundesliga holders by spending €37m on Arturo Vidal from Juventus and €30m on Shakhtar Donetsk’s Douglas Costa, with speedy French winger Kingsley Coman joining on a loan-to-buy deal from Juve as well. Guardiola also raided Stuttgart for two of their key players, adding Sven Ulreich as a backup for Manuel Neuer and signing Joshua Kimmich as a versatile squad option.

Some of Bayern’s older players left the club in a largescale clearout, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Pepe Reina, and Claudio Pizarro among the exodus. Thomas Muller, Thiago, and Manuel Neuer received new contracts, while David Alaba and Jerome Boateng were also given extensions.

Wolfsburg lost Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City for €75m, making him the Bundesliga’s most expensive export ever. Julian Draxler was brought in from Schalke to replace him, but failed to live up to his predecessor as VfB slipped out of the European places.

Borussia Monchengladbach looked to Chelsea to improve their team, loaning Danish defender Andreas Christensen and making the deal for Thorgan Hazard permanent. Amin Younes returned to the club from his temporary spell at Kaiserslautern, but was soon shipped off to Ajax.

Mexican football fans began to take a greater interest in the Bundesliga thanks to Bayer Leverkusen’s addition of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who rewarded his new club with 17 league goals.

SUMMARY

Dortmund began life under Tuchel impressively and led the league for four of the first five weeks before Bayern Munich took over at the top. Tuchel brought new energy to the club after their disappointing seventh-placed finish the previous season, nurturing the relationship between Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who netted 54 goals between them in all competitions.

At the end of the season, Dortmund had scored more goals than Bayern, but were eventually undone by their poor run of games in late September and early August where they drew with Hoffenheim and Darmstadt before being beaten 5-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Dortmund only lost once after the winter break, but Bayern were relentless under Guardiola, who themselves won 13 of their 17 Ruckrunde matches. They secured a league and cup double, beating Dormund on penalties in the DFB-Pokal final, but saw their Champions League hopes dashed by an away goals rule loss to Atletico Madrid in the semi-final.

Bundesliga Player of the Year, Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Stuttgart’s 39-year stay in the German top flight came to an end on the last day of the season when a 3-1 defeat to Wolfsburg saw them join Hannover 96 in the relegation zone. Borussia Monchengladbach began their season stuck at the wrong end of the table, losing all of their opening five games, leading to the exit of head coach Lucien Favre. Under Andre Schubert, they had a remarkable turnaround, winning the next six games and eventually finished in a Champions League position.

Hoffenheim also began their season without a win in their first five games - the first season ever where two teams had such bad starts - but did not fare as well as Gladbach, and ended up just one point above Eintracht Frankfurt, who were saved via the promotion-relegation playoff.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

HENRIKH MKHITARYAN

Armenia international Mkhitaryan was involved in 30 of Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga goals, getting his name on the scoresheet 10 times and setting up 20 more - just one shy of the Bundesliga assists record.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

ANDRE SCHUBERT

Borussia Monchengladbach had not won any of their five games when Schubert replaced Lucien Favre in late September, but immediately turned things around and somehow guided the team to a top four finish.

TOP GOALSCORER

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI - 30 GOALS

The Poland international finished five goals ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and 10 ahead of Bayern Munich team-mate Thomas Muller to comfortably secure his second top scorer award in three years.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

NEUER; LAHM, MATIP, HUMMELS, RODRIGUEZ; MKHITARYAN, VIDAL, WEIGL, MULLER; HERNANDEZ, LEWANDOWSKI

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Arturo Vidal

Juventus to BAYERN

€37m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Borussia Dortmund pushed Bayern Munich close for much of the season, but accrued two more losses than their title rivals over the course of the campaign. They never were able to catch up following their 5-1 thumping in Munich, where ex-BVB stars Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze were among the goals.

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