Jupp Heynckes returned to Bayern Munich for his third spell in charge, but could only finish in second, eight points behind Dortmund. Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick stepped down early in the season citing exhaustion, and was replaced by Rodolfo Cardoso who guided them to third.
An improvement in Germany’s European coefficient saw an extra team qualify for the Champions League, meaning fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach qualified into the play-off round, with Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart, and Hannover all progressing to the Europa League.
Cologne and Kaiserslautern were both relegated, while Hertha Berlin went back down via the playoffs just one season after coming up.
Heynckes was appointed Bayern Munich head coach, and was forced to publicly back new signing Manuel Neuer after the fans protested the club’s €22 million purchase of the goalkeeper from rivals Schalke.
Defenders Rafinha and Jerome Boateng were signed from Genoa and Manchester City respectively, while Nils Petersen scored a hat-trick on his friendly debut but was less impressive in the Bundesliga, registering just two goals in nine games during the season.
Miroslav Klose moved to Lazio on a free transfer, leaving Mario Gomez as Bayern’s clear first-choice striker. Hamit Altintop joined Real Madrid at the end of his contract, while Thomas Kraft and Andreas Ottl both moved to recently-promoted Hertha Berlin.
Klopp added extra strength in midfield at Borussia Dortmund, spending €5.5m on each of Ilkay Gundogan and Ivan Perisic, with the former replacing Real Madrid-bound Nuri Sahin in the centre of the pitch.
Having retired from playing, Sami Hyypia became an assistant manager with the Finland national setup, but was back in the Leverkusen dugout by April as the board lost faith in Heynckes’ replacement Robin Dutt.
Per Mertesacker’s move to Arsenal saw Clemens Fritz appointed as new Werder Bremen captain. Defender Sokratis joined on loan, with Zlatko Junuzovic moving from Austria Vienna for €800k.
Leverkusen signed two of the most promising young players in the league, but had to pay over €15m in total to add Andre Schurrle and Bernd Leno. Defender Omer Toprak was also a €3m signing from Freiburg. However, they lost midfielder Arturo Vidal to Serie A, as Juventus signed the Chilean for €12.5m.
Freiburg sold their top scorer Papiss Cisse to Newcastle for €12m, while Hamburg decided to cash in on the frustrating Eljero Elia (€9m to Juventus). Wolfsburg were among the big spenders, adding Christian Trasch (€9m), Ricardo Rodriguez (€8.5m), and Giovanni Sio (€5.8m).
Champions Borussia Dortmund picked up where they left off, beating Hamburg 3-1 on the opening day of the season to set their path to a second successive Bundesliga title. However, after six games, it looked as if Klopp’s side might not challenge at the top, sitting in 11th thanks to three defeats in their opening fixtures.
The 2-1 loss to Hannover on Matchday six was the last time Dortmund lost a league game all season, and they led the league after 20 games until the end of the campaign, picking up 81 points to set a new Bundesliga record.
After a slow start in his previous season, forward Robert Lewandowski became Dortmund’s star player, finishing with 22 Bundesliga goals, and 30 in all competitions. He was supported by Shinji Kagawa, who scored 12 league goals from attacking midfield, while Croatian midfielder Perisic settled well at his new club.
Heynckes’ return to Bayern Munich was not as successful as hoped, but he did guide them to a second-placed finish and the Champions League final, with striker Mario Gomez finishing second to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the race for the Torjagerkanone.
Huntelaar’s 29 goals propelled Schalke to third in the table, while Borussia Monchengladbach secured Germany’s additional Champions League spot for 2011-12 by coming fourth. Gladbach had avoided relegation via the play-off the previous season, but coach Lucien Favre’s slick counter-attacking side performed excellently to get into Europe.
Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart, and Hannover never really challenged the league leaders, but all finished in the top seven to qualify for the Europa League. Leverkusen had hoped to return to the Champions League, and as a result sacked manager Dutt and replaced him with former defender Sami Hyypia before the end of the campaign.
Cologne and Kaiserslautern both changed their managers in the latter-half of the season, but the appointments of Frank Schaefer and Krasimir Balakov respectively could not save them from relegation.
Fan trouble marred the relegation play-off, which saw Hertha Berlin relegated thanks to a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Fortuna Dusseldorf. The second leg was delayed after fireworks where thrown onto the pitch, while referee Wolfgang Stark filed a criminal complaint against Hertha midfielder Lewan Kobiascwili for assaulting him after the game.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
Borussia Dortmund set the league record for the most points in a season (81) with Klopp’s side dominant at both ends of the pitch, scoring 80 goals and conceding just 25.
KLAAS-JAN HUNTELAAR - 29 GOALS
Schalke’s top scorer became the first Dutch player to lift the Torjagerkanone thanks to 29 goals in 32 appearances - three more than Bayern’s Mario Gomez.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
NEUER; DANTE, HUMMELS, BADSTUBER; REUS, GUNDOGAN, KAGAWA, KROOS, RIBERY; GOMEZ, HUNTELAAR
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Schalke to Bayern
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Borussia Dortmund expected to find it difficult to defend their title, and after a slow start, needed to prove themselves worthy again. A trip to the Allianz Arena on Matchday 11 saw BVB come away with three points thanks to an instinctive finish from 19-year-old Mario Gotze. This ended Bayern’s winning run, and put Dortmund within two points of their championship rivals.