Bayern Munich has been reeled in by Borussia Dortmund and Union Berlin at the Bundesliga summit, while Freiburg, RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt aren’t far behind. bundesliga.com has the latest on the most fiercely contested title race in Bundesliga history…
Indeed, the last time three teams were tied at the top in the second half of a Bundesliga season was back in 2011/12, when Bayern Dortmund and Schalke all had 40 points after Matchday 19.
You have to go a lot further back – 53 years to be precise – for the same situation after 21 rounds of fixtures: in 1969/70 Cologne, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hertha Berlin were all tied at the top at the same stage. Here’s the lie of the land in 2022/23…
Goals: 61-21 (+40)
Next fixture: Union (h)
Bayern trailed Union by five points after a shock 1-0 defeat to Augsburg on Matchday 7 but recovered ground to top the pile at Christmas and take the nominal autumn championship as leaders at halfway. However, three straight 1-1 draws against Leipzig, Cologne and Frankfurt to start 2023 allowed the chasing pack to close back in – and a win for Union on the Saturday of Matchday 19 toppled Bayern at the top for a night. The record champions responded with wins over Wolfsburg and Bochum, but a 3-2 loss in Mönchengladbach meant Union moved level at the top following their draw with Schalke ahead of two’s Matchday 22 clash at the Allianz Arena.
Goals: 44-27 (+17)
Next fixture: Hoffenheim (a)
Like Leipzig, Union and Frankfurt, Dortmund have already drawn with Bayern this season – in a 2-2 thriller in October. BVB lost three of their next six, but have re-emerged as serious title contenders after making a perfect start to 2023 (with wins over Augsburg, Mainz, Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg, Werder Bremen and Hertha). Jude Bellingham’s in the form of his life, while summer signing Sebastien Haller has returned to first-team action after overcoming testicular cancer and scored his first goal for the club in a thumping 5-1 win over Freiburg. Head coach Edin Terzic can also count on captain Marco Reus and American talent Gio Reyna again, with Dortmund up to second and poised to sustain a title charge.
Goals: 35-24 (+11)
Next fixture: Bayern (a)
Competing in only their fourth season of Bundesliga football, Union continues to exceed expectations. The Berlin club are showing last term’s fifth-placed finish was no fluke in what has been a club-record campaign so far. After ending 2022 on a three-match winless streak, Die Eisernen kicked off the new year with five successive wins – sensationally sending them top of the table again (albeit only overnight) after beating Mainz 2-1, and they showed their mettle by coming from behind to beat fellow title contenders Leipzig on Matchday 20. Urs Fischer’s side was held at home to Schalke on Matchday 21, but travel to Munich on Matchday 22 level on points with the league leaders.
Goals: 34-31 (+3)
Next fixture: Bayer Leverkusen (h)
Freiburg finished sixth last season and is upsetting the apple cart again in 2022/23, even topping the table at one stage. They have only lost five times – against Bayern (5-0), Dortmund (3-1 and 5-1), Hoffenheim (2-1) and Wolfsburg (6-0) – and are one of the toughest nuts to crack on their patch (23 points is a league-high return in home matches, shared with Union and Leipzig). Steered by one of the brightest minds in the business, Christian Streich, expect them to maintain their charge right until the last.
Goals: 43-26 (+17)
Next fixture: Frankfurt (h)
Leipzig has their mojo back under Marco Rose, who oversaw a 12-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga (17 in all competitions) until Matchday 20’s stumble at home to Union. No team picked up more points between Rose taking over from Domenico Tedesco on 8 September 2022 and the end of January, and they showed the stuff of champions by bouncing back to beat Wolfsburg 3-0 on Matchday 21. Better yet, talisman Christopher Nkunku marked his comeback after three months out with an assist from the bench.
Goals: 42-29 (+13)
Next fixture: RB Leipzig (a)
A Frankfurt spearheaded by Randal Kolo Muani has rattled off 42 goals across the first 21 matchdays, with the young Frenchman accounting for almost half of them with his 10 goals and 10 assists. He followed up a goal in Munich on Matchday 18 with a brace against Hertha Berlin and is the leading scorer in 2023 following his fifth of the new year in a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen. Oliver Glasner’s charges are battle-hardened following last season’s UEFA Europa League triumph and have the added experience of Mario Götze to call on. They bounced back from an interruption of a seven-match unbeaten run in Cologne on Matchday 20, flexing their muscles before – like Bayern, Dortmund, Leipzig, Union and Freiburg – returning to the juggling act of domestic and European football.