Football Index

Bundesliga Transfer Round-Up

 

Unlike England, deadline day was very busy in Germany where plenty of the Bundesliga’s eager teams decided to make changes to their squads in the hope of improving their fortunes in the second half of the season.

Bayern Munich made the headlines all throughout the transfer window, but ultimately missed out on their main targets as Lucas Hernandez remained at Atletico Madrid while Chelsea refused to sell Callum Hudson-Odoi6.94), despite the player requesting to leave and Bayern meeting their £40 million valuation. They did secure a deal for Benjamin Pavard (£1.89), but not until the summer, with Stuttgart uninterested in receiving extra money to sell him earlier. The transfer of Alphonso Davies (£3.65) was agreed a long time ago, but he has shown glimpses of his talent in a couple of substitute appearances already.

Borussia Dortmund brought in one player during the window, but his arrival should not have a major impact in the short-term as they look to win the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2012. Leonardo Balerdi (£1.54) arrived for £15m from Boca Juniors, but made just four league starts in Argentina, so will take time to adapt despite his enormous potential. BVB have injury problems at the back, but Lucien Favre will probably not use Balerdi much this season, with midfielder Julian Weigl stepping into a centre-back role after Dortmund rejected an offer from PSG.

Eintracht Frankfurt were busy on deadline day, adding three new players in order to challenge for a Champions League spot. They already have one of the best attacks in Europe with Luka Jovic (£6.59), Ante Rebic (£2.00), and Sebastien Haller (£2.68), but now have depth throughout their team, which will help them compete domestically and in Europe. Martin Hinteregger (£0.55) criticised Augsburg head coach Manuel Baum, leaving Augbsurg with no choice other than to sell him. The whole affair turned out well for the Austrian, who was allowed to leave and join Frankfurt, where he will add experience to their defence. The other two deadline day arrivals were Monaco right-back Almamy Toure (£0.68) and Brazilian teenager Tuta (to be IPO’d), who is a long-term prospect. Toure’s arrival on loan allows Adi Hutter more scope in tactical approach as he can better choose four or three at the back depending on the opponent.

The British invasion of Germany continued with Rabbi Matondo (£2.62) moving to Schalke from Manchester City for £13m. The Wales international never played a senior game for the Premier League side, but wasted no time in Germany, making his debut off the bench just days after landing in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke also went out and signed a replacement for Naldo in Jeffrey Bruma, and cut ties with Chelsea’s Abdul Rahman Baba who did not live up to expectations.

RB Leipzig added their own player from the UK, loaning Emile Smith Rowe (£3.40) from Arsenal, but their best signing in January was Tyler Adams (£1.94), who moved from the club’s American affiliate, New York Red Bulls. He has already become a key member of the squad, starting two games so far, where he covered the most distance of any player and helped his new Red Bulls to two wins. Amadou Haidara (£1.76) moved from Red Bull Salzburg and also battle for a starting role in midfield with Leipzig now only focusing their attention on domestic matters following their Europa League exit.

A few teams decided not to make a move in the transfer window, with Borussia Monchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, Mainz, and Wolfsburg all deciding they were happy with their squads or else unable to get their targets.

But perhaps the most interesting transfer of all was Dawid Kownacki’s (£1.19) loan move from Sampdoria to Fortuna Dusseldorf. The Polish striker has found it hard to get gametime this season in Italy, but is highly rated and should bring goals to Dusseldorf after rejecting a similar loan offer from Schalke. If the 20-year-old does impress in the Bundesliga, F95 have the option to buy him at the end of the loan.

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Football Index

Bundesliga Bringing Out The Best In Youth

 

There was plenty of action across all of Europe’s top five leagues and with this, we witnessed lots more movement on Football Index market. Recently, it seems that one of the major trends in the market has seen an upsurge in the value of up and coming hot prospects. Many stars such Mbappe (£16.46), Rashford (£12.06) and Jadon Sancho (£10.75) have all been absolutely flying over the past couple of weeks. But it was one youngster in particular who really caught the eye over the weekend: Kai Havertz (£6.56).

At just 19 years of age, Havertz is already establishing himself for his club and as a genuine contender for Match Day Dividends. The Leverkusen star managed an impressive Match Day Ranking of 215 on Saturday, which was enough for him take the top midfielder spot on a busy Treble Match Day. Considering Havertz’ young age, it’s all the more impressive that he has already established himself as such a crucial member of the Leverkusen first team. Having already amassed 86 appearances and 17 goals in all competitions for his club, Havertz also has the added bonus that he is the team’s preferred spot kick taker; a valuable trademark when it comes to the Football Index. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why Traders were scrambling amongst themselves to get a piece of the Havertz pie on Saturday following his exploits during Leverkusen’s 3-0 win over Wolfsburg. With all the buzz surrounding Havertz, the young German helped himself to a decent little rise of 58p and it won’t be long until he is pushing for the £7.00 mark!

 

Leverkusen’s season had threatened to become another disappointing campaign, but new boss, Peter Bosz, has now got his first victory for his new club. Although Leverkusen currently sit in 9th place, they find themselves only 4 points from 4th place Frankfurt and there is still plenty more football to be played until the end of the season.

The case of Havertz further highlights the influence that is placed on potential world beater and another such prospect is Callum Hudson-Odoi (£7.19). The Chelsea winger’s name has come to light once again, as it seems that Bayern are determined to get their man. The German giants have already had four bids rejected for the youngster, but it looks as though Hudson-Odoi has taken matters into his own hands. The 18 year old has reportedly handed in a transfer request in order to try and push through the deal before the January transfer window closes. As such, this latest development may well be the final catalyst which sees Hudson finally make his way to the Allianz Arena.

With the continued success of Jadon Sancho, Bayern will surely be hoping that Hudson-Odoi can mirror the performances Dortmund have enjoyed from their own English starlet. Sancho was once again on fine form last night as he cropped up with two assists during Dortmund’s 5-1 hammering of Hannover. Sancho has now had a role in scoring or setting up 15 Bundesliga goals this season; a stunning stat considering he’s still 18 years of age!

 

Another hot prospect who impressed for Dortmund over the weekend was Achraf Hakimi (£3.02). Currently on loan from Madrid, the Moroccan looked on course to win the defensive dividend following his early goal. However, he was thwarted by Oscar Wendt (£0.57) after Dortmund conceded. Nonetheless, Hakimi looks a solid hold and he has so far delivered the goods for Dortmund with a very prosperous return of 4 assists and 2 goals in just 14 matches this season. Time will tell if Hakimi can force his way into the star-studded lineup at Madrid, but for the time being at least, the Bundesliga remains the perfect platform for youth to shine.

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Bundesliga Team of the Season So Far

 

Before the start of the 2018-19 season, people were predicting that this year’s Bundesliga would be yet another uncompetitive campaign with Bayern Munich romping home to a sixth successive league title. However, managerial changes for Bayern and Borussia Dortmund have shook things up, meaning this season’s league is the most competitive in years.

As a result, players from all over the league have impressed, meaning that Bayern Munich no longer dominate the table or the Team of the Season so far. Dortmund lead the league at the end of the Hinrunde, taking a six-point lead over Bayern into the winter break.

Here’s the Team of the Season at the half-way point:

Goalkeeper – Yann Sommer (here) – Borussia Monchengladbach – The Swiss goalkeeper had a strong World Cup and kept up his good form for his club side, with 18 goals conceded the second lowest tally of any team in the table (RB Leipzig lead the way with 17). Sommer has kept seven clean sheets so far this season, most notably against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen.

Right-back – Joshua Kimmich (here) – Bayern Munich – The versatile defender has not played at right-back in every game, sometimes lining out as a number six under Niko Kovac, but tends to play his best football down the right flank, where he can deliver impeccable crosses into Bayern’s attackers.

Centre-back – Manuel Akanji (here) – Borussia Dortmund – A new signing for the Bundesliga, Akanji has proven his worth already for Dortmund, showing a maturity well beyond his 23 years. BVB have struggled to field the same back four due to injuries, but whenever Akanji has played, they have looked far more comfortable.

Centre-back – Dayot Upamecano (here) – RB Leipzig – Leipzig are a team in turmoil having already appointed their 2019-20 head coach and having Ralf Rangnick juggle club responsibilities with coaching in order to get them through this transition season. However, it’s not evident on the pitch, where Upamecano has been a commanding presence in a resilient backline.

Left-back – Nico Schulz (here) – Hoffenheim – Playing as part of a five-man defence for Hoffenheim, Schulz has been an excellent force going forward and defending. His confident performances at club level have finally seen him rewarded on an international stage, winning his first cap for Germany in September.

Right midfield – Jadon Sancho (here) – Borussia Dortmund – A lot has been written about the England teenager, who is a surefire bet for next year’s Golden Boy award. Every column inch has been deserved as he has turned from an impact sub into one of Dortmund’s most important players.

Centre midfield – Axel Witsel (here) – Borussia Dortmund – The signing of the season so far in the Bundesliga. Many questioned whether Witsel would be able to compete at this level having not played in a top-five league before, but he has hit the ground running, anchoring the BVB midfield as they march on to the title.

Left midfield – Filip Kostic (here) – Eintracht Frankfurt – Having been relegated with Hamburg, Kostic returned to the Bundesliga to join Frankfurt on a two-year loan. Hamburg’s loss is Frankfurt’s game as the Serbian winger has slotted seamlessly into Adi Hutter’s side, laying on six goals and scoring two more of his own.

Right wing – Thorgan Hazard (here) – Borussia Monchengladbach – The younger Hazard has been performing as well as brother Eden for Chelsea. He’s showing a new-found confidence which allows him to dust himself off after missing a panenka to score his ninth goal of the season (he’s got six assists too!)

Striker – Luka Jovic (here) – Eintracht Frankfurt – Any of Eintracht’s front three could easily make a team of the season so far, but Jovic gets the nod thanks to his 12 goals – the joint-most at this stage of the season. Only Dortmund’s Paco Alcacer has as many, but the majority of those have come late against tired sides as he comes off the bench.

Left wing – Marco Reus (here) – Borussia Dortmund – Just one goal behind Alcacer and Jovic is Dortmund superstar Reus, who also sits at sixth in the assists table with five goals set up for his team-mates. He has been crucial for BVB, captaining them to the top of the table, with his goals well spread throughout the season so far – coming up big where it matters.

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Bundesliga Top Goalscorer Race

 

The Bundesliga heads into the mid-season break with Borussia Dortmund crowned champions of the Hinrunde, as their great start to the 2018-19 campaign sees them establish an early lead over Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich to become winter champion.

The race for the Bundesliga is the most open it has been in years, and the competition to see who will be this season’s top scorer is no different. Robert Lewandowski has lifted the Torjagerkanone trophy in three of the past five seasons and finished with nearly twice the amount of goals as the runner-up last season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s January 2018 move to Arsenal allowed Lewandowski to romp home to the top scorer title last season, with 29 goals to Nils Petersen’s 15, while Niclas Fullkrug, Mark Uth, and Kevin Volland all finished with 14. Aubameyang was just one behind these strikers despite playing just half a season.

(Note: this was written before last night’s match between Dortmund and Borussia M’gladbach).

This year, however, Lewandowski has much greater competition for the trophy and is currently sitting in joint-third himself thanks to an abundance of goals from the league’s leading teams. First place is currently jointly held by Paco Alcacer of Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic. Both players have scored 12 goals so far this season, with 10 of Alcacer’s amazingly coming from the bench as BVB boss Lucien Favre unleashes him on tired defences.

Frankfurt’s Jovic has been a revelation in a deadly attacking trio alongside Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic. Haller leads the league in assists with nine, and has nine goals of his own. Borussia Dortmund’s exciting English teenager Jadon Sancho is level with Haller’s nine assists, helping create goals for Alcacer, Reus and Dortmund’s other attackers.

Reus has scored 10 times so far this season – the same number as Lewandowski and RB Leipzig talisman Timo Werner. There are also two other players on nine goals with Haller, both Borussia Monchengladbach frontmen. Belgium winger Thorgan Hazard scored his ninth of the campaign in midweek despite missing a penalty, while Alassane Plea is often forced out wide for Gladbach, but still has a brilliant return in front of goal.

The players ahead of Lewandowski have all benefitted from scoring hat-tricks this season, but the Poland international has yet to better two goals in any one game. This is not unusual for Lewandowski, who waited until March last season to bag his first treble, and then repeated the feat just a few weeks later to ensure he ran away with the top scorer trophy.

With Bayern now in good form having sorted out their early season problems, Niko Kovac will look to Lewandowski in the second half of the season to secure another Bundesliga title. They will need him at his best to dislodge Dortmund from top spot, but the omens are good, with Lewandowski scoring 30, 30, and 29 goals in the last three seasons in Munich. Aubameyang won the top scorer trophy with 31 goals in 2016-17 and Lewandowski will be eager to better that and show that he is the best Bundesliga striker of the past decade.

However, he has a long way to go to break the single-season record. Back in 1971-72, Gerd Muller scored 40 times for Bayern Munich in the league, picking up the fourth of his seven top scorer titles. That’s if Lewandowski wins at all. The way Jovic and Alcacer are playing, you wouldn’t bet against either of them being crowned top scorer for 2018-19.

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Bundesliga Breakout Stars

After years of Bayern Munich dominance, 2018-19 looks to have finally brought a new lease of life to the Bundesliga. A thrilling 3-2 win for Borussia Dortmund over Bayern on Saturday has put seven points between the two giants, handing Dortmund a solid early lead in the race for the title.

As well as the wide open title race, this year’s Bundesliga season has been an exciting one throughout the table. England’s Jadon Sancho has been a revelation for Dortmund, highlighting how the German top flight gives more chances to young players, but he is not the only exciting talent to break through this year. Here are five breakthrough players worth keeping an eye on this season:

Ondrej Duda – Hertha BSC (Here)

The Bundesliga has long needed a powerful Hertha Berlin, given the dominance of western clubs. This season, Hertha have stepped up a gear under Pal Dardai and are competing for a European spot. Their attack is like a minor version of Dortmund’s, with a “we’ll score more goals than you” approach leading to high-scoring entertaining matches. One of the key beneficiaries from this has been Slovakia midfielder Ondrej Duda, whose previous two campaigns in Berlin were seriously hindered by injury. Having played just 20 Bundesliga games over the course of those two seasons, Duda has already lined out 11 times in 2018-19, where the regular run in the first XI has seen him find his form in front of goal, with six league goals already.

Reiss Nelson – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Here)

Having decided to leave England on loan to prove his worth to parent club Arsenal, England Under-21 international Reiss Nelson has been well rewarded for his strong start at Hoffenheim. Despite six goals in his first seven Bundesliga games, the 18-year-old still isn’t a guaranteed starter for TSG. Fan pressure is increasing on head coach Julian Nagelsmann to start him every game, with the fact that he won Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for October only re-inforcing this opinion from Hoffenheim fans that he should play every single minute.

Florian Neuhaus – Borussia Monchengladbach (Here)

There is a case to be made that Hazard has been the best player in the Premier League and the best player in the Bundesliga this season as brothers Eden and Thorgan have been shining for their respective clubs. Gladbach have finally started living up to their potential thanks to Hazard and new signing Alassane Plea, allowing some other players to gain confidence and freedom that comes from playing alongside more talented players. Florian Neuhaus spent last season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he helped them to promotion, but is flourishing at a bigger challenge this year: trying to get Gladbach into the top six.

Maximilian Eggestein – Werder Bremen (Here)

The older of two Eggestein brothers at Werder (though not by much), Maxi Eggestein missed just one Bundesliga game last season, scoring twice. This campaign, he already has bettered that goal tally and added another in the first round of the cup. He’s been compared to Toni Kroos thanks to his excellent passing ability and vision which allows him to create chances as well as score them.

Nordi Mukiele – RB Leipzig (Here)

France Under-21 defender Nordi Mukiele is a new arrival at Leipzig, having joined from Ligue 1 side Montpellier in the summer. He was courted by Manchester City before moving to the Red Bull Arena, and looks to have made the right decision as he’s played a key part in their Bundesliga and Europa League campaigns so far. He’s played 16 games in all competitions as head coach Ralf Rangnick rotates his squad, but has more than proved his ability to be a regular starter for the rest of the season.

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Der Klassiker

Der Klassiker has been billed as Germany’s answer to El Clasico in Spain, but is only a relatively recent phenomenon in league rivalries compared to some of the other derbies taking place this weekend.

The Manchester derby on Sunday will be watched by a global audience, with AC Milan hosting Juventus later that day in another Italian classic.

Despite lacking the historical background of these games, in recent years, it has been one of the biggest and most important games in German football, peaking in 2013 when Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final.

Having lost the last five Klassikers, Dortmund will be looking for revenge over their recent rivals, and look primed to do so, having had a brilliant start to life under new head coach Lucien Favre.

Thanks to their incredible record of just one defeat in their opening 15 games of the season and Bayern’s stuttering start to the Niko Kovac era, Dortmund go into the game as favourites, holding a four point lead in the league table.

Bayern chief Uli Hoeness admitted as much earlier this week, but his ‘favourites’ tag did not go over well with his opposite number Michael Zorc, who responded: “It’s totally irrelevant. It is all be decided on the pitch. And it’s not important who is favourite. You don’t get an extra goal for that.”

Goals will surely be the order of the day as Favre’s aim is to outscore opponents, while Bayern’s backline has looked shaky all season and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is suffering a major dip in form, having kept just two Bundesliga clean sheets so far and none in his last six league games.

Favre’s big question is whether to play Jadon Sancho from the start. The young English winger has been in excellent form, earning a nomination for Bundesliga Player of the Month for October, along with BVB team-mate Achraf Hakimi.

Sancho has been mostly used from the bench and could be utilised to similar effect agaunst Bayern, coming on around the hour mark to exploit their tired defence. If deployed on the left, he could come up against Joshua Kimmich, one of Bayern’s rare consistent players this season, but also their greatest threat to create chances thanks to his excellent crossing ability.

That’s if Kimmich is restored to right-back, of course. Kovac tested out the versatile German as a defensive midfielder last time out, but the idea backfired against Freiburg, who scored late to snatch a 1-1 draw.

Injury to Thiago could pave the way for either Leon Goretzka or Renato Sanches to start in midfield, while Serge Gnabry has shown promise and could be chosen ahead of Franck Ribery, who returned to start in the 2-0 Champions League win over AEK Athens.

Robert Lewandowski has returned to form at the right time, hitting two goals in midweek before he faces his former club. Mats Hummels also will start against his former employers, while Mario Gotze is pushing for a start for Dortmund having had a terrible time during his stay in Munich.

However, Gotze has fallen down the pecking order under Favre, with Sancho, Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Christian Pulisic all competing for places in the attack, where Marco Reus has discovered his best form.

With Dortmund so impressive in front of goal and Bayern finding their finishing touch, Saturday’s Klassiker promises to be the most competitive – and most entertaining – in years!

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DFB-Pokal Cup

Unlike the FA Cup, the DFB-Pokal in Germany sees the country’s biggest teams enter the tournament at the first round. As a result, lower league sides can welcome Champions League contenders to grounds capable of holding 100s of supporters rather than tens of thousands.

Regionalliga West side SVRödinghausen’s reward for defeating Dynamo Dresden in the first round is a game with Bayern Munich, a huge draw for a side that was playing in the ninth tier less than a decade ago. The DFB-Pokal always sees the lower ranked team host the game, so Bayern’s bus will be travelling to the 2,489 capacity Hacker-Wiehenstadion on Tuesday night.

Bayern head coach Niko Kovac has decided to use the game to have a closer look at four youth players, with Meritan Shabani, Paul Will and Wooyeong Jeong joining the senior panel, while goalkeeper Christian Fruchtl could be in line to start due to Sven Ulreich’s absence. Manuel Neuer’s deputy will play no part as his wife is due to give birth.

Of these players, Fruchtl is available on Football Index at a price of £0.56 (here) and could be worth looking at if Kovac decides to go with youth rather than experience in goal.

However, despite the young players joining up with the senior squad, Kovac will probably field a starting XI of familiar names, especially after Bayern Munich had to battle to beat fourth-tier side SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round.

The same is true of many teams, who will continue to play their strongest sides or have limited rotation. The DFB-Pokal is a great way to qualify for Europe, as shown by Eintracht Frankfurt’s run to the trophy last season.

Wolfsburg could see Congolese defender Marcel Tisserand get a rare start this season, but coach Bruno Labbadia is likely to keep faith with Wout Weghorst in attack as they look to overcome Hannover. Hertha Berlin travel to Darmstadt, having been given a tricky draw in the second round. They will have some rotation as they look to compete for a European spot via the Bundesliga and are likely to see former Manchester City youth Javairo Dilrosun back in the first team.

Borussia Dortmund face Union Berlin on Wednesday, with defender Lukasz Piszczek ruled out. That could see a shift in the back four, with the possibility of Raphael Guerreiro starting at left-back or else Omer Toprak be given a rare start. Marius Wolf is also in contention to start in midfield, while Mario Gotze could be retained after finally breaking into Lucien Favre’s lineup.

Favre was reluctant to give much away in his pre-match press conference, hinting at the possibility of rotation but making no firm commitments: “There will probably be a few changes, but that’s not certain yet.”

He did confirm that star striker Paco Alcacer was back in training, but is unlikely to risk him in the cup with Borussia Dortmund challenging for the Bundesliga title thanks to Bayern Munich’s inconsistent form.

The big news emerging from the Werder Bremen camp ahead of their tie with SC Weiche-08 is the imminent debut of American teenager Josh Sargent. The forward was not eligible to play last season as he was under 18, but is finally on the verge of breaking into the Werder squad after impressing with their under-23 panel. He is currently trading at £1.39 here.

“Josh has been playing regularly for the Under-23s and now he’s fighting for a place in the first-team squad,” coach Florian Kohfeldt told reporters at the pre-game press conference. “We’ll see when he can achieve that.”

Wednesday also sees the two biggest games of the round take place as RB Leipzig host Hoffenheim and Borussia Monchengladbach take on Bayer Leverkusen. With places in the last 16 on the line, expect all four teams to stick with their big names to try to advance

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