Bundesliga 2012-13 season review

Posted by Stephen Uersfeld

Team of the year: Bayern Munich

Ninety-one points, 98 goals, 29 wins, only one defeat, a goal difference of plus-80 and just two games away from becoming the first German club to win the famous treble. This Bayern Munich season will go down in the Bundesliga history book and will stay there for a long time. A Thomas Muller goal in the 43rd minute of Bayern's first league game at Greuther Furth lifted their campaign off the ground. They were unstoppable ever since. It would take several pages just to name all the Bundesliga records Bayern Munich broke this season.

An impressive first half of the season was followed by the best second half ever to be played in Bundesliga. Sixteen wins and one draw. Fifty-four goals. And all this without the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Mandzukic, Muller, Philipp Lahm and many more key players, who were all rested during the peak period in Champions League. Never before has a team dominated the Bundesliga like this and it is doubtful that any future team will win the Bundesliga by a 25-point gap. Hats off to Bayern Munich and to Jupp Heynckes, a true Bundesliga legend. He will be greatly missed on the sidelines.

Player of the year: Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich

The Frenchman ended the season in great fashion, scoring twice and setting up a further two in just another Man Of The Match performance in Bayern's 4-3 win at Moenchengladbach. He handed his boss Jupp Heynckes the Bundesliga farewell he deserved.

Ribery scored 10 goals, set up a further 15 and in 156 Bundesliga games for Bayern has now netted 53 goals. Bayern have never lost a game in which he scored, winning 44 and drawing only twice. Injuries and bad-tempered fouls had stopped Ribery from being more than a promise, but this season has finally turned the France international into one of the true greats of the game, and moreover, into a serious contender for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, with his teammate Thomas Muller right now being the only other real candidate for taking the well-deserved title from Ribery.

Manager of the year: Christian Streich, SC Freiburg

From the brink of relegation, straight into the Europa League in only 16 months. That's how you become the manager of the year in Jupp Heynckes' final and record-breaking season in Bundesliga. Since he was basically forced into taking over the Freiburg job from unlucky Marcus Sorg in late December 2011, Streich has turned Freiburg into the Bundesliga's biggest surprise.

Thomas Niedermueller/Getty ImagesChristian Streich had to save Freiburg from relegation to steal Jupp Heynckes' thunder.

With not a single euro to spend, Streich had the resources and knowledge of the club’s youth academy and drew endless talents from the well. The most expensive signing in the summer was Max Kruse, who joined the club from second-tier team FC St. Pauli for less than €1 million. The attacking midfielder became an instant hit and rightly so has been called up into the Germany team for the upcoming U.S. tour.

In the meantime, Streich has become a cult figure, with German media loving to draw the picture of the manager who travels to training and to home games by bicycle; handles the media in a rather unusual way; and has kept both feet on the ground. His news conferences have become a major hit on the Internet, with Streich giving off the sensation that he is just the guy from next door who happens to be a Bundesliga coach. A rather successful one, you might add.

Game of the year: Bayern Munich 9, Hamburger SV 2

Hamburger SV suffered their largest ever Bundesliga defeat at the hands of a magic Bayern Munich side on March 30. "At times we played textbook football," the Bayern coach said after the fourth-highest Bundesliga win for Bayern Munich. It was the opening gala for the historic April, which saw Bayern score 11 and concede none in their Champions League ties against Juventus and Barcelona. Claudio Pizarro scored four, Arjen Robben provided two, with the other goals coming from Xherdan Shaqiri, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery.

“Deutscher Fußball-Meister, FCB!” sang the fans, and the next week Bayern sealed the title.

"We played very good, and I was in good form. I had not played in a while. Four goals today -- wonderful," a smiling Pizarro said. Hamburg skipper Heiko Westermann said he felt ashamed for his team and Hamburg boss Torsten Fink had to admit: "In all aspects, we were brutally bad." A few weeks later, statements coming from Barcelona struck the same note.

Biggest surprise: Hoffenheim not relegated

"The goal is to qualify for Champions League at some point," Tim Wiese told reporters prior to the season. Wiese had just joined TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on a free transfer, leaving Werder Bremen for future glory. The soon-to-be former Germany keeper had bragged about offers from clubs playing Champions League before eventually signing for the league's unloved rich kids, Hoffenheim.

"We want to play internationally," Wiese said about their Europa league hopes, later stating that the Champions League would be the objective for the following season.

Things went downhill before the season had even started, when Hoffenheim suffered the heaviest cup defeat for a Bundesliga club against a minor league team during the first round of the German Cup, a 4-0 drubbing at fourth-tier club Berliner AK. At the end of the first half of the season, Wiese had lost his place between the posts and Hoffenheim sat close to the bottom of the table. They never bounced back and slumped deeper into crisis. They finally began picking up points in April under the fourth coach of the season, Markus Gisdol, but by then relegation was almost virtually sealed.

Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty ImagesNo surprise that record-breaking Bayern Munich takes home honors for team of the year in the Bundesliga.

Going into the last match day, an away game at Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim needed a miracle, and after less than five minutes they were down 1-0. During most of the game they never got close to equalizing. But with less than 15 minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty and scored. Moments later, they were awarded another penalty and turned the game around. Two minutes into injury time Dortmund equalized and the goal was rightly disallowed. Offside! Hoffenheim had come back from the dead and will take on 1.FC Kaiserslautern with a lot of renewed confidence in the playoffs for a place in Bundesliga.

Biggest talking point: 12:12, Safe Stadium Experience Paper

Back in the first half of the season, when footballing Europe had not yet turned its focus on the land of milk and honey, an ill-fated relegation playoff between Fortuna Dusseldorf and Hertha BSC turned the spotlight on fan violence in Germany. Throughout the first half of the season the hype increased, with German politicians voicing populist opinions that forced the German Football League into a widely discussed paper, called "Safe Stadium Experience."

Fans were angered over the paper that included a threat to reduce away support, introduced strict full-body scans when entering the stadium and also -- in its original version -- a possibility of a complete ban on standing as the final measure. But instead of protesting violently, fans from all colours united behind the 12:12 campaign and spent the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of a match in silence. Three matches ahead of Dec. 12, the draft was put to vote and passed in a reduced version. During the second half of the season, fans' voices were heard again as they were able to return to protest, this time against price hikes.

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