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World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811083 Mission complete Mission+complete World

In 50 years of the Bundesliga, we’ve never seen a campaign so thoroughly dominated by one team as Bayern Munich did this season. The Bavarians broke numerous records — including most points, wins and least goals conceded in a season — on their way to clinching the title at the earliest stage in Bundesliga history. And yet, the German league enjoyed one of its most competitive seasons in decades, highlighted by its eye-opening success abroad.


All seven clubs that played in Europe this season made it through to the knockout stages — the first time that has happened — proof that the Bundesliga is rising among the world’s very best leagues. With the league’s golden anniversary season in the books and the future looking bright, let’s hand out some awards for 2013.


-Thomas Hautmann

World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811087 Breakout player of the year - Ilkay Gundogan Breakout+player+of+the+year+-+Ilkay+Gundogan World

A year ago, whispers around the league were that Ilkay Gundogan was never going to be the desired difference maker for Dortmund. Gundogan often looked uncomfortable in his first season at BVB after being converted from offensive midfielder at Nurnberg, to defensive midfielder for the black and yellows. This year, however, the 22-year old grew into the role and took the league by storm, with the German media already anointing him “the next Schweinsteiger.”


The comparisons aren’t unfounded. Gundogan’s impressive work rate, creativity and passing prowess were instrumental to Dortmund’s run to the Champions League final—in which he scored—and have made him into one of Europe’s best and most-coveted deep-lying playmakers. If there is one stat that sums up just how much Gundogan has meant to Jurgen Klopp's side it is this: in the six games that Gundogan missed due to injury this season, BVB won just once.

Boris Streubel - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811090 Flop of the year - Eljero Elia Flop+of+the+year+-+Eljero+Elia World

Elia, once considered the Netherlands’ brightest young talent, came to Bremen on a €5.5m transfer from Juventus, with both parties hopeful that a return to the Bundesliga would resurrect his form. Bremen was banking on Elia to be a key cog in their quest to compete in Europe again after a three–year absence.


Instead, Elia was a disappointment of epic proportions, tallying no goals and just three assists in 24 games as Bremen just managed to stave off relegation by four points. Elia, for his part, didn’t even feature in the crucial final games after the team suspended him for a late night speeding violation.

Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811089 Signing of the year - Dante Signing+of+the+year+-+Dante World

All the buzz in Munich this summer was over €40m man Javi Martinez, but it is Dante who, at a tenth of that price, proved to be the best buy of the season. Brought in to serve as a security blanket for the central defense, the tall Brazilian with the impeccable afro instead beat out Jerome Boateng for the starting job right out of camp. After Holger Badstuber’s season-ending injury, Dante established himself as the anchor of the most dominant defense the Bundesliga has ever seen, earning his first call-ups to the Brazilian national team in the process. All in his first year at what today is the best club in the world. Astonishing.

World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811088 Manager of the year: Jupp Heynckes Manager+of+the+year%3A+Jupp+Heynckes World

Frankfurt’s Veh and Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp certainly deserve plenty of consideration, but how can you not go with Heynckes? Bayern had considerably more talent and depth than any other team, true, but someone still had to drive the car en route to the most dominant campaign in league history.


In his swan song season—Heynckes recently announced his retirement— the 68-year-old led Bayern to its fifth Champions League title and the club’s first ever treble, a feat that has already led people in Munich to talk about erecting him a statue.  Indeed, it was a dream ending to an illustrious career.

Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811086 Biggest disappointment - Hoffenheim Biggest+disappointment+-+Hoffenheim World

Speaking of promoted sides who exceed expectations, it was just five years ago when teeny-tiny Hoffenheim — a suburb of Sinsheim with a population of just over 3,300 — were top of the table at the winter break in their rookie season. But the fairy tale has come to a sudden halt for the club that carries US national teamers Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson.


Despite entering the season with dreams of Europe, Hoffenheim failed to deliver the physical and creative brand of soccer it has been praised for the past few years. Instead, they looked befuddled and overwhelmed, conceding a league-high 67 goals. Almost relegated, Hoffenheim scored two late penalties on the last matchday in Dortmund to secure a do-or-die relegation playoff with hungry Kaiserslautern, who finished third in the 2. Bundesliga. Hoffenheim retained its Bundesliga status by winning the two-legged relegation tie.

Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811330 Biggest surprise - Eintracht Frankfurt Biggest+surprise+-+Eintracht+Frankfurt World

No newly-promoted team has caused such a stir in the Bundesliga since Kaiserslautern famously soared to the title in 1998. Frankfurt exceeded all hopes and expectations from the very beginning, winning six of their first eight games and never dropping below the top six in the table the rest of the way.


Led by goal-getter Alexander Meier – his 16 goals were a league-best for midfielders and good for third overall– and young stars in-the-making Sebastian Rode and Sebastian Jung, Frankfurt electrified and bewildered the Bundesliga on their way to a very surprising Europa League spot. Armin Veh deserves a lot of praise and has solidified his standing as one of Germany’s very best managers.

Kai Pfaffenbach - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Bundesliga review for 2012-13 season 31811084 Player of the Year - Franck Ribery Player+of+the+Year+-+Franck+Ribery World

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the POY comes out of Munich, but out of several deserving candidates—Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller come to mind—it was the tireless Frenchman who had the finest year of them all. Despite having danger men all over the pitch, it was Ribery over the left side who was the creative centerpiece of Bayern’s record-setting attack.


In the end, Ribery accounted for ten goals and a league-best 14 assists, making him the Bundesliga’s third-best scorer overall. But what doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is equally telling of his MVP season: Ribery’s never-ending supply of dangerous crosses, tricky dribblings and sublime combination play with David Alaba set the table for Bayern all year.


Not surprisingly, top German soccer magazine kicker gave Ribery the highest ever rating for a season, and the Frenchman is primed to take home his second Footballer of the Year award in Germany after grabbing his first in 2008.

Alex Grimm - Getty Images
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