Lewis Ambrose·30 May 2023
Lewis Ambrose·30 May 2023
Just before we wrap on 2022/23, it’s time to hand out our awards.
This is a really, really tough choice this season. A lot of players have had good spurts of form this season — Union Berlin’s Sheraldo Becker in the opening months, Borussia Dortmund’s Donyell Malen of late — but very few have consistently performed through the 34 matchdays.
That’s made clear when you see no player finished with more than 16 goals, while no defence has covered itself in glory thanks to the efforts of an individual and even superbly talented young midfielders like Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham have had rough patches. And it makes this a tough choice.
Someone who has been consistently excellent, even as his team have gone through peaks and troughs, is Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani. An exceptional dribbler, a good finisher, and entirely selfless, the Frenchman has racked up 15 goals and 14 assists in his first Bundesliga campaign.
A truly impressive return.
When it isn’t necessarily a breakthrough season, it can be hard to appreciate just how impressive seasons can be. It feels like we quickly become desensitised to how good players are.
Two former England youth team-mates, Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham, are the clear pick of the lot even if they don’t still spring to mind as young players anymore.
Bellingham takes the cake, though, for his sheer consistency. The 19-year-old is as box-to-box as can be and was outstanding both when Dortmund struggled early on in the season and as they put together a superb run in 2023, adding goals and assists to what was already an all-round game.
Can it always be Union Berlin? Since promotion in 2019 they’ve lost key players in every single summer, yet have gone from 11th in their first top flight campaign, to seventh and into the Conference League, then to fifth and a Europa League spot before securing fourth and Champions League football now.
Every year, they manage to pick up more points, score more goals and keep more clean sheets.
For another shout, look no further than Werder Bremen simply for how often they delivered surprises. Bremen have scored 19 of their 51 goals in the 76th minute or later, a frankly absurd record as they have continuously turned games around.
Another pleasant surprise has, simply, been the fact Bayern didn’t run away with things!
For all the reasons stated above, it can be no other than Urs Fischer, who continues his miracle work at Union year on year.
As player of the season and a free transfer, it has to be Kolo Muani again.
For something a bit different, defender Daniel Doekhi joined Union on a free transfer from Vitesse Arnhem and has been superb at the back and offered a huge goal threat from set-pieces.
Marco Rose turned things around at RB Leipzig but the real standout star in the dugout has come somewhere else, with Xabi Alonso an instant hit at Bayer Leverkusen.
The legendary midfielder took over a side sat in the relegation zone with just five points from eight games. They had scored just nine goals and conceded 16.
Last season’s top scorer, Patrik Schick, hasn’t played all that much and wonderkid Florian Wirtz was missing for half the season. But Alonso had an instant impact.
Since he took over, Leverkusen have the fourth most points in the league, with just Bayern, Dortmund, Leipzig picking up more. First he fixed the defence, then he unleashed the attack. It has been a thrilling start to his top flight career as a coach.
Donyell Malen and Karim Adeyemi combined before the World Cup: 17 Bundesliga starts, zero goals, one assist.
Donyell Malen and Karim Adeyemi combined since the World Cup: 22 Bundesliga starts, 15 goals, 10 assists.
From presumed flops to the best duo of wingers around. The two exploded into life and fired Dortmund’s incredible run of form.
The summer saw Timo Baumgartl complete a recovery from testicular cancer before returning to action in September, Marco Richter had an operation to remove a testicular tumour and returned just five weeks later to start the season with a bang and Sébastien Haller was diagnosed between signing for Borussia Dortmund and making his debut before making a recovery and finally featuring for the club in January.
Sometimes, some things just put it all back into perspective.
So Marco Richter recovered from that operation, scored the winner in just his second appearance of the season, then scored this in a 2-2 draw a week later. Breathtaking.
There have been some eye-catching big results throughout the season but these three really stood out.
Dortmund 2-3 Bremen
Dortmund were two goals up at home after 88 minutes and somehow conspired to lose, with Bremen pulling one back in the 89th minute before netting two in stoppage time to stun the Yellow Wall into silence.
Augsburg 3-3 RB Leipzig
Augsburg raced into a shock 3-0 lead before defender Iago received a red card to turn the game on its head. Deservedly behind up to that point, Leipzig managed 13 shots to Augsburg’s one from there, quickly pulling one back before scoring again in the 89th and 90th to head home with a point.
Mainz 2-3 Schalke
Having led twice while battling for their Bundesliga lives, Schalke piled on late with the scores level, leaving Mainz chances on the break before, finally, Marius Bülter struck the latest goal in Bundesliga history (101:13) to secure all three points from the penalty spot.