Dortmund’s ascent continues unabated
Borussia Dortmund turned in their second scintillating season in a row, as charismatic boss Jurgen Klopp’s side retained the Bundesliga crown while posting a new record points total. Yet another talented young Germany international, Marco Reus, fired unfancied Borussia Monchengladbach to a sensational fourth-place finish, but elsewhere in the Rhineland, fallen giants Cologne were relegated for the fifth time in their history. FIFA.com reviews another eventful German top-flight season.
Phenomenon in yellow and black
Dortmund impressively defended the title they won in such dashing style last season and finished on 81 points from their 34 matches, breaking all previous records for the German top flight. The men in yellow and black won both matches against closest rivals Bayern Munich by the only goal of the game.
The destination of the title arguably came down to one single incident on Matchday 30. With Dortmund clinging onto a 1-0 lead over visiting Bayern and five minutes left to play, BVB keeper Roman Weidenfeller saved an Arjen Robben penalty. The ensuing victory sent Borussia six points clear at the top, a lead they even extended over the last four matches.
The signs are that a new centre of power is emerging in German domestic football, also evidenced by Dortmund's success in beating Munich to the signature of rising star Reus, who spurned the Bavarians’ overtures and opted for a return to the club he played for as a youth.
The 22-year-old Germany international enjoyed a stellar season for Monchengladbach, comfortably the surprise package of the season, and contributed a total of 30 goals and assists to Gladbach’s fourth place and a shot at qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Not 12 months ago, the same club needed a last-minute goal to avoid losing their top-flight status in the relegation play-off.
Farewell and adios
Along with bottom club Kaiserslautern, Cologne dropped straight into the second tier. Local hero Lukas Podolski contributed 18 goals, but even that could not save his boyhood club, and he now heads for Arsenal and what will likely be more successful times.
Fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin lived to fight again after veteran supremo Otto Rehhagel guided them to victory on the last day over Hoffenheim, coached by former Berlin boss Markus Babbel. The men from the capital earned at least a temporary reprieve and now face Fortuna Dusseldorf in a play-off.
The Bundesliga lost tradition-rich clubs in Cologne and Kaiserslautern, but also two authentic greats of the modern game, as Michael Ballack and Raul bowed out at the ages of 35 and 34 respectively. Both men are now expected to pitch up far from Europe and play out a couple more years in more exotic climes.
A man in the royal blue of Schalke proved the marksman of the season, as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar finished with 29 top flight goals, becoming the first Dutchman to finish top scorer in the Bundesliga. More importantly, the Hunter’s sterling efforts earned Schalke a place in the Champions League group stage. Next on the list was Bayern's Mario Gomez with 26 goals, followed by Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski on 22.
The attendance boom which started with the crop of new and renovated stadiums erected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ continued unabated. The average Bundesliga crowd in 2011/12 was 45,116, as the 306 fixtures attracted a total attendance of 13,805,496, a new record and unmatched anywhere else in Europe (on a comparative basis). Champions Dortmund again blazed the trail, playing all 17 of their home matches to an 80,720 full house.