Bundesliga 2021: The last 12 months in review
Bayern Munich are on the brink of a historic 10th consecutive Bundesliga after clinching their 30th German top-flight title in a dominant 2021.
In a year of records, Robert Lewandowski surpassed Gerd Muller’s long-standing haul of 40 goals in the 1971-72 season by hitting 41 for the Bavarians.
Elsewhere, Schalke’s misery was complete as they slipped into 2. Bundesliga, while Wolfsburg returned to the Champions League after a five-year absence.
As 2021 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of highs and lows in Germany's top flight.
January: Dortmund’s struggles continue
After parting company with Lucien Favre in mid-December, Borussia Dortmund did not experience the turnaround they hoped for under interim boss Edin Terzic.
Just three victories in January saw them drop to seventh while Bayern breezed to five wins from six, only dropping points at Borussia Monchengladbach.
There was a rare bright spot for Schalke, who recorded their first win in 31 games — to avoid equalling the league record — as Matthew Hoppe became the first American to hit a Bundesliga hat-trick in their 4-0 win over Hoffenheim.
February: Schalke dispense with coach No4
Schalke’s annus horribilis continued as they sacked former Tottenham boss Christian Gross on the final day of February, becoming the first Bundesliga team to employ five coaches in a season.
Elsewhere, Bayern stuttered, having to come from behind to draw 3-3 with Arminia Bielefeld and losing 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt.
At Mainz, the Bo Svensson revolution got underway with two wins and a draw giving them renewed hope.
March: Bayern begin to take hold
Hansi Flick’s side started the month just two points clear of RB Leipzig, but took control of the title race after winning three from three.
Die Roten laid down a marker by sweeping Dortmund aside, beating them 4-2 — despite Erling Haaland’s early brace.
Bayern also battered Stuttgart 4-0 with only 10 men after seeing Alphonso Davies sent off with just 12 minutes on the clock.
Svensson’s Mainz were the only other team to go unbeaten, finally climbing out of the relegation zone for the first time since Matchday 8.
Peter Bosz paid the price for Bayer Leverkusen’s form — winning just three times in 2021 — and was sacked on March 23.
April: Dortmund begin top-four march
Having only won one of their last four, Dortmund began to find their groove under Terzic — winning four straight matches in April as they climbed to fifth.
Bayern endured a tough month by their standards, winning just three and scoring only eight. A 2-1 defeat to Mainz was their final defeat of the season.
Two more managers lost their jobs, with Koln removing Markus Gisdol and Augsburg binning Heiko Herrlich.
May: Bayern crowned champions again
For the ninth season in a row and the 30th time overall, Bayern lifted the Bundesliga trophy, with Lewandowski hitting his 41st goal of the season in the final-day win over Augsburg.
After Bayern thrashed Monchengladbach 6-0, Dortmund beat nearest challengers RB Leipzig 3-2 to hand the Bavarians the title.
BVB clinched third spot and Champions League football before battering Leipzig 4-1 in the DFB-Pokal final to end a memorable spell as interim boss for Terzic.
Also moving on was Florian Kohfeldt who failed to save Werder Bremen from joining Schalke in 2. Bundesliga.
June: All change, please
Each of the top six would have a new manager for the upcoming season after a string of changes were announced in the final weeks of the previous campaign.
The biggest news was Julian Nagelsmann’s appointment at Bayern, where Flick had fallen out with the club’s hierarchy. Jesse Marsch also joined Leipzig from sister club RB Salzburg.
Marco Rose was unveiled as Dortmund’s new boss while Wolfsburg, having lost Oliver Glasner to Eintracht, brought Mark van Bommel back to the Bundesliga.
Adi Hutter — who took Frankfurt to fifth — was the new man at Monchengladbach, who fell away after it became known Rose was BVB-bound.
July: Transfer window hots up
Jadon Sancho’s long-awaited move to Manchester United was finally completed in July, with the Red Devils paying £76.5million to bring the Dortmund winger back to the Premier League.
Ibrahima Konate also moved to England, joining Liverpool for £36million, while Dayot Upamecano replaced Real Madrid-bound David Alaba at Bayern at a cost of £38.25m.
August: Wolfsburg off to a flyer
New Wolfsburg boss Van Bommel made the perfect start, winning three from three to top the early standings.
Leverkusen, Bayern and surprise package Freiburg went unbeaten with two wins and a draw.
However, there were already concerns at Leipzig where Marsch’s men won just once in the opening month, going down to Mainz and Wolfsburg.
September: Bayern click into gear
You cannot keep a good team down for long — particularly if that team is Bayern. The reigning champions went three from three in September, scoring nine times.
Leverkusen and Wolfsburg were hot on their tails, with new Bayer boss Gerardo Seoane — poached from Young Boys — dropping just five points in the opening weeks of the season.
In fifth, Freiburg continued their impressive start under Christian Streich by extending their unbeaten run to six games — albeit with three draws.
October: Marco van Bomm-ed out
Things quickly turned sour for Dutch legend Van Bommel, who was relieved of his duties after four straight Bundesliga defeats and a DFB-Pokal humiliation at fourth-tier Preussen Munster after Wolfsburg used too many substitutes.
Dortmund posted a 100% record in the month with four wins, though their mood was tempered by the news Haaland would miss a month after suffering a hip flexor injury.
There was better news for RB Leipzig who stabilised by going four unbeaten, including a 4-1 demolition of winless new-boys Greuther Furth.
November: A title race?
Champions Bayern ended the month a point clear of second-placed Dortmund after a surprise 2-1 defeat at Augsburg.
BVB also lost one of their three fixtures, but November belonged to Eintracht.
Die Adler were the only side to win all three of their games — particularly impressive as they had tasted victory just once until that point, against Bayern.
December: Dominant Bayern race clear
If November had promised a proper Bundesliga title race, the final month of 2021 quashed those thoughts as Bayern raced nine points clear of Dortmund.
A 3-2 win at Die Schwarzgelben could prove to be the turning point in the final reckoning, while Bayern ran in nine goals against Stuttgart (5-0) and Wolfsburg (4-0).
By contrast, BVB won just once — against hapless Greuther Furth, who ended the year with just five points and 49 goals against.
Meanwhile, the American Dream is over in Leipzig, where Marsch was dismissed after just four Bundesliga wins and an early Champions League exit.
Former Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco will pick up the pieces after the Winterpause.