Bundesliga predictions for 2016: a packed middle

This is the second part of our Bundesliga predictions for 2016. We examine how mid-table clubs should fair in the second half.

FC Augsburg

No panic for the Augsburger who struggled in their start to the season. They juggled between their contrasting poor domestic and entertaining European forms. The board has kept trust with manager Markus Weinzierl, who has found the right balance to steer his side above the relegation zone.

Weinzierl not only presents the best league record from matchdays 13 to 17, but he is now the longest serving manager who is currently active in the Bundesliga!

The squad has seen the arrival of defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw (AZ’67), Albian Ajeti (Basel) and the return of Nikola Đurđić (Malmö), with Sasha Mölders joining 1860 München.

Fighting spirit combined to cohesiveness made up for the lack of in-depth quality, forcing Weinzierl to rely on a counter system rather than on ball possession. The outcome of their Europa League against Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp may either result in continued work on two fronts or focus on a strong league performance, frustrating FC Bayern again along the way.

Verdict: Between 8th and 10th – close to but not enough for a Europa League spot.

FC Ingolstadt

Another stunning run by the newest Bundesliga pensioners, who are tough when playing away from home. Manager Ralph Hassenhütl was fully aware the surprise effect could not hide their inefficient offensive power in the Bundesliga, with 11 goals – and only 2 wins at home. He signed the Paraguayan striker Darian Lezcano from Basel for € 2.5 millions, making him the club’s record signing.

The Schanzer should be careful not to replicate what Paderborn did last season, dwindling down the table after the restart and getting relegated. They should work on keeping their, remaining realistic one match at a time.

Verdict: Between 10th and 13th – staying up.

Hamburger SV

The Hanseaten were expected to go through another chaotic season, but they have improved. One has to give full credit to manager Bruno Labbadia for bringing more stability and confidence to a limited squad. No new signings have been made, as the board has a long way to balance the books.

The injury of Emir Spahić may weigh on the central defense few games. The attack is very much dependent on the injury-prone Pierre-Michel Lasogga. The Bundesliga dinosaurs can neither expect to finish higher than their current position nor dream of a European spot. Finishing in a mid-table position will vindicate director Dietmar Beiersdorfer and the board for the plans made in early 2015.

Verdict: Between 9th and 11th.

FC Köln

Manager Peter Stöger and director Jörg Schmadtke continue to deliver on a plan to establish their side in the Bundesliga. Their expectations are realistic with a well calculated budget. Serbian left-back Filip Mladenovic being the only new arrival from BATE Borisov. Keeper Timo Horn is still the stronghold behind a defence capable of producing the most 0:0 scorelines in the league, while Anthony Modeste cannot do it alone all upfront.

Having scored only 18 goals so far, a mix of higher productivity in the first 45 minutes of their games and less unfavorable refereeing decisions should see them consolidate their mid-table position.

Verdict: Between 8th and 11th.

FSV Mainz 05

Manager Hermann Schmidt continues to stun critics by leading his team to a better position than anyone expects. Director Christian Heidel’s off-the-pitch perturbations are over, which will make focusing on football easier.

The manager also is aware of the importance of improving buildups, minimizing carelessness and odd defensive errors. More importantly, he hopes to keep goal scorer Yunus Malli and midfield dynamo Yoshinori Mutō before the end of the transfer window. Their presence will heavily influence the season’s outcome.

Verdict: Between 9th and 12th.

VfL Wolfsburg

The Wölfe have disappointed in the first half, as they were expected to challenge FC Bayern at the top. The uncompensated departures of Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perišić, the Volkswagen scandal and the 1:5 battering at the hand of a Robert Lewandowski tornado hurt their prospects.

The squad is still talented. It finished on top of its Champions League group and threw Manchester United out. Manager Dieter Hecking should decide between adopting a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 formation, as alterations have confused his players.

The injury to striker Bas Dost may free space for Max Kruse, while Julian Draxler and André Schürrle should improve their performances with Euro 2016 looming. The only risk – albeit minimal – is the possible departure of stalwart left-back Ricardo Rodriguez before transfer deadline to Real Madrid.

Verdict: 4th and a Champions League playoff spot – and as far as the semi-finals in Europe if lady luck helps in the draw.

[su_label] Post editor: Michel[/su_label]