There’s still a long way to go, but the 2023-24 season is shaping up to potentially be one of the most thrilling Bundesliga campaigns in recent memory; the first two months have been that exciting.
Bayern Munich only just pipped Borussia Dortmund to the title last season, but Harry Kane’s arrival was seen as significant in the Rekordmeister’s attempts to widen the gulf to the rest of the pack after their failure to replace Robert Lewandowski last year allowed others to close in.
Yet, seven games in and Bayern aren’t having it all their own way. Bayer Leverkusen are top and Stuttgart – who only avoided relegation last season thanks to a 6-1 aggregate defeat of Hamburg in a play-off – sit second. Thomas Tuchel’s men are third.
But beyond that, there’s been goals galore, superstars emerging almost out of nowhere, and much, much more. So, with top-flight domestic football paused for the international break, we’ve outlined 11 facts that tell the story of the 2023-24 Bundesliga season so far…
1. With 3.52 goals per game, the Bundesliga has seen its highest goal-per-game average in 40 years.
We did say there’s been goals galore… 17 matches over the first seven matchdays have had five or more goals in; there’s even been a couple with seven or more.
Bayern Munich thrashed Bochum 7-0 in September, while on the opening weekend of the season, Augsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach drew 4-4 in a thriller that proved to be a sign of things to come.
The Bundesliga last saw a greater goals-per-game average in 1983-84 when it was 3.58 over the entire season; that is a record for the competition. Could 2023-24 break it?
2. Serhou Guirassy has scored at least as many goals as 63 of the 95 teams from Europe’s big five leagues (66% – excluding his club Stuttgart).
So, you may have known that Serhou Guirassy is enjoying an astonishing campaign. You might also have been aware that he’s the first player to score 13 times in the first seven matchdays of a Bundesliga campaign; after all, we recently profiled the Guinea striker, so his incredible achievements aren’t a secret.
But Guirassy’s feats become even more remarkable when you compare them to actual clubs. Essentially, only a third of entire teams from the top five leagues have outscored the 27-year-old Stuttgart talisman.
He’s already broken a host of records and he could take a whole load more.
3. For the first time in Bundesliga history, three teams have each scored 22+ goals in the first seven games of a season.
We’re very much sticking with the goals and entertainment theme again here. The top three in the table are also the teams with the most goals. Granted, this isn’t especially shocking in itself, but the fact they’re all averaging over three goals per game is very notable. In fact, it’s an all-time first for the Bundesliga.
Bayern and Leverkusen have netted 23 each, while Stuttgart are on 22 and presumably very grateful for Guirassy! What’s more, these three are also the top-scoring teams across the top five leagues.
The Bundesliga is clearly the place to be for goals.
4. Five teams have won at least five of their first seven games in the Bundesliga this term – the last season that saw so many clubs win at least five of their seven opening matches was 1974-75.
Dortmund took the title race to the final game of the season last term, before crumbling and allowing Bayern to win it again. Could we be in for another close tussle this campaign?
It’s been nearly 50 years since five clubs had five or more wins at this point of the season. Gladbach – who went on to win the league – Eintracht Frankfurt, Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburg and Schalke all had five victories to their names after seven matches back then.
This season, Leverkusen and Stuttgart have six each, while Bayern, Dortmund and Hoffenheim are on five. After a decade of Bayern dominance, a real dogfight at the top would be long overdue.
5. Three teams (Köln, Bochum and Mainz) have failed to win any of their first seven matches this season. It’s just the third time so many teams have been winless at this stage (after 2020-21 and 2013-14).
From one extreme to the other… Mainz and Köln have been here before, beginning the 2020-21 season in a similarly underwhelming fashion.
However, on that occasion neither club ended up getting relegated. Can they repeat that feat this season? Our season predictor certainly suggests they’ve still some hope, even if they’ve only collectively got three points from 14 games.
6. Thomas Müller celebrated his 322nd victory on Matchday 7 against Freiburg, in what was his 448th league game, equalling the record of Manuel Neuer for the most wins in Bundesliga history.
He may not get the recognition of more ‘fashionable’ stars, but what a career Thomas Müller has had, and continues to enjoy. Arguably one of the best players in Europe this century, it’s fair to say the Germany international is underrated by many.
But that’s rarely been the case at Bayern, where his longevity is putting him in close proximity to some major records. The next one in his sights is to surpass teammate Manuel Neuer for the most wins in Bundesliga history, which he could do straight after the international break.
Neuer, 37, is due to return imminently from a broken leg, however, so this is a record that could change hands a few times between now and the end of the season.
7. With his brace against Freiburg on Matchday 4, Mats Hummels has scored in 16 consecutive Bundesliga seasons, equalling the Bundesliga record held by five other players (most recently Olaf Thon from 1984-85 to 1999-2000).
Speaking of longevity… Mats Hummels’ decision to leave Bayern in 2019 may have impacted his ability to challenge for records such as the most wins, but it’s probably helped him play regularly for longer.
As such, Hummels has now scored in 16 successive Bundesliga campaigns, making him one of only six players ever to achieve the feat. If he continues in the German top flight next season and manages to add to his tally, he’ll then be out in front as the player to have scored in the most consecutive campaigns.
8. Harry Kane set a record for goal involvements (12 – eight goals, four assists) for a player in their first seven Bundesliga appearances since detailed data collection began in 2004-05.
We couldn’t possibly have done something on the Bundesliga without referencing Harry Kane; after all, his signing dominated the news agenda before the season started.
You might say he’s been overshadowed by the likes of Guirassy simply because the Guinean’s startlingly good start to the campaign makes for such a great story, but Kane’s adaptation to life at the Allianz Arena shouldn’t be downplayed.
9. Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface leads the Bundesliga in shots with 45. Since 2004-05, no other player has attempted more than 27 in their first seven Bundesliga appearances (Kane, Anthony Modeste and Marko Pantelic with 27 each).
Guirassy isn’t the only striker who’s been stealing some of the limelight from Kane. Victor Boniface has enjoyed a lightning start to his first season in one of Europe’s top five leagues, having arrived from Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in pre-season.
He’s scored seven goals in as many games – which is already just two away from equalling his personal record for an entire league campaign – from 45 shots; that’s a whopping 17 more attempts than any player has managed in their first seven in the Bundesliga since Opta began collecting this data in 2004-05.
The 22-year-old is a big threat in a Leverkusen team that’s top of the table and looking brilliant under Xabi Alonso; he’s definitely one to watch for the future.
10. On matchday 1 Mainz’s Ludovic Ajorque became the first player in the Bundesliga’s history to miss two penalties in a single match – both attempts were saved by Union Berlin’s Fredrik Rønnow.
Mainz forward Ludovic Ajorque would love to be having a season as productive as Boniface, but the Frenchman really hasn’t had things go his way; he’s scored one goal in five appearances and his team are second-bottom without a win to their name.
It all got off to a terrible start as he saw two penalties saved against Union Berlin on Matchday 1, a game that Mainz lost 4-1. Had those been scored, they’d have gone into stoppage time level at 3-3.
He’s the first player to ever miss two penalties in one Bundesliga game; the man on the other end of the spot kick, Fredik Rønnow, is one of three goalkeepers to save two penalties in the same match across the top five leagues this season.
11. Heidenheim have named 10 German players in their starting XI six times this season. No other Bundesliga club have had more than nine Germans in a starting line-up in 2023-24.
Tiny Heidenheim’s story is a heart-warming one. Promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history last season, so much about their narrative was intriguing. There was the fact their coach, Frank Schmidt, is the longest-serving manager across the top five leagues having been appointed 16 years ago, plus the population of their home town is just 58,000. For context, that’s a little like Scarborough (61,000) getting to the Premier League.
Their promotion was also built around German players; they named at least 10 in their starting XI in every game last season, and this term they’ve stuck to those principles.
Technically speaking, though, they have actually formed starting XIs comprising solely of German players this season. Lennard Maloney is regarded as American, with this month’s United States call-up making him Heidenheim’s first ever “senior national player“, but he was born in and raised in Berlin. So, really, they have named all-German XIs this season, which is something of a rare accomplishment in modern football.