Despite the respective exits of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland last year, the Bundesliga continues to produce goals aplenty.
Beer, sausage and goals. Yes, that might be a good title for an autobiography of an old-school striker who wasn’t too focused on nutrition, but they are also three things you might associate with the beautiful country of Germany.
Plenty of football fans have a soft spot for the Bundesliga, which has produced some of the best players in the game across the decades, and though the title race has been dominated by Bayern Munich since Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund last won it in 2011-12, there has still been plenty of entertainment on offer.
Who can forget when it was literally the only game in town? The Germans decided to get back to playing football before any other top league in May 2020 following the global coronavirus outbreak. Stadiums may have been empty, but plenty were drawn in and adopted Bundesliga teams for at least a few weeks before the other leagues resumed.
In recent years in particular, the Bundesliga has seen plenty of goals. We recently took a look at the great Premier League goal explosion. The Bundesliga obviously read it and said: “Hold my stein.”
As outlined in that article, Germany’s top flight regularly sees a high volume of goals compared to the other biggest leagues in Europe. Of the top 11 seasons for goals per game since 1992 in any of the Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1, nine have been in Germany, including the current season, which has seen an average of 3.17. The top five seasons are all Bundesliga seasons, with four of those coming in the last five years. The 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign produced the most at 3.21 goals per game.
The German top flight was already producing lots of goals this season, but decided to go goal crazy again at the weekend, with lots of action at both ends of the table.
Leaders Bayern set the bar particularly high as they thrashed Schalke 6-0 at the Allianz Arena, recording an expected goals (xG) of 5.3, the highest by a team in a single game in Europe’s big five leagues this season. Thomas Tuchel’s men wiped the floor with Die Knappen, who were caught, erm… ‘knappen’, again and again (sorry). Despite their wobbles this season, it was the fifth time Bayern have scored at least six goals in the league, an all-time Bundesliga record in a single campaign.
The gauntlet was laid down to title rivals Dortmund, who responded by going 4-0 up against Borussia Monchengladbach inside 32 minutes, ultimately winning 5-2 to move back to within a point of the league leaders.
Edin Terzić’s team seemed to want to prove a point, taking 34 shots in all against Gladbach. In fact, Dortmund equalled their club record in the Bundesliga since detailed data collection began in 2004-05, only once before having as many shots in a game – in a 2-1-win against Kaiserslautern in March 2006.
It took Dortmund to a total of 53 Bundesliga goals scored at Signal Iduna Park this season, which is both the most by any team in the Bundesliga in 2022-23 and the first time they have scored as many home goals in a league season in 40 years. Not bad for a team that sold Erling Haaland at the end of last season.
Dortmund have in fact maintained their impressive productivity in front of goal since selling Haaland to Manchester City. They averaged 2.38 goals per game last season in the Bundesliga (excluding own goals), with the Norwegian scoring 22 times. They are matching that output this season without him, despite the fact no BVB player has yet reached double figures for goals in the league, with Donyell Malan their top scorer on nine. They have actually increased their overall xG as well – up from 1.91 per game last season to 2.04 this, with their shots per game going up from 13.3 to 15.8.
With Sebastian Haller starting to find his feet following his move from Ajax, having missed the first half of the season due to cancer treatment, it is perhaps less of a surprise that Dortmund are scoring so freely. They’ve hit 19 goals in their last five games, and 11 in their last two.
They weren’t the only ones to see a goal bonanza on matchday 32 in the Bundesliga, though. Köln and Hertha Berlin started things off with a seven-goal contest on Friday. Hertha are scrapping for their lives, and after going one down early on, were able to turn the game around to lead 2-1 just after the half-hour mark. However, the hosts hit back and went 3-2 up before the break, before adding two more in the second half to leave Hertha on the brink of relegation to the second tier.
Saturday also saw Bochum beat Augsburg 3-2 while Union Berlin defeated Freiburg 4-2 in the battle for Champions League qualification. After Sunday’s action – which included a thrilling turnaround from RB Leipzig to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 with two late goals – there had been a total of 42 goals scored on matchday 32 in the Bundesliga, an average of 4.7 per game. That total is the most scored on a matchday in the competition this season and just the second time since the turn of the millennium that so many goals have been scored on a Bundesliga matchday, just behind the 44 goals scored on the final day of the 2001-02 season.
These numbers are all the more remarkable when you consider that, along with Haaland, Robert Lewandowski also left the Bundesliga at the end of last season as he swapped Bayern for Barcelona after scoring 35 league goals in 2021-22. Last year’s second-highest scorer, Patrick Schick (24 goals), has only been able to start 10 games for Bayer Leverkusen this season (14 appearances overall) and fourth-top scorer from 2021-22 Christopher Nkunku (20 goals) has only been able to make 18 league starts for RB Leipzig (23 appearances overall). The 2021-22 season saw 954 goals scored in the Bundesliga overall at an average of 3.12 per game, with last weekend pushing this season ahead by 0.05, which shows that new players have stepped up to replace the goals left behind by last season’s stars.
Looking back further into history, though, this season is far from the most productive. Goals in Germany have flowed pretty much ever since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. The very first season still stands as the second-best for goals per game at 3.57, though there were only 240 games played. The most ever was in the 1983-84 campaign, where an incredible 1,097 goals were scored in 306 games at an average of 3.58. Indeed, even if the current rate of 3.17 continues until the end of 2022-23, it will only rank 22nd in the all-time list for highest-scoring seasons in the German top flight.
It might be too much to expect the Bundesliga to break 1,000 goals for a 14th time, with another 88 needed from the final 18 games, or an average of 4.9 goals per game from here on in. At some point you surely have to assume that someone, somewhere will successfully defend an attack.
Whatever happens in the final two rounds of games, though, there is sure to be plenty more twists, turns and excitement as the sun sets on another goal-filled Bundesliga campaign.