Bundesliga 2022-23: Bayern nailed on as returning big names face battle – Stats Perform AI predicts

By Sports Desk August 03, 2022

Another Bundesliga campaign kicks off on Friday after a frantic close-season saw Germany's top flight robbed of its two biggest stars.

Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona, while fellow striking sensation Erling Haaland departed Borussia Dortmund as expected for Manchester City.

What do these moves do to shake up the Bundesliga, then? Perhaps not an awful lot...

Stats Perform AI has predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and have thrown up some interesting results, even if the title race is a little too predictable.

MANE TO MAINTAIN BAYERN DOMINANCE

Lewandowski's exit was offset by the arrival of Sadio Mane at Bayern, and Stats Perform AI expects Julian Nagelsmann's side to again charge clear at the top of the table.

Bayern have won 10 consecutive titles, so perhaps it is no surprise they are given an 84.93 per cent chance of taking the trophy home again in May.

That figure makes Bayern the most likely champions across all of Europe's top five leagues, with nearest contenders Dortmund only in with a 6.01 per cent shot.

RB Leipzig (4.64 per cent), Bayer Leverkusen (3.38 per cent) lead a group of 10 other clubs who are given at least a slim hope of winning the championship.

For six teams – including 2003-04 champions Werder Bremen and 2006-07 victors Stuttgart – their title tilt is over before a ball has even been kicked.

 

SCRAMBLE OUTSIDE THE TOP FOUR

Unfortunately, the top-four tussle appears as predictable as Bayern's coronation.

The champions will of course occupy one Champions League spot – their 99.53 per cent chance again the greatest across the top five leagues – while Dortmund (76.78 per cent), Leipzig (72.2 per cent) and Leverkusen (62.98 per cent) also look secure, forecast second, third and fourth respectively.

That means a return to Europe's elite competition for all of those who have qualified this year, even if Leipzig have leapfrogged Leverkusen.

Stats Perform AI suggests Union Berlin (4.66 per cent) and Freiburg (8.22 per cent) – one and three points outside the top four last term – have missed their shot, with Borussia Monchengladbach (22.94 per cent) and Eintracht Frankfurt (21.5 per cent) the most likely gatecrashers despite last season finishing 10th and 11th.

Eintracht are also in the Champions League this term after winning the Europa League, but they are considered the team most likely to return to the second-tier competition (13.32 per cent).

There could be a real scrap for those final European places, though. All but four teams have at least a 1.0 per cent likelihood of qualifying for the Europa Conference League, with title favourites Bayern one of those four.

 

SCHALKE AND WERDER FACE A FIGHT

Schalke and Werder – two of the great names of German football – have returned to the top flight following successful promotion campaigns in the 2. Bundesliga last season, but they face tricky first seasons back in the big time.

The ceiling for Schalke is a little higher, so Stats Perform AI has them finishing in the relegation play-off place in 16th.

This is despite two teams – Augsburg (14.02 per cent) and Werder (13.9 per cent) – being more likely to qualify for that play-off than Schalke (13.3 per cent).

Werder are ranked 17th, while the outlook for Augsburg is awful; 14th in the Bundesliga in 2021-22, they have a new coach in ex-Dortmund II boss Enrico Maassen and are considered a strong 38.19 per cent shot for relegation.

Bochum (30.84 per cent) are also in a little trouble, with Hertha Berlin (11.62 per cent) backed to pull away and finish 12th after their play-off scare last time out.

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    Arsenal’s form in April looks like costing them dearly again this season after they exited the Champions League and fell behind in the title race.

    After costly defeats to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich, the PA news agency looks at the Gunners’ recurring failings at this time of year.

    Same old story

    Manager Mikel Arteta backed his side to “write our story very differently” against Bayern and had previously called on them to recreate the aura of the 2003-04 “Invincibles”, who won the league without losing a game.

    They may instead be following the pattern of Arsenal teams since then who have narrowly missed out on success, particularly last season when they began April eight points clear.

    They maintained that margin by beating Leeds on April 1 but drew their next three games and then lost to eventual champions Manchester City as they finished five points behind.

    Consecutive league defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton in April 2022 contributed to Arsenal missing out on the Champions League.

    This season, they were top after beating the Seagulls but defeat to Villa left them two points behind City. That was sandwiched between the two legs of the Bayern tie, a 2-2 draw at home and Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat in Germany, leaving them needing to end a three-game winless run when they face Wolves on Saturday.

    It is not a new phenomenon either – as far back as 2007-08, Arsenal finished four points off the top after winning only one of eight games from February 23 to April 13.

    They took one point from four games in the run-in to end their 2009-10 title challenge and five from the final six games in 2010-11 to finish down in fourth, and winning their final five games in 2013-14 was not enough after they took two points from the previous four. They were top of the league for more days that season than any other team, as was the case last year with a record 248.

    Same old faces

    The PA news agency understands there are some concerns within Arsenal over tiredness and fatigue taking their toll on the players, and their playing time paints a stark picture.

    Eight of Wednesday night’s starting XI – David Raya, Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Declan Rice, captain Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz – have played over 3,000 minutes in all competitions this season.

    Those figures exclude stoppage-time and are already more than for either of the previous two campaigns, with six league games still to play.

    White, Gabriel, Odegaard and Saka have all hit that threshold in each of the last three seasons for totals in excess of 10,000, with Gabriel leading the way at 11,220. His emergence with Brazil means all bar White are now also regulars for their respective countries.

    Gabriel Martinelli could yet add a ninth name to this season’s list and Arteta must work out a way to keep his star men fresh and avoid their now traditional springtime slump.

  • Protest is needed – Tranmere vice-chair dismayed by scrapping of FA Cup replays Protest is needed – Tranmere vice-chair dismayed by scrapping of FA Cup replays

    A lower-league club boss has called for protests over the decision to scrap all FA Cup replays and warned the Premier League will “strangle” the pyramid without a strong independent regulator.

    Replays have been abolished from the first round onwards from next season as part of a minimum six-year agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League.

    The matches have long been a part of FA Cup tradition – with the first replayed final taking place in 1875 – and have in some cases been highly lucrative for lower-league clubs.

    It has long been expected that the expansion of UEFA club competitions would lead to their abolition at least from the third-round stage, but Tranmere vice-chair Nicola Palios fears this move could be the thin end of the wedge.

    “The FA and the Premier League have reached an agreement to suit themselves further at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid,” Palios posted on X.

    “Bring on the regulator and make sure it has some teeth before the Premier League strangle the pyramid.

    “Seven hundred and twenty-nine teams compete in the FA Cup. Why is its format being dictated by the Premier League who represent circa three per cent of them? Why were EFL clubs not given a say? Why is the EPL even dictating whether replays are allowed in rounds they don’t participate in? Protest is needed!”

    Next season’s domestic calendar – including the changes to the FA Cup – have been approved by the FA’s Professional Game Board, which includes EFL representation.

    The EFL has not yet commented on the matter.

    The agreement also includes fifth-round ties reverting to a weekend slot, having been played in midweek for the last five seasons. The FA Cup final will also now be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season.

    FA chief executive Mark Bullingham insists the move, which will mean up to an extra £33million for the pyramid, strengthens the FA Cup.

    Andy Holt, the chairman of Accrington, wrote on X: “Why would the hapless FA scrap early-round replays that can be lucrative to minnows? A chance to change their financial fortunes? Against EFL clubs? I expect nothing less of Masters and co Premier League buying the game into a format that suits their needs.”

    Niall Couper, the chief executive of the Fair Game football reform group, described the move as “short-sighted” and as “another nail in the coffin for the already crumbling football pyramid”.

    FA sources have challenged the notion that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs. Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

    Nevertheless they remained popular among fans, with 69.5 per cent of those taking part in a Football Supporters’ Association survey last summer believing they are an important part of the FA Cup. The FSA, which had been involved in talks with the FA over the FA Cup’s format, has not yet commented.

    Freeing up first and second-round replay dates would help to create room for any expansion of the EFL Trophy, which has been under discussion between the Premier League and the EFL. The former is keen to give top-flight clubs’ young stars more opportunities to play in competitive matches.

    However, with talks over a new financial settlement between the EFL and the Premier League stalled, it is unclear when – or even if – such an expansion would take place.

    The Professional Footballers’ Association said the move highlighted the knock-on impact to domestic football of changes agreed at the international level.

    “What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar – not a fight for available dates,” PFA chief executive Maheta Molango said.

    “(The agreement) shows how decisions that are made at an international level have a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid.

    “The current unsustainable approach to the calendar needs to be seen as an issue for every club at every level if we want to continue to protect our domestic competitions.”

  • FA Cup replays scrapped – the key questions answered FA Cup replays scrapped – the key questions answered

    FA Cup replays have been abolished as part of a new agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League on the competition’s format and funding.

    Here the PA news agency looks at the issue in closer detail.

    What has happened?

    The FA has agreed to scrap all replays from the first round proper onwards. Replays had already been phased out from the fifth-round stage but will now be ditched completely. The format change will see all fifth-round ties, which have been played in midweek for the last five seasons, revert to weekends while ties in the fourth round, fifth round and quarter-finals will be played exclusively of Premier League ties.

    The FA Cup final will be played on the penultimate weekend of Premier League games, but no top-flight matches will be played on the Saturday of that weekend.

    The Premier League will provide up to an extra £33million per season to support the pyramid as a result of the agreement, the FA said.

    Why has this happened?

    The primary driver has been the pressure placed on the domestic calendar by the expansion of UEFA’s club competitions from next season. The new format for the Champions League, for example, features an extra 64 matches next season compared to the current campaign, and spills into January for the first time, a month which had previously been the reserve of domestic football.

    But why scrap replays in the first and second rounds, where Premier League teams aren’t involved?

    FA sources say that decision has been taken for the sake of consistency in the competition, and to help EFL clubs and those lower down the pyramid resolve their own congestion issues. It is understood the EFL Trophy is another candidate for expansion as Premier League clubs look for further playing opportunities for their young stars, although with talks on a new financial settlement between the Premier League and the EFL having stalled, it is not clear when – or even if – that change will come to pass.

    FA sources have also challenged the idea that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs. Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

    What else has happened?

    The mid-season break has been scrapped to allow a mid-August start date for the new Premier League season, which should enable top-flight clubs to ensure all players can get a consecutive three-week break in the summer. The new schedule also allows for the late May Bank Holiday weekend to be ringfenced for the EFL play-offs.

    What has the reaction been?

    The Football Supporters’ Association has not yet issued any comment on the move, but its survey from last year showed continued strong support for replays, with 69.5 per cent of respondents believing they are an important part of the FA Cup.

    Nicola Palios, the vice-chair of League Two side Tranmere, said the FA and the Premier League had reached an agreement “to suit themselves at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid”, and said the new independent regulator would need the power to stop the Premier League “strangling” the lower leagues.

    FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said the changes would strengthen the FA Cup while his Premier League counterpart Richard Masters said the changes had been agreed “without compromising the excitement of knockout football”.

    The Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango said the move showed how decisions taken at FIFA and UEFA level had “a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid”.

    “What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar – not a fight for available dates,” Molango said.

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