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Ranking Every Bundesliga Team on Their Attacking Strength

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2014

Ranking Every Bundesliga Team on Their Attacking Strength

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    Martin Meissner

    If there is one thing the Bundesliga is good for, it's producing exciting, fast-paced attacking football.

    The German top flight has come a long way since its nadir in the mid-2000s and now not only boasts the highest average of goals scored per game among Europe's top leagues but also many of the world's top attacking players.

    A Bayern Munich contingent that contains Arjen Robben, Ballon d'Or nominee Franck Ribery and mega-talents such as Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller is only the beginning. The Bundesliga runs deep with strong attacking players from top to bottom.

    B/R has ranked them in terms of their quality, in order of increasing class. Click "Begin Slideshow" to start the countdown from No. 18.

18) Eintracht Braunschweig

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    Martin Meissner

    At the bottom of the list is the team that is bottom of the league, Eintracht Braunschweig. That should be no surprise considering that ever since a win became valued at three points, attacking football has been rewarded.

    Having only been promoted back to the Bundesliga last summer following a lengthy absence, Eintracht Braunschweig have showed heart and desire to stay in the German top flight, but they've lacked any kind of competence in and around the penalty box.

    Domi Kumbela is the closest to a reliable striker that Braunschweig have, and his strike rate is a modest one goal per three games (nine in 27). In fairness, the Congolese forward has had little support from his midfield, with young talent Karim Bellarabi especially disappointing.

    Yet Bellarabi is tied with with Jan Hochscheidt as Braunschweig's second-most prolific scorer with just three goals. It's no wonder that Eintracht have scored just 28 in 31 games.

17) Nurnberg

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    Michael Probst

    Nurnberg are fortunate to have a gem in Josip Drmic; otherwise, they might have already been confirmed as having lost the battle to avoid relegation.

    The Franconian side have scored just 36 goals this season, a record that hovers not far above the one-per-game mark. Of those goals, Drmic has scored 16 and assisted three more, meaning that he has directly contributed to more than half his team's offensive output.

    Behind Drmic, FCN's next-best scorer, Hiroshi Kiyotake, has just three goals and eight assists.

    There is not much beyond Drmic in the FCN team as far as goal-scoring ability is concerned. If they avoid the drop, they will have one man to thank.

16) Werder Bremen

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    Frank Augstein

    Under Thomas Schaaf, Werder Bremen were once the Bundesliga's best and most exciting attacking team. With players like Diego, Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and Claudio Pizarro in their ranks, the northern club has been home to many top attacking players in recent years. But no more.

    This season, only Nurnberg and Braunschweig have scored fewer goals than Bremen, who have gotten precious little from players who ought to have done better.

    Werder's problem is a lack of leadership. Nils Petersen is the club's top scorer with seven goals. The other 30 are distributed strangely evenly among the squad's many other players—three have four, for example.

    Once a Netherlands international, Eljero Elia has descended into obscurity. Aaron Hunt is no longer a candidate for the German national team either, and Franco di Santo has more bookings than goals.

    Although they will not be relegated in May, Bremen have some serious problems to address this summer. If not, they could be looking at a descent to 2. Bundesliga football in 12 months' time.

15) Freiburg

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    Patrick Seeger

    Freiburg have had to overcome great adversity this season as coach Christian Streich was required to integrate a hugely changed team into his tactical system after losing many of his best players last summer.

    It's been a difficult campaign for SCF, but with three games remaining, they have a good chance of avoiding relegation. Still, their attack has been rather poor.

    Admir Mehmedi has pitched in 11 goals, but his support has been little. Felix Klaus has five and several others three apiece. Mehmedi is by no means a world-beater, but he's SCF's best attacker. And their second-best is the decent but similarly modest Jonathan Schmid.

    It's cruel to criticize a team that has such a limited budget and that was picked apart last summer, but as with many sides towards the worse end of this list, Freiburg will need some seriously inspired signings if they are to be confident of their ability to survive the drop next season.

14) Hertha BSC

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    Markus Schreiber

    Like Nurnberg, Hertha BSC are in for a bit of trouble next year when leading scorer Adrian Ramos leaves the club this summer. The Colombia international has long been the Berlin club's main supplier of goals, and this season his tally of 16 is bettered only by Robert Lewandowski and Mario Mandzukic.

    Past Ramos, there isn't much to speak of at Hertha.

    Sami Allagui has pitched in eight goals and Per Skjelbred six assists, but there generally is a shortage of finishing quality and creativity. And that explains why Hertha have scored just two more goals than Nurnberg, the second-least prolific team in the Bundesliga.

13) Augsburg

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    Matthias Schrader

    Now in their third season in the Bundesliga, Augsburg are becoming an established first-division side.

    Although relegation candidates in years past, they shed that moniker early this season. With three games left to play, they stand an impressive eighth, still in contention for a Europa League spot.

    One reason for Augsburg's success has been their ability to win close games. But their attack has been quite good. Andre Hahn came from seemingly nowhere this season and now is a Germany international. His pace and direct play on the wing has been lethal.

    Opposite top scorer Hahn is Tobias Werner, who has scored a respectable nine goals and assisted six more from the left wing. FCA's third-most reliable scorer is, curiously, center forward Halil Altintop.

    But despite their having a limited presence in the middle, Augsburg still manage to score more often than not.

12) Hannover

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    Nigel Treblin

    Hannover rank 12th in the Bundesliga in terms of goals scored and are placed in the same position in this appraisal of their attack.

    Tayfun Korkut's side have had little money to work with in the transfer market, but the Lower Saxony outfit have managed to create a relatively effective attack.

    Up front, Mame Biram Diouf is a much better striker than he's shown in what has been an injury-blighted season. His backups are loanee Artjoms Rudnevs and Didier Ya Konan, both of whom are proven Bundesliga forwards. Jan Schlaudraff is another very good and very underrated player who has been better in recent years, although he does not have the excuse of being injured.

    In midfield, Korkut has perhaps the most underrated playmaker in the Bundesliga in Szabolcs Huszti and two solid wingers in Lars Stindl and rising talent Leonardo Bittencourt.

    Hannover are not a team that will dazzle other teams off the pitch with brilliant attacking displays, but they do have players who are capable of turning a game.

11) Eintracht Frankfurt

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    Paulo Duarte

    Coming in at No. 11 are last season's sixth-placed finishers, Eintracht Frankfurt, who showed their attacking prowess in the Europa League earlier in the campaign.

    Traditionally a mid-table team, Frankfurt have built a solid squad under Armin Veh, including some quality attackers.

    Alex Meier and ex-Real Madrid man Joselu lead the team in scoring with eight goals apiece, followed by summer signing Vaclav Kadlec with five. The numbers aren't incredible, but Frankfurt have a good diversity of options.

    In addition to the central attackers, Frankfurt have options on the wing. Stefan Aigner has given eight assists from wide midfield, while fellow right-sided player Sebastian Jung has chipped in seven more from a defensive position.

    Frankfurt are somewhat lopsided with most of their attacks coming from the right and are perhaps lacking a lethal scorer, but they have some quality and rank above more than a third of the table.

10) Mainz

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    Frank Augstein

    The miracle that is 1. FSV Mainz continues to impress. What Thomas Tuchel has managed to do with the club's limited resources is nothing short of extraordinary.

    If the season were to end today, they would finish seventh and take a spot in the Europa League playoffs for the second time in four years.

    A preacher of counterattacking football, Tuchel has scrapped the idea of having a traditional center forward and instead used his pacey strikers on the wings with technician Shinji Okazaki in the center. The Japan international has proven to be an inspired signing, providing 13 goals this season while striker-turned-winger Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Nicolai Muller have added nine apiece.

    The trio of Okazaki, Choupo-Moting and Muller account for the majority of Mainz's productivity with 31 of the club's 46 strikes.

    Behind them is youngster Yunus Malli and little else, but Tuchel seems to be doing just fine. For just €3.3 million, he secured a very strong attacking trio.

9) Stuttgart

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    Michael Probst

    Stuttgart may be battling relegation, but as with Hamburg, credit should be given where it's due: The Swabian attack, if still not performing to the extent of its potential, is certainly mid-table.

    Vedad Ibisevic is an excellent striker and VfB would surely have several more goals if not for his lengthy suspension. Martin Harnik is a deadly scorer and skillful technician on the wing, while Alexandru Maxim proved to be somewhat of a revelation in the fall. Ibrahima Traore has more ability than his record of two goals and five assists implies, while Timo Werner is, at 18, perhaps the best attacking talent in Germany.

    Stuttgart have had somewhat of an identity crisis with only Ibisevic having been a starter all season long. Players have come into and gone out of form, but in terms of quality and depth, they have just enough class to be ranked in the top half of the table.

8) Bayer Leverkusen

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    Rolf Vennenbernd

    Ranking a somewhat disappointing eighth is Bayer Leverkusen, a side that in previous years would have been much more favorably placed. But this season has seen the club struggle substantially with their attack being a culprit.

    Part of the problem for Leverkusen is their lack of a discernible playmaker.

    Sami Hyypia played a 4-3-3 with three holding midfielders before his recent departure as coach. Now Sascha Lewandowski has switched to a 4-2-3-1 system. Despite his versatility, Gonzalo Castro is more a wide player or even holding midfielder than a true No. 10.

    On the wings, Son Heung-Min has been rather disappointing, failing to take the next step in his career after an excellent 2012-13 campaign at Hamburg. And with no capable option available on the opposite flank, 17-year-old Julian Brandt has been called upon to start on the regular.

    Although potentially a future world-class talent, the fact that such a young player is B04's best or second-best attacker is as disconcerting in the present as it is exciting about the possibilities he may bring.

    Leverkusen's saving grace has been Stefan Kiessling. Although he struggled in the Champions League, the 30-year-old has scored consistently in the Bundesliga and is one of the league's most prolific strikers. The likes of Mainz, Stuttgart and so on certainly do not have a striker on his level, and that makes the difference.

7) Hamburg

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    Angelika Warmuth

    Once a great power of the Bundesliga, Hamburg are teetering on the verge of relegation. In terms of attack, though, they're comfortably in the upper half of the table.

    HSV have scored 47 goals this season in the Bundesliga, an average of just over 1.5 per game. And they have some considerable talents in their squad, most notably established superstar Rafael van der Vaart and rising talent Hakan Calhanoglu, the latter of whom has brilliantly adapted to first-division football and seems to get better with each passing week.

    Up front, Hamburg have in Pierre-Michel Lasogga one of the Bundesliga's most prolific strikers per minute played, a lethal poacher who could soon be one of the top stars of the German top flight.

    What Hamburg lack is depth, and injuries have greatly harmed the club's ability to score. Lasogga has missed nearly half the season with various problems and Van der Vaart also has had his share of injuries.

    With their best XI available more regularly, HSV would no doubt have a better scoring record. It might not be enough to keep them out of the relegation zone, though, considering their woeful defense.

6) Borussia Monchengladbach

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    Caroline Seidel

    Borussia Monchengladbach are currently ranked sixth in the Bundesliga table, sixth in terms of goals scored and sixth in terms of the quality of their attack.

    There isn't much depth, but what Gladbach have in terms of attacking arsenal in their starting lineup is formidable.

    Raffael and Max Kruse have forged a brilliant partnership in attack. The dual "false" strikers have combined for 26 goals and 16 assists. Their movement and telepathic understanding makes up for their lack of size and strength, and again and again, they have proven themselves as a deadly strike partnership.

    Flanking Kruse and Raffael are Patrick Herrmann and Juan Arango, each of whom adds a unique quality. Herrmann is the engine that provides energy and pace and can interchange with the forwards. Arango is older and lacks pace but has the best left foot in the Bundesliga. His set piece delivery is absolutely lethal and his crossing remains reliable as ever.

    A lack of quality substitutes hurts Gladbach's ranking, but Lucien Favre can be proud of the attack he's created on a tight budget. And with Andre Hahn and Ibrahima Traore joining BMG next season, they can only get better.

5) Wolfsburg

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    Martin Meissner

    Wolfsburg started the season with a good but modest attack but since have taken the step to elite status among Bundesliga teams.

    At season's start, there was competition between Bas Dost and the aging Ivica Olic in attack. The hit-or-miss Diego was the danger man as playmaker, joined in attacking midfield by youngster Maximilian Arnold and Vieirinha.

    Much has changed since August.

    The 34-year-old Olic has experienced a personal renaissance of form as he's scored 13 Bundesliga goals. In January, Diego was replaced by €22 million man Kevin de Bruyne. A torn ACL sidelined Vieirinha until recently, allowing Ivan Perisic a chance to prove himself. And as of late, the Croat has convinced, scoring three goals in the last two games and four in the last five.

    De Bruyne and Arnold still have plenty of room to develop, as do left-back Ricardo Rodriguez and holding midfielder Junior Malanda, who have been key auxiliary attackers for VfL this season.

    Wolfsburg have some soft spots that could use patching up, but with a successful summer transfer window, the 2009 champions could be a top Bundesliga side once more. As of now, their attack does look formidable indeed.

4) Hoffenheim

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    Ronald Wittek

    At the beginning of the season, few would have predicted that Hoffenheim would be one of the Bundesliga's best attacking teams, but their record of 67 goals in 31 games is bettered only by Dortmund and Bayern.

    Much of the credit for Hoffenheim's outstanding record can be attributed to their two-man show of Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland.

    The Brazilian has scored 14 goals and assisted 12 more. The sum of 26 goals to which he has directly contributed is second only to Marco Reus. For his part, Volland has chipped in 10 goals and assisted nine more.

    The other big contributor to the Hoffe attack is Sejad Salihovic, who, despite playing a muted role from free play, has scored 11 times. The Bosnian's goals have all come from set pieces (three free-kicks and eight converted penalties), and his ability in such situations adds a different dimension to the Hoffe attack.

    Outside Firmino, Volland and Salihovic, there is little to speak of in the Hoffenheim attack. But the trio certainly is prolific, and that has helped the village side cover a rather dismal defensive record.

3) Schalke

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    Martin Meissner

    Schalke may have the Bundesliga's fourth-best record in terms of goals scored this season, but their attack is certainly in the top three in the league.

    Their record has been hindered by lengthy injury-induced absences for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan and Julian Draxler as well as the fact that a dearth of fit holding midfielders has forced Kevin-Prince Boateng to play in a deep role.

    The fact of the matter is that Schalke is home to some of Germany's finest attacking players.

    Huntelaar is a former top scorer of the league and has brilliant support from midfield. Boateng is a proven Champions League-calibre player, as is Farfan. Draxler, though inconsistent in the league, showed his class again and again in the Champions League qualifiers and in the group stage last fall. Despite not having the greatest of seasons, he remains an excellent footballer. And in Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka, S04 have tow of Germany's best rising talents in attacking midfield.

    Although they have scored 11 goals fewer than Hoffenheim overall, Schalke have proven in recent weeks just how formidable their attack truly is.

    They shut out Hoffe by a 4-0 margin in March and have scored 14 goals in their last seven fixtures, a substantial improvement upon the times when they were short of many of their star players.

2) Borussia Dortmund

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    Frank Augstein

    Runners-up on the list of top German attacks is Borussia Dortmund. Despite losing Mario Gotze last summer, BVB remain a top attacking side with superlative players in some positions, if not as much depth as Bayern Munich.

    Dortmund's top two attackers are in a league of their own. Robert Lewandowski is and has been the Bundesliga's best striker for three seasons, finding the net 100 times. His 18 goals in the Bundesliga this season is second to none.

    Marco Reus is the other superstar BVB attacker. The 24-year-old has scored and assisted 22 goals each this season and is a top candidate for German Footballer of the Year. Alongside him are the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jakub Blaszczykowski.

    In Jurgen Klopp's tactical system, Dortmund seem to thrive. Despite maybe lacking the class in all positions of some clubs, when at their best, they are unstoppable.

1) Bayern Munich

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    Kerstin Joensson

    There could only be one team occupying the No. 1 position on this list: Bayern Munich. The Bavarians have scored more goals (84) than any German side, outscoring their closest competitors by 13. And their average of 2.71 goals scored per game ranks in the top handful of all clubs in Europe's top leagues.

    Bayern have enormous quality, both in their first XI and on their bench. Franck Ribery was a 2013 Ballon d'Or candidate and Arjen Robben was unlucky not to be shortlisted for the award alongside his teammate.

    Thomas Muller leads his star-studded club in goals contributed to in all competitions, Mario Gotze is regarded in many circles as the "Talent of the Century" in German football, Toni Kroos is worth £260,000 per week to Manchester United (according to The Guardian) and Thiago is capable of scoring audacious bicycle kicks. And that's not even mentioning striker Mario Mandzukic and backup attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri.

    At Bayern, even the full-backs are good attackers. Philipp Lahm, for example, provided 20 assists last season.

    The Bavarians' class in attack is unparalleled in Germany and perhaps the world; their record speaks for itself.

     

    Follow Clark Whitney on Twitter

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