The higher the hopes, the more devastating the disappointment, DW-WORLD looks at the 11 biggest let-downs of the season. More than half of the league’s teams have serious holes to fill.
Cottbus have the league's worst offense -- Gladbach its poorest defense
Defense may win games, but occasionally you also have to score a few goals -- something that apparently has gone lost on Cottbus ' strike farce. With only 12 goals in 17 games, the drought up front is clearly a team effort -- so take your pick between Jelic, Angelov and Rangelov.
With zero goals and zero assists, Edmond Kapplani would do well at Cottbus. Unfortunately for Karlruhe, the Albanian not only plays for, but regularly starts for them and has proved a total waste of space. Look for the Southern-German side to acquire a replacement -- or face relegation.
Question: Who did Hamburg sign to take over for departed playmaker Rafael van der Vaart? Answer: Thiago Neves. Never heard of him? That's because the 6.5-million-euro Brazilian has failed to crack the starting line-up, playing in only six league matches and disappointing in every one.
Things have been looking down, down, down for Neves in Hamburg
At this summer's Euro 2008, Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger spoke openly about inheriting Michael Ballack's place in the German national team. Maybe all the talking tired him out. Der Hammer's lone goal came on the first day of the season, and he's been pretty much invisible every since.
Dutchman Orlando Engelaar also attracted notice at Euro 2008, prompting Schalke to shell out 6 million euros. They're still waiting for the first goal from the giant midfielder, who seems too slow and clumsy for the Bundesliga. He was easily the worst player on the pitch in the Blues' match against Hoffenheim -- taking mercy on football fans, he duly got himself sent off.
At the start of the season, Bochum celebrated the return of prodigal son and former German national Paul Freier. Now they probably wished he'd stayed away. Freier leads the league in yellow cards, but that's the only superlative to his name. The once fine midfielder looks over the hill and unlikely to help Bochum in their relegation fight.
Hoffenheim put five goals past Hanover
Werder Bremen have had a horrific season by their standards. Their troubles started when normally reliable defender Per Mertesacker got himself foolishly sent off in the sixth round. At the half-way mark, Bremen has been plagued by defensive lapses and lack of discipline -- Mertesacker shares the blame.
Moenchengladbach's revolving-door back four has been the league's most porous, conceding an appalling 35 goals. The one constant in this tale of misery has been Patrick Paauwe. He may be the best of the worst, but he's still earned his spot in DW's hall of shame.
Hanover came into this season hoping to challenge for the top five. But half-way through the campaign and 32 conceded goals later, the team is going to have its hands full just keeping their distance from the relegation fight. Veterans Frank Fahrenhorst and Steven Cherundolo need to step up, if Hanover are to stay up.
Rensing's inexperience has cost Bayern some crucial points
Only one man has ever successfully replaced Oliver Kahn so we don't want to be too hard on Bayern's Michael Rensing. Still, as Bayern's final game against Stuttgart showed, Rensing has been rather feeble dealing with high balls into the area. Rensing is quite good on his line, but it's hard not to think that the champions would top the league right now, if they had Jens Lehmann minding the posts.