Japan international Masaya Okugawa is doing everything he can to make sure Arminia Bielefeld stay in the Bundesliga for another year. - © DFL/Getty Images/Reinaldo Coddou H.
Japan international Masaya Okugawa is doing everything he can to make sure Arminia Bielefeld stay in the Bundesliga for another year. - © DFL/Getty Images/Reinaldo Coddou H.
bundesliga

Arminia Bielefeld: the 2021/22 season so far

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Masaya Okugawa's five goals have kept battling Arminia Bielefeld within touching distance of Bundesliga safety for 2022.

bundesliga.com reviews Bielefeld's mixed fortunes in the first half of the 2021/22 campaign...

The story so far

Bielefeld can take a lot of positives from this challenging Bundesliga season. The club have the best aerial stats in the league and are also top for distance covered in a game. They went unbeaten in their first three matches too - albeit only getting three draws for those efforts. But Frank Kramer's side had to wait until Matchday 11 at VfB Stuttgart to pick up their first victory of the season. Wins continued to be difficult to find, with the team seemingly cut adrift in the relegation zone. But 2021 ended on a high for Bielefeld, with a first home win of the season against Bochum being swiftly followed by an exceptional 2-0 triumph with 10 men away at RB Leipzig. With these two crucial results and the addition of Bundesliga veteran Gonzalo Castro to the midfield for the second half of the campaign, the club are firmly back in contention to compete for survival. They entered the winter break only two points away from automatic safety.

Key player

Okugawa has scored in all three of Bielefeld's league victories this season. The 25-year-old Japanese midfielder is the club's top scorer with five goals to his name, and he has continued to grow in confidence as his team closed out the year in style. His movement and versatility in and around the box have proven tricky for Bundesliga defenders - captured expertly with his goal against RB Leipzig on Matchday 17.

Masaya Okugawa has been key for Bielefeld since joining from Salzburg in January 2021. - /

Best game so far

Janni Serra finally got off the mark for his new club after three impressive seasons in Bundesliga 2 for Holstein Kiel. His goal put Bielefeld 1-0 up in Leipzig before the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the second half. A struggle was then to be expected in the closing stages but up stepped Okugawa to double Bielefeld's advantage and secure a deserved three points. It represented an immense coup for the Bielefeld defence and second-choice keeper Stefanos Kapino to keep a clean sheet against the team that finished as Bundesliga runners-up last season.

Watch: See how Bielefeld toppled Leipzig

One to watch

Patrick Wimmer announced himself to the Bundesliga on Matchday 3 with a sublime hit on 85 minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt - rescuing a draw for his team in the process. His assist and goal against Bochum were integral to only the club's second win of the season. Bielefeld will need the young Austrian to create further opportunities for goals in 2022, with the team looking to battle their way out of the relegation zone as soon as possible.

The view from inside the camp

"What other clubs can buy in quality, we have to make up for with a lot of effort." – Bielefeld head coach Frank Kramer.

Key fixtures

Greuther Fürth (h) - Matchday 19

Augsburg (h) - Matchday 21

VfB Stuttgart (h) - Matchday 28

Key home fixtures against three fellow strugglers await in the second half of the season. Wins against Augsburg, Fürth and Stuttgart would go a long way to securing safety for Bielefled.

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