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Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen, Serhou Guirassy and Leroy Sané have all hit the ground running in the Bundesliga this season. - © DFL/imago
Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen, Serhou Guirassy and Leroy Sané have all hit the ground running in the Bundesliga this season. - © DFL/imago

Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen, Serhou Guirassy & Leroy Sané among the 5 biggest surprises of the season so far


So much has happened over the first seven matchdays of the Bundesliga season that few fans would have dared to predict at the start of the campaign. bundesliga.com looks at the five most eyebrow-raising stories of an incredible season so far...

Leverkusen lightning 

There was plenty of interest over the summer in how much momentum Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen could take from their great end to the previous campaign. A 14-match unbeaten run in the spring had seen them into the UEFA Europa League semi-finals and carried them up to sixth in the Bundesliga. Few could have possibly foreseen that everything would click into place so seamlessly for Die Werkself to rise to the top of the table with nine wins out of 10 in all competitions going into the October international break.  

In looking where everything has gone right for Leverkusen, you have to start with the coach himself. Alonso has got his side passing the ball around with ease and dominating opponents with spectacular success. Leverkusen only failed to net less than three goals in one of their first eight matches of the season - and that was a highly respectable 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich.

Watch: The story of Xabi Alonso

While Leverkusen's summer signings looked promising, they have surpassed almost all expectations. Victor Boniface has settled into the Bundesliga like wildfire, looking the complete centre-forward at times as he smashed seven goals in his opening seven Bundesliga appearances. Granit Xhaka has used his experience and class to pull the strings of a mean midfield, while Alejandro Grimaldo has been a revelation at left-back - most noticeably for his ability to thump in stunning free-kicks.

With Bayern and RB Leipzig in the long list of opponents unable to beat Leverkusen in the opening months of the campaign, the secret is well and truly out the bag now. Their surprisingly good start has been spectacular enough for Leverkusen fans to start thinking a surprise of another level might just be possible - potentially knocking Bayern Munich off their perch and becoming Bundesliga champions

Watch: Victor Boniface in blistering Bundesliga form

Serhou Guirassy and Stuttgart soaring

The opening matchdays of the Bundesliga season always looked likely to be fascinating with so many of the clubs that contended for the title and European qualification last time around bringing in promising new signings. It is safe to say virtually nobody would have counted on VfB Stuttgart being among the leading bunch going into the end of October over the summer - especially not at the dizzy heights of second in the table. 

Stuttgart only managed to secure their spot in the Bundesliga with the final lifeline of a promotion/relegation play-off victory over Hamburg last season. To say they have flown out of the traps this time would be an understatement. Two 5-0 wins in the opening three matchdays - over Bochum and regional rivals Freiburg - well and truly set the swashbuckling tone, which has taken them to a sensational six wins and 22 goals in their opening seven matches. 

Watch: Guirassy's spectacular Matchday 7 hat-trick

The fortunes of one player in particular sums up Stuttgart's resurgence. The sudden insatiable scoring burst of Serhou Guirassy - who fired in two hat-tricks on the way to a historic haul of 13 goals in the first seven games, which smashed Robert Lewandowski's previous Bundesliga best goals haul at this stage of a season.  

As fine as Guirassy's scoring exploits have been, he couldn't do it without a top-rate supporting cast. Chris Führich and Enzo Millot's work in supplying Guirassy in Stuttgart's swift and incisive attacks have earned the trio the moniker of a new Magic Triangle - with Führich earning his first call-up into the Germany national squad in October as a result. It would be wrong to only single out the Swabians' attacking prowess though with the solid defence anchored by on-loan goalkeeper Alexander Nübel keeping three clean sheets in the opening seven encounters. 

It remains to be seen just how long Stuttgart can continue their stunning form - but one thing for certain is that their unexpectedly explosive start has already given their fans some truly magic moments.

Watch: VfB's new magic triangle 

Unheralded stars 

While so much of the attention at the start of the season was understandably directed towards Harry Kane as the highest-profile addition to the Bundesliga, one surprising trend has been the significant contributions made by so many hungry yet less well-known talents.

Nobody has exemplified that better than Guirassy, of course, but Wolfsburg's Jonas Wind has also defied expectations with seven goals in his opening seven matches - almost keeping pace with Kane's blistering start at Bayern and giving the Dane his highest-ever Bundesliga season-scoring tally by the end of September. 

Even within the more familiar clubs, less expected sources of inspiration have often shone. Julian Ryerson has been a fan favourite at Borussia Dortmund since his arrival in January for his never-say-die attitude, but few could have quite imagined how crucial he would become for the runners-up - or that he would be capable of his stunning solo goal against Hoffenheim when he conjured up near superhuman energy to chase down almost the entire length at the pitch and slot home in the final minutes.

Watch: Julian Ryerson wondergoal as Dortmund beat Hoffenheim 3-1

It was uncertain how much of an impact young Mathys Tel would have at Bayern after Kane's arrival, but the three goals the Frenchman has scored off the bench in his five first substitute appearances have made for a surprisingly large contribution to the title defence so far. 

Maximilian Beier at Hoffenheim is another promising youngster who has developed into the kind of force nobody really saw coming so soon - with five goals in the opening seven matches. It is not just youngsters who have stepped unexpectedly into the limelight, either, with Union Berlin's 32-year-old forward Kevin Behrens netting a remarkable hat-trick of headers in an opening-day win over Mainz in a super start to the season that saw him called into the Germany national squad for the first time in October.

Watch: Mathys Tel among the rising stars of 2023/24

Marco Reus with the handbrake off  

Of course, Dortmund’s talismanic attacker would never thing of referring to the captaincy at the Black-and-Yellows as a burden. Reus revelled in his role as BVB skipper for years but when he offered up the armband at the start of the current campaign, many onlookers felt that the blonde skill-master’s best days might be behind him.

Yet instead of retiring to the bench to play a bit-part role this season, Reus has grown footballing wings and come to the fore like never before. Borussia’s No. 11 has scored three times and provided one assist in his five Bundesliga appearances to date. Against Wolfsburg in late September, Reus’s matchwinner represented the 62nd time he had broken the deadlock in a game. His goals this season have helped to bump him up to third on BVB’s all-time Bundesliga goalscoring list behind Manfred Burgsmüller and Michael Zorc.

Watch: Marco Reus: Borussia Dortmund's deadlock breaker

Without playing at their free-flowing best for large parts this season, Dortmund have nonetheless managed to stay in touch with the Bundesliga leaders and they remain unbeaten in the German top flight this term. Far from being a peripheral figure, Reus has started four of the five Bundesliga games he has played and although Emre Can may now be club captain, a certain 34-year-old remains as important to Die Schwarzgelben’s cause as ever.

Sensational Sané sharing spotlight with Kane

What a difference a year makes. At times last season, Leroy Sané cut a frustrated figure as the Germany international failed to scale the heights of which he is clearly capable. With 20 starts in 32 Bundesliga games and a return of eight goals in 2022/23, the mood just felt a little off with the former Manchester City attacker, his talents not quite coming to the fore.

Watch: Leroy Sané in the form of his life 

Whether it was the arrival of Thomas Tuchel as head coach at the tail-end of last season or the signing of world-renowned striker Harry Kane in August - or both of those things – Leroy Sané is a while different prospect this term. Hie movement and pace have ripped opposing defences apart while his expert finishing has been a sight to behold. The 27-year-old is playing some of the best football of his life and he is posting the numbers to prove it.  

With six Bundesliga goals already this season, Sané is just two away from equalling his best top-flight haul for an entire campaign with Bayern. He has also hit the woodwork twice and against Freiburg on Matchday 7, scored what will surely become one of the most-watched disallowed goals ever, Sané straying a millimetre offside before netting a thing of beauty. 

Give this man a hand! Alphonso Davies (r.) congratulates teammate Sané - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

His 461 intensive runs and top speed of almost 22 mph are emblematic of Sané’s determination and if few would have predicted this showing from Bayern’s No.10 prior to the season starting, the player himself has clearly enjoyed proving his doubters wrong.