DUESSELDORF, GERMANY - MARCH 11: Fans of Fortuna Duesseldorf cheer during the Bundesliga match between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Eintracht Frankfurt at Merkur Spiel-Arena on March 11, 2019 in Duesseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

In this Fortuna Düsseldorf season review, we will be taking a closer look at Die Flingeraner. Suffering a poor start to the season, Fortuna looked doomed as they approached the new year. In need of a Rückrunde miracle, it’s time to take an in-depth look at how the clubs season panned out.

Fortuna Düsseldorf Season Review: The Rückrunde Miracle

Rock Bottom

Fortuna’s start to the season had its positives. Picking up one win and two draws in their first four games, the team found themselves in ninth. However, the team’s positive start took a nosedive. The club’s Bundesliga future was in doubt. Winning just two of their opening 14 games, Friedhelm Funkel and his team had a mountain to climb. Dropping from ninth all the way down to 18th place in the league, Funkel was in a tricky situation. With his team struggling defensively, Fortuna would spend five weeks of the season bottom of the table. This Fortuna team could carry a few positives into the second half of the season. Drawing 3-3 with Bayern Munich at the Allianz, Funkel’s team were scoring goals. This made them competitive again, as the club approached the Rückrunde. The team would pick up wins against Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund and Hannover to end the Hinrunde.

A Rückrunde Miracle

Three wins on the bounce before the winter break gave Fortuna hope. They were now in a position to fight relegation, despite the team looking doomed during the early stages of the season. Carrying some momentum into the second half of the season, the team still needed to deliver when it mattered most. Securing wins against Stuttgart, Nürnberg and Schalke by early March, Fortuna soared up the table. As the recovery continued, the now 11th place Fortuna knew a strong finish would see them secure Bundesliga football for next season. Approaching the final ten games of the season, Fortuna found themselves in an unlikely situation.

Bottom of the table on matchday 14, the club now had ten games to consolidate a mid-table finish. A fantastic achievement by Funkel and his team, Fortuna remained consistent as the season reached its conclusion. Heading into Matchday 34, the team is now 22 points ahead of 18th place Nürnberg. The progress Fortuna has made is evident, as a once doomed team prepares for yet another season in the Bundesliga.

Player of the Season

The club’s player of the season award will be shared between two players who have been crucial to the clubs survival. On loan from Premier League club Watford, Dodi Lukebakio has been Fortuna’s primary threat going forward. Scoring ten league goals this season, the Belgian forward has made a big impact. Playing three different roles for the club, Lukebakio has started games on both wings and up front. Contributing four assists, the 21-year-olds biggest moment came on the biggest stage of all. In Fortuna’s 3-3 draw with reigning champions Bayern Munich, Lukebakio scored a hat-trick, securing a vital point for a struggling team. The promising Belgian finished 2018 on a high note, he was named Bundesliga Rookie of the Month in December.

Sharing the award with Lukebakio is fellow Belgian Benito Raman. Joining the club last summer for just £1.35 million, the former Gent youth player has been key to the clubs mid-table finish. Scoring ten league goals and contributing three assists, the 24-year-old was equally as impressive as Lukebakio. A versatile player, Raman has started games at four different positions this season. Two crucial players, Fortuna will be tasked with replacing their production next season. Lukebakio will return to Watford and Raman has been linked with a move away. This has been a great season for Düsseldorf. However, recreating such success will be even harder next time around.

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