The Hamburg derby - just one of Bundesliga 2's crown jewels - © Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga
The Hamburg derby - just one of Bundesliga 2's crown jewels - © Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga
2. Bundesliga

Five reasons Bundesliga 2 is one of Europe's best leagues


Big names, goals galore and surprise packages leading the way - the Bundesliga 2 continues to delight week-in, week-out. Here, details why Germany’s second tier is one of the best leagues across the whole of Europe.

1) Incredible fans

Football is nothing without its supporters. Fortunately, there are enough to go around in Bundesliga 2, which is one of the best-attended leagues across Europe. Only the Bundesliga, England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga and the Italian Serie A have averaged more than its 28,212 people per game – a new record for the division - making it the fifth-most watched league across the continent, at least in terms of a live audience.

Schalke regularly fill their 62,273-capacity Veltins-Arena. - Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga

Incredibly, Schalke's average attendance ranks 11th amongst all clubs in Europe so far this season, while Hamburg feature in the top 25. Those are just two of the seven sides in Bundesliga 2 attracting more than 35,000 per league match, which really does take some doing. German football fans, even outside the elite, are not scared of sharing their love and support for their teams, which only adds to the fantastic spectacle.

2) Big names

Usually, those in the second division fight for promotion and the chance to play against Germany’s biggest clubs. However, there is already a selection of heavyweights plying their trade in Bundesliga 2. Only three German sides have ever won the European Cup, one of which is Hamburg. HSV are now in their sixth season in the division and, while they have come close to getting themselves out of it on several occasions, they have learned the hard way that it is easier said than done.

Watch: Hamburg vs. St. Pauli, worlds apart in Germany's second city derby

Die Rothosen are joined by five-time DFB Cup winners Schalke, as well as Hertha Berlin, the largest team from the German capital. Nürnberg and Kaiserslautern are also previous Bundesliga champions, while Hannover have enjoyed an extended spell in the top flight in recent years. Wherever you look in the Bundesliga 2, there are big hitters looking to return to their glory years.

3) Plenty of competition

Although those sides have eyes on the table's summit, a pair of clubs who are comparatively small in stature currently occupy the top two spots. League-leaders Holstein Kiel have never played in the Bundesliga - they have only featured at this level since 2017 - while second-placed St. Pauli have only spent eight seasons in the country's highest tier and just two since the turn of the century.

Fiete Arp (c.), once of Bayern Munich and a Germany youth star, has re-found his feet at Holstein Kiel. - IMAGO/KBS-Picture Kalle Meincke

Besides Pauli, who are still unbeaten this term, anyone can beat anyone - every other side have suffered at least four defeats after the opening 17 matchdays. Even Die Kiezkicker have won only nine of their matches thus far, drawing the other eight. Kiel may be top of the table at the moment, but plenty of teams will be confident they can reel them in, as only eight points separate first and sixth, with 10th-placed Nürnberg just three points further back. Who will ultimately earn their place in the promised land remains up in the air.

4) Goals galore

Let's be honest - as football lovers, we want to see the ball hit the back of the net as often as possible. Again, Bundesliga 2 has you covered. Up until the end of Matchday 17, there were 488 goals, a tally that has not bettered at the halfway point of a season since the league dropped down to 18 teams from the 1993/94 campaign. Of those, 215 have fallen to the away side, too, which is also a record over the same period.

Watch: The Top 5 Goals from Matchday 17

There has been an average of 3.2 goals per game - the most since 2001/02, and more than all of Europe's top five leagues bar Germany's own top flight. Also, substitutes have accounted for 72 of this season's goals, which is another post-1993 high. Fans are being treated to goal-fests on a regular basis, so don't say you haven't been warned!

5) Future Bundesliga talent

Bundesliga 2 is also a breeding ground that top-tier sides have previously taken full advantage of. Germany international Josha Vagnoman started out at Hamburg before becoming a regular for high-flying Stuttgart, while Werder Bremen talisman Marvin Ducksch was prolific for Kiel, Hannover and Bremen before making the step up.

"Bundesliga 2 you say?" - Marvin Ducksch (r.) is one of a number of former second tier players to have earned full international honours. - IMAGO/Michael Taeger

Fellow Germany caps Chris Führich, David Raum and Anton Stach are others who initially flourished in Bundesliga 2, and Jan-Niklas Beste has five goals and seven assists for Heidenheim in his maiden Bundesliga campaign after topping the assists charts a division blow in 2022/23. This time around, Bayern Munich loanee Paul Wanner is making waves at Elversberg, as is Fabian Reese at Hertha, and Fiete Arp is beginning to live up to his huge potential in Kiel. It is surely only a matter of time before the latest Bundesliga 2 ace bridges the gap.