The Bundesliga is nearly back for the 2020/21 campaign, and you may be wondering which of the 18 clubs to support. So whether you’re leaning more towards Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or a different team entirely, allow bundesliga.com to help you make your decision.
Nickname: Die Arminen (The Armines)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Fabian Klos
What else should you know? Located in the north-east of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Bielefeld is a well known one for its supposed non-existence. Student Achim Held 'went viral' before it was even a thing by posting on Usenet in 1994: "Bielefeld? There's no such thing". The result was a long-running joke that Bielefeld is in fact fictitious.
Jokes aside, the club almost did cease to exist as recently as 2018 but the sale of their Schüco Arena stadium to local businesses saved it from financial ruin. Paired with the appointment of coach Uwe Neauhaus the same year, Bielefeld turned around their fortunes both on and off the pitch, culminating in last year’s Bundesliga 2 triumph. They were last in the German top-flight in 2009 and played their football in the third tier as recently as 2015, while captain Fabian Klos goes into the first Bundesliga campaign of his career having hit a league-high 21 goals last year.
Watch: Welcome back to the Bundesliga, Arminia Bielefeld!
Nickname: Die Fuggerstädter (‘From the town of the Fuggers’)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Florian Niederlechner
What else should you know? A small, historic and picturesque town located approximately 40 miles west of Munich may be an unlikely place for a top-flight club, but hard work and team spirit have kept them in the Bundesliga ever since they earned promotion to the top division at the end of the 2010/11 season.
That record looked precarious at times in their most recent campaign, with Augsburg finishing five points above the relegation zone. But head coach Heiko Herrlich kept them afloat after replacing Martin Schmidt in the hotseat in early March, with striker Florian Niederlechner hitting 13 goals and laying on six assists in 2019/20 – as Augsburg steered clear of the bottom three.
Nickname: Die Werkself (The Factory 11)
Trophy haul: DFB Cup winners (1993), UEFA Cup winners (1988)
Star player: Kai Havertz
What else should you know? Formed by employees at pharmaceutical giant Bayer, the club retains its original ethos as a team of the people, but have added a dash of attacking flair to their armoury in recent years. They suffered heartbreak in the 2001/02 season, when a side spearheaded by Michael Ballack finished as runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Head coach Peter Bosz has fashioned a young team that narrowly missed out on a top-four finish on the last day of last term. They were also beaten by Bayern Munich in the DFB Cup final, and exited the UEFA Europa League at the quarter-final stage. Kai Havertz again proved why he is one of the most gifted young players in world football - the 20-year-old Germany international in inspired form as he ended the season as Leverkusen's top-scorer (12) in the league, while only Kevin Volland (seven) registered more assists than Havertz's six for Leverkusen.
Watch: Havertz's roots
Nickname: Die Roten (The Reds)
Trophy haul: 28 Bundesliga titles
Star player: Robert Lewandowski
What else should you know? Based in the capital of Bavaria in south-east Germany, Bayern are truly a juggernaut of the global game. Their unprecedented domestic and European success in the 1970s laid the foundations for their current obsession with winning, and they usually pick up a trophy or two every season – be it in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup or Champions League.
A 29th Meisterschale - and eighth in succession - was added in 2019/20, and the treble remains possible having secured the DFB Cup and set up a Champions League quarter-final meeting with Barcelona. Their team is packed with international stars of the calibre of Lewandowski, Philippe Coutinho and Serge Gnabry, among others, although this past season also saw a number of youngsters also given a chance to shine, including Alphonso Davies, Joshua Zirkzee and Chris Richards under the superb guidance of Hansi Flick. They’re not averse to mixing pleasure with business, however, and are regular visitors to the city’s annual Oktoberfest.
Watch: All 34 of Lewandowski's Bundesliga goals last season
Nickname: Die Schwarzgelben / BVB (The Black-and-Yellows)
Trophy haul: 5 Bundesliga titles
Star player: Jadon Sancho
What else should you know? Located in Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr region in the west of the country, the whole city lives and breathes its Borussia, meaning Games against fierce local rivals Schalke are win-at-all-costs occasions. Under normal circumstances, the famed Yellow Wall – Europe’s largest all-standing terrace with room for 25,000 fans – is an intimidating presence for the opposition, while the club regularly posts the largest average attendance on the continent with over 80,000 spectators.
Over the last decade or so, Dortmund have been Bayern’s main title rivals, even if they have fallen agonisingly close several times since last lifting the Meisterschale in 2012. They again placed second behind Bayern last year, and coach Lucien Favre has a wealth of attacking might at his disposal to topple the record champions, with Jadon Sancho unplayable at times last season. The England international hit 17 goals and 16 assists, while winter arrival Erling Haaland was nothing short of remarkable in the Rückrunde, scoring 13 goals in his first 15 Bundesliga appearances. Those two will take some stopping next year.
Watch: All of Jadon Sancho's goals and assists in 2019/20
Nickname: Die Fohlen (The Foals)
Trophy haul: 5 Bundesliga titles
Star player: Denis Zakaria
What else should you know? Gladbach earned the moniker of the Foals during their 1970s heyday, when they won all five of their Bundesliga titles and were serious rivals to Bayern thanks to their swashbuckling attacking play, ‘galloping’ forward at every opportunity. They have certainly retained that style since, and were one of the most entertaining teams to watch under head coach Marco Rose last term, beating the likes of Bayern and Leverkusen and even sitting top of the table from Matchdays 7 – 14.
They eventually pipped Leverkusen to fourth spot, clinching a return to the Champions League for the first time in four years. The Foals's rock-solid defence conceded just 40 times all season, a record only bettered by Bayern (32) and RB Leipzig (37). While Rose also boasts the likes of Marcus Thuram, Alassane Plea, Breel Embolo and Lars Stindl up front, Denis Zakaria is arguably the team’s key man. A true box-to-box midfielder, he tackles and intercepts all over the pitch and drives forward too, chipping in with two goals and as many assists in 2019/20.
Nickname: Die Geißböcker (The Billy Goats)
Trophy haul: 2 Bundesliga titles
Star player: Jhon Cordoba
What else should you know? Cologne lifted the inaugural Bundesliga title in the 1963/64 season, but have only won it once since then, back in 1978. They have struggled for consistency somewhat since the turn of the century, having been relegated to and promoted from the second division on five different occasions.
They returned to the top table at the end of 2018/19 as Bundesliga 2 champions, and after a few rocky spells at the start of 2019/20, they became remarkably tough to beat after Markus Gisdol took over as head coach in November 2019. Cologne ended up five points clear of the drop zone but failed to win any of their nine matches after the May restart. Gisdol gave extended first-team runs to youngsters like Noah Katterbach (19), Ismail Jakobs (20) and Jan Thielmann (18), and coaxed the best out of striker Jhon Cordoba, who scored 12 of his 13 league goals after Gisdol’s arrival.
Nickname: Die Adler (The Eagles)
Trophy haul: 5-time DFB Cup winners
Star player: Filip Kostic
What else should you know? Frankfurt were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga back in the 1960s and have since played in the top flight for 51 seasons. Backed by a passionate and noisy fanbase, their Commerzbank-Arena is regularly the stage for spectacular pre-game tifos. The Eagles have enjoyed some success in cup competitions in recent years, reaching the 2017 DFB Cup final before winning it the following year, as well as progressing to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2019.
Most recently, head coach Adi Hütter managed his squad well after the team’s star trio of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic all left in the summer of 2019 - with Eintracht finishing ninth in the league, while reaching the semi-final of the DFB Cup and last-16 of the Europa League. Filip Kostic is their main attacking weapon nowadays, the Serbian’s pace, driving runs, and devilish left boot a headache for any defence, and bringing him four goals and 11 Bundesliga assists last season.
Watch: Frankfurt's resurgence in 2020
Nickname: Die Breisgauer (From the region of Breisgau)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Nils Petersen
What else should you know? Nestled in Germany’s south-westernmost corner in the thick of the Black Forest, the club is a reflection of the city itself: small, welcoming and quirky. Head coach Christian Streich is as charismatic a personality as they come – provided you can understand his thick regional accent; he cycles to work and is happy to give his well thought-out opinions on social and local issues.
Like Cologne, Freiburg have been something of a yo-yo club in recent years, but have been in the top flight since 2016/17, having beaten RB Leipzig to the Bundesliga 2 title the previous year. Streich’s close-knit squad are renowned for never giving up and are a team greater than the sum of their parts. As such there are no real stars, although left-back Christian Günter (two goals, eight assists) and striker Nils Petersen (11 goals, two assists) were both been excellent last term, the latter even becoming Freiburg's all-time top scorer at the start of 2020.
Nickname: Die Alte Dame (The Old Lady)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Krzysztof Piatek
What else should you know? It was a bit of a difficult season for Hertha in 2019/20. Not only did they lose to city rivals Union in the first-ever top-flight Berlin derby in Union’s maiden Bundesliga season, but some inconsistent results mean that Bruno Labbadia became the team’s fourth head coach of the campaign.
Third from bottom at the halfway stage of the season, the club pulled off a number of transfer coups during the winter break when Jürgen Klinsmann was at the helm, with Argentina international Santiago Ascacibar, Brazil U-23 forward Matheus Cunha and Poland forward Krzysztof Piatek all arriving. They eventually finished 10th under Labbadia, and Hertha undoubtedly have a hugely talented squad that should be looking to climb in their first full season under the 54-year-old tactician.
Nickname: Die Kraichgauer (From the region of Kraichgau)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Andrej Kramaric
What else should you know? Although the club was officially formed in 1899, it was not until the turn of the 21st century that they really started making waves in Germany’s football scene. Local-boy-done-good Dietmar Hopp provided his backing and with Ralf Rangnick steering the ship they swiftly rose through the divisions until reaching the promised land of the Bundesliga in 2008/09.
Although they have flirted with relegation a couple of times since then, they have generally been well-established members of the top flight. Hoffenheim qualified for the Champions League for the first time ever under former coach Julian Nagelsmann, and they secured European qualification under his successor Alfred Schreuder by finishing sixth last year. He masterminded victories over Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen and while leading striker Andrej Kramaric suffered from injury in 2019/20, he still scored 12 times.
Nickname: Die Nullfünfer / Karnevalsverein (The 05ers / The Carnival Club)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Robin Quaison
What else should you know? Football and Carnival celebrations are probably just about even in terms of their popularity in Mainz, the two activities equally important to local culture. Cologne is really only the other place that goes all in at Carnival time to the same extent – costumes galore, special commemorative kits and beverages aplenty.
Uninterrupted members of the Bundesliga since 2009/10, Mainz’s Opel Arena is where both Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel cut their teeth in the coaching dugout. They struggled to consistently hit their best form last time out, however, and finished up in 13th place. Nevertheless, Robin Quaison had a quietly prolific season for the 05ers, his 13 goals and two assists almost single-handedly keeping the team afloat.
Nickname: Die Roten Bullen (The Red Bulls)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Dayot Upamecano
What else should you know? Founded as recently in 2009, Leipzig’s history is almost a super-charged version of Hoffenheim’s: they sprinted up through the divisions in successive years and even finished as Bundesliga runners-up in their debut campaign back in 2016-17.
Hugely ambitious and with their sights firmly set on dislodging Bayern sooner rather than later, the arrival of Nagelsmann as head coach at the start of last season was a huge boost for the club. They play exciting, entertaining and fast-paced football, and although 28-goal top scorer Timo Werner has left for pastures new, they still have plenty of firepower in the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Emil Forsberg, Dani Olmo and Yussuf Poulsen, as well as new signing Hwang Hee-chan. The league's second-best defence last season also boasts one of the Bundesliga's - and Europe's - best young defenders in Upamecano.
Watch: Dayot Upamecano's Bundesliga mixtape
Nickname: Die Königsblauen / Die Knappen (The Royal Blues / The Miners)
Trophy haul: 5-time DFB Cup winners
Star player: Suat Serdar
What else should you know? Founded by workers in the local coal mines, hard graft is interwoven in the club’s DNA; losing is tolerated as long as fans see the players give their absolute all out on the pitch. The derby rivalry with neighbours Dortmund is one of the fiercest in world football – hence Schalke celebrating as if they had won after rescuing a last-gasp 4-4 draw after being 4-0 down in 2017/18.
Injuries to key players including Salif Sane, Benjamin Stambouli and Benito Raman interrupted the team’s ambitions last term, as David Wagner’s side slid from an early title challenge to 12th by the end of the season. They eventually went 16-games without victory at the back end of the campaign (D6, L10) and goals proved hard to come by in 2019/20, with only the relegated bottom two sides having scored fewer than their haul of 38. Top-scorer Suat Serdar (seven) did, however, impress enough in midfield that Joachim Löw made him a full Germany international in October 2019.
Watch: How David Wagner revolutionised Schalke
Nickname: Die Eisernen (The Iron Ones)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Christopher Trimmel
What else should you know? After earning promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time at the end of 2018/19, Union became the 56th and newest top-flight outfit. They are very much a cult club, with fans donating blood to help raise enough money to pay for their license in 2004. This season supporters even paid the price of a ticket to have life-size pictures of deceased loved ones who had hoped to one day see their side in the top flight, but had passed away before getting the chance to do so. Their faces counted in the official match attendance, meaning an extra 455 people ‘saw’ their Matchday 1 defeat to Leipzig.
Urs Fischer’s men were brilliant in their Bundesliga debut, finishing 11th and comfortably avoiding relegation, while beating both Dortmund and Gladbach along the way. They may have a team with big, physical players such as Christian Genter, Neven Subotic and Sebastian Andersson, but Union can play a bit too, and captain Christopher Trimmel was an unlikely attacking weapon, registering eight assists and providing a constant menace with his delivery from set pieces.
Nickname: Die Schwaben (The Swabians)
Trophy haul: 3 Bundesliga titles
Star player: Nicolas Gonzalez
What else should you know? Stuttgart the city’s history began just yards away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena, in Bad Cannstatt, the home of a Roman citadel from around 85/90 AD. Now the capital of Baden-Württemberg, industry has taken over in Stuttgart, the home to car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, two of Germany’s most famous vehicle exports. Stuttgart the football club, meanwhile, dates back to 1893.
A founding member of the Bundesliga in 1963, Stuttgart twice won the German national championship before lifting another three Bundesliga titles (1984, 1992, 2007) and are back in the top tier after just a season’s absence. American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo made sure Stuttgart immediately bounced back to the top-flight and Gonzalez particularly thrived under the New Jersey native, scoring 14 goals last term. They’ve wasted no time strengthening the side, with Dinos Mavropanos loaned from Arsenal, highly rated youngster Mohamed Sankoh signed from Stoke City and Waldemar Anton joining from Hannover.
Watch: Welcome back to the Bundesliga, VfB Stuttgart!
Nickname: Die Werderaner (The River Islanders)
Trophy haul: 4 Bundesliga titles, 6-time DFB Cup winners
Star player: Milot Rashica
What else should you know? As hard as it may to believe with Bremen escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, Werder have a rich and successful history. They have won the Bundesliga four times, most recently when they did the double in 2004. A founding member of the league in 1963, they have played more Bundesliga matches than any other club.
Coach Florian Kohfeldt’s side were pushing for European qualification the year before, but found the going much tougher last time around and were on the brink of just a second Bundesliga relegation in their history after clawing their way into the relegation playoff place of 16th by Matchday 38's final whistle. An away-goals victory over Heidenheim in the playoff secured their Bundesliga status and Bremen will be looking to Milot Rashica to spearhead a rejuvenated effort next year, alongside Josh Sargent after the legendary Claudio Pizarro hanging up his boots.
Nickname: Die Wölfe (The Wolves)
Trophy haul: 2009 Bundesliga winners, 2015 DFB Cup winners
Star player: Wout Weghorst
What else should you know? A fixture in the Bundesliga for over 20 years now, Wolfsburg have close ties with car manufacturer Volkswagen, whose base in the city. The 2009 league champions had a couple of worrying brushes with relegation in recent years, but were an entirely different proposition under head coach Oliver Glasner last season.
Boasting one of the meanest defences around, the Wolves secured qualification for European competition once again this term by sealing seventh-place. They will once again look to towering Dutch striker Wout Weghorst to fire them across three fronts in 2020/21: his 16 goals and three assists make him the undisputed focal point of the Wolfsburg attack.
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