The Bundesliga is back following the enforced coronavirus hiatus, but you may still 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 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 has looked precarious at times in the current campaign, with Augsburg just five points above the relegation zone going into Matchday 26. Head coach Heiko Herrlich is yet to take charge of a competitive game since replacing Martin Schmidt in the hotseat in early March, but will be looking to striker Florian Niederlechner to continue his fine form – the 29-year-old has 11 goals and six assists in 2019/20 – to stay 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.
Now regular participants in the latter, head coach Peter Bosz has fashioned a young team with sights on a top-four finish this term. They have already beaten Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke in 2019/20 and in Kai Havertz have one of the most gifted young players in world football. Still just 20 but already a full Germany international, the attacking midfielder was in inspired form prior to the suspension of play, with four goals and four assists in 2020, helping Leverkusen earn 19 of a possible 24 points since the turn of the year.
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 UEFA Champions League.
Top of the table as the action resumes, their team is packed with international stars of the calibre of Lewandowski, Philippe Coutinho and Serge Gnabry, among others, although this season a number of youngsters have also been given a chance to shine, including Alphonso Davies, Joshua Zirkzee and Sarpreet Singh. They’re not averse to mixing pleasure with business, however, and are regular visitors to the city’s annual Oktoberfest.
Watch: All 25 of Lewandowski's Bundesliga goals this 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. Games against fierce local rivals Schalke are win-at-all-costs occasions – such as the upcoming clash on Matchday 26. 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 remain in the running now, just four points behind Bayern, and coach Lucien Favre has a wealth of attacking might at his disposal, with Jadon Sancho in particular looking unstoppable this season alongside the likes of Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Achraf Hakimi. The England international has 14 goals and 15 assists, while winter arrival Erling Haaland has been banging in the goals too (nine), offering both guile and a physical presence up front.
Watch: A tactical analysis of Dortmund's deadly attack
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 have been a formidable unit under head coach Marco Rose this term, beating the likes of Bayern and Leverkusen and even sitting top of the table from Matchdays 7 – 14.
Now six points adrift of Bayern in fourth spot, the Foals are still widely considered legitimate title candidates thanks in large part to a rock-solid defence that has conceded just 30 times all season. And while Rose can boast 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 so far 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 last season as Bundesliga 2 champions, and after a few rocky spells they have become remarkably tough to beat since Markus Gisdol took over as head coach in November 2019. Cologne have won eight of their 14 games under him to sit 10 points clear of the drop zone in mid-table. Gisdol has also given extended first-team runs to youngsters like Noah Katterbach (19), Ismail Jakobs (20) and Jan Thielmann (17), while coaxing the best out of striker Jhon Cordoba, who has scored nine of his 10 league goals this term since 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.
This season, head coach Adi Hütter has managed his squad well after the team’s star trio of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic all left last summer, with Eintracht currently still involved in three competitions. 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 eight Bundesliga assists this season.
Watch: Frankfurt's resurgence in 2020
Nickname: Die Flingeraner (From the town of Flingen)
Trophy haul: 2-time DFB Cup winners
Star player: Rouwen Hennings
What else should you know? Promoted as Bundesliga 2 champions at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Fortuna have suffered a touch of second-season syndrome this time around. Veteran coach Friedhelm Funkel was dismissed in January this year and replaced by Uwe Rösler, who has helped the side pick up some valuable points, even if they remain in the relegation play-off spot in 16th, four points adrift of outright safety.
Their cause has been hampered by two separate knee injuries to on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who has not played since last year. The fact they are just about managing to avoid getting cut off at the wrong end of the table is in large part down to striker Rouwen Hennings, whose 11 league goals this season put him fifth in the top scorers’ chart.
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, five assists) and striker Nils Petersen (eight goals, two assists) have both been excellent this term, the latter even becoming Freiburg's all-time top scorer earlier this year.
Nickname: Die Alte Dame (The Old Lady)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Krzysztof Piatek
What else should you know? It’s been a bit of a difficult season for Hertha. 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 recently appointed Bruno Labbadia is the team’s fourth head coach in 2019/20.
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. Yet to play a game under Labbadia, Hertha undoubtedly have a hugely talented squad that should be able to climb up from their current position of 13th.
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 are in the running for European qualification this season too under his successor Alfred Schreuder. He has masterminded victories over Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen this term and while leading striker Andrej Kramaric has suffered with injury in 2019/20, he still has seven goals and two assists to his name so far.
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’ve struggled to hit their best form this season, however, and are currently in 15th place, only four points above the relegation spots. Nevertheless, Robin Quaison is having a quietly prolific season for the 05ers, his 12 goals and two assists almost single-handedly keeping the team afloat.
Nickname: Graue Maus (Grey Mouse)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Streli Mamba
What else should you know? Paderborn are currently in their second season in the top flight; their first is best remembered for Moritz Stoppelkamp scoring the longest-range goal in Bundesliga history, before they were relegated at the end of the campaign. They subsequently slipped down to the third tier after that and would even have dropped into the non-professional fourth division in 2017 if 1860 Munich had not failed to meet licensing requirements.
Paderborn took full advantage of that reprieve and successive promotions took them back to the big time at the start of 2019/20. The underdogs in most of their matches, Steffen Baumgart’s men are capable of playing some good football, but they are bottom of the pile as the season resumes. Still, in top scorer Streli Mamba they have a man who lives for the big occasion: four of his five goals this season have come against either Dortmund, Leverkusen or Leipzig.
Watch: Stoppelkamp's historic 82-metre stunner
Nickname: Die Roten Bullen (The Red Bulls)
Trophy haul: -
Star player: Timo Werner
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 in dislodging Bayern sooner rather than later, the arrival of Nagelsmann as head coach at the start of the season was a huge boost for the club. They play exciting, entertaining and fast-paced football, with the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Emil Forsberg and 21-goal top scorer Timo Werner a joy to watch.
Watch: A tactical look at Leipzig's counter-pressing
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 have interrupted the team’s ambitions this term, but David Wagner’s side are still on course for a top-six finish. Goals have proven hard to come by in 2019/20, with only four teams having scored fewer than their haul of 30, but top-scorer Suat Serdar (seven) has impressed in midfield to such an extent 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 last season, Union are 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.
That reverse may not have augured well, but Urs Fischer’s men have recovered brilliantly and are currently comfortably in mid-table, having beaten 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 has become an unlikely attacking weapon, registering seven assists from set pieces thus far.
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 currently in 17th place, but 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 (1890 prior to Matchday 26).
Coach Florian Kohfeldt’s side were pushing for European qualification last season, but have found the going much tougher this time around and need to start picking up wins if they are to avoid what would be just a second Bundesliga relegation in their history. Milot Rashica is their best hope of doing that: the 23-year-old Kosovan forward has a hugely respectable seven goals and four assists from just 20 outings in 2019/20.
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 have been a different proposition under head coach Oliver Glasner this season.
Boasting one of the meanest defences around, the Wolves are hoping to secure qualification for European competition once again this term. They will look to towering Dutch striker Wout Weghorst to do so: his 11 goals and three assists make him the undisputed focal point of the attack.
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