Which Bundesliga team should you support?

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Bayern Munich

If there’s one German team everyone’s heard of, it’s Bayern Munich. A glamorous team in a glamorous city, there’s a reason they’re sometimes called “FC Hollywood.” The reigning European champions are back at their swaggering best under Hansi Flick. Prepare for silverware! Watch Bayern on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Alphonso Davies (D)
  • Robert Lewandowski (F)

Coach

  • Hansi Flick

Key Numbers

  • 246

    Goals Lewandowski has scored in 289 appearances for Bayern, including 55 in all competitions last season

  • 30

    Total league titles Bayern have won, the most in Germany, including the past eight


Rival

Borussia Dortmund


“The best footballers always play for Bayern. Everyone gives it their all in training. Anyone who can’t get on with the idea is in the wrong place.”

Bayern attacker Thomas Muller


Must-watch Game

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich

Der Klassiker is the most hotly anticipated game on the calendar. Can Bayern make it four wins in a row?

11/17, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Borussia Dortmund

Europe’s brightest young talent? Check. Champions League football? Check. Biggest stadium in Germany? Check. Since Jurgen Klopp left in 2015, the trophy cabinet has been a little light, but Dortmund are still one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting teams. Watch Dortmund on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Erling Haaland (F)
  • Jadon Sancho (MF)

Coach

  • Lucien Favre

Key Numbers

  • 81,154

    Average crowd at home games, one of the highest in Europe

  • 23

    Minutes it took Haaland to score a hat trick in his Dortmund debut


Rival

Schalke


“The way we do things didn’t happen by accident. It is a clear and obvious strategy not to buy superstars but to create them.”

Lars Ricken, head of youth development


Must-watch Game

Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

Kick off the season with a fast-paced, free-scoring game in this battle of the Borussias.

9/19, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

RB Leipzig

Widely loathed in Germany for their energy-drink overlords, RB Leipzig are an aspiring superpower with youthful players and one of the world’s best young coaches. Last season’s Champions League semifinalists, they’ll be without striker Timo Werner, who left for Chelsea. Watch Leipzig on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Yussuf Poulsen (F)
  • Dayot Upamecano (D)

Coach

  • Julian Nagelsmann

Key Numbers

  • 2009

    The year RB Leipzig were founded by Red Bull

  • 429

    Chances Leipzig created last season, behind only Bayern


Nickname

die Roten Bullen

(Red Bulls)


“We are not willing to pay an enormous amount of money for so-called football stars. We want to find and develop the stars of tomorrow.”

RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche


Must-watch Game

Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig

This will be an acid test to judge exactly where up-and-comers Leipzig are as a team.

12/5 on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Borussia Monchengladbach

Gladbach peaked in the 1970s, when they won five titles, but they fill a big stadium, play in Europe and have lots of rivals nearby. Up-and-coming manager Marco Rose counts Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp as a mentor and has been linked with jobs abroad. This is pretty good living. Watch Gladbach on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Marcus Thuram (F)
  • Yann Sommer (GK)

Coach

  • Marco Rose

Key Numbers

  • 105

    Big chances, or opportunities when a player should reasonably be expected to score, that Gladbach created last season, second most in the league

  • 12-0

    Scoreline by which Gladbach defeated Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the 1977-78 season, the largest margin in league history


Rival

FC Cologne


“I don’t think we’ll change anything about how we want to play football, because I’m glad to hear that it looks good and is fun to watch.”

Manager Marco Rose


Must-watch Game

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

Only two points separated these teams last year, and this battle could have massive Champions League implications once again.

11/8, noon ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

VfL Wolfsburg

Volkswagen-owned Wolfsburg aren’t very popular around Germany, but they’re regular Europa League contenders. American John-Anthony Brooks plies his trade here, and the women’s team are six-time German champions and two-time Champions League winners. Watch Wolfsburg on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Wout Weghorst (F)
  • Maximilian Arnold (MF)

Coach

  • Oliver Glasner

Key Numbers

  • 2009

    Year Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga, the last team other than Bayern or Dortmund to do so

  • 16

    Goals Wout Weghorst scored last season, the fourth most in the league


Nickname

die Wolfe

(the Wolves)


“We often train without a goalkeeper. We want to defend in a way so that we barely need them.”

Manager Oliver Glasner


Must-watch Game

Wolfsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen

This will be a good gauge of what to expect from the rest of Wolfsburg’s campaign.

9/20, noon ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Eintracht Frankfurt

When it comes to fan culture, it doesn’t get much better than Frankfurt. Their fans love anthems and pregame choreography. Their mascot, Attila the Eagle, flies around the stadium before kickoff. American Timothy Chandler is a mainstay. And in 2017, Frankfurt banned far-right party members from joining the club. Watch Frankfurt on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Timothy Chandler (D)
  • Kevin Trapp (GK)

Coach

  • Adi Hutter

Key Numbers

  • 373

    Chances Frankfurt, who love to attack, created last season, fourth in the league

  • 644

    Frankfurt’s total losses in the Bundesliga, a league record, but they are also one of its oldest clubs


Rival

FC Cologne


“One city, one club — against racism, fascism, homophobia! Those are the values of our club, and those are also my values.”

Club president Peter Fischer


Must-watch Game

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. RB Leipzig

Frankfurt have lost just one of their past six against rising superpower Leipzig.

11/21, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Bayer Leverkusen

Founded by employees of the pharmaceutical giant, Bayer Leverkusen play fast-paced, attacking football and just missed out on the Champions League last season. They lost homegrown star Kai Havertz to Chelsea this summer, but there’s plenty of young talent looking to step up. Watch Leverkusen on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Karim Bellarabi (MF)
  • Leon Bailey (MF)

Coach

  • Peter Bosz

Key Numbers

  • 2,519

    Miles Leverkusen players ran last season, the most in the league

  • 5

    Times Leverkusen have finished runners-up without ever winning the league


Nickname

die Werkself

(the Company Eleven)


“My approach is attacking football with a compact defense. I want to entertain the fans in the stadium. When I go home, I should say: ‘Wow, that was exciting.'”

Manager Peter Bosz


Must-watch Game

Bayer Leverkusen vs. RB Leipzig

Leverkusen finished just three points behind Leipzig last season and will look to win at home.

9/26, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

SC Freiburg

Steady and hardworking, tiny Freiburg punch way above their weight. Coach Christian Streich is not afraid to speak out about political issues, and there’s a new stadium coming. A classic neutral’s favorite. Watch Freiburg on ESPN+.

Star

  • Nils Petersen (F)

Coach

  • Christian Streich

Key Numbers

  • 2011

    The year Christian Streich became manager of Freiburg, where he also played in the 1980s. He is the longest-serving manager in the Bundesliga.

  • 34,700

    Capacity of Freiburg’s new stadium, still small but with 10,000 more seats than their old one


Rival

VfB Stuttgart


“We’re not totally unsexy. On the other hand, I am relatively unsexy.”

Manager Christian Streich


Must-watch Game

VfB Stuttgart vs. SC Freiburg

There’s no better way to kick off Freiburg’s season than taking on their newly promoted rivals.

9/19, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

1. FC Union Berlin

Gritty like the German capital, Union Berlin are fighting to stay up in their second-ever season in the top division. Their fans are seriously dedicated: In 2004, they saved the club from bankruptcy by donating blood for money en masse. Watch Union on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Max Kruse (F)
  • Keita Endo (MF)

Coach

  • Urs Fischer

Key Numbers

  • 140,000

    Hours of work 2,500 supporters volunteered to help rebuild their stadium in 2008

  • 1966

    The year the East Berlin side took its current name, but the team traces its history back to the 1900s


Rival

Hertha Berlin


“The president crosses the same parking lot as a normal fan. We are close together. People know they are welcome with what they have to bring in: ideas, their own hands’ work.”

Union Berlin communications director Christian Arbeit


Must-watch Game

Union Berlin vs. Mainz

This should be a closely contested game between evenly matched sides.

10/2, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

1. FC Cologne

The city of Cologne is known for its massive Carnival celebrations, so it’s no surprise that the team’s fan base is enormous and intense too. Their mascot, a live goat named Hennes, is the best in sports (though he, like the fans, was banned from the stadium because of the pandemic). Watch Cologne on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Jonas Hector (D)
  • Timo Horn (GK)

Coach

  • Markus Gisdol

Key Numbers

  • 24

    Points Cologne earned in 10 midseason matches last year, which ultimately saved them from relegation despite playing poorly in the other 24 games

  • 40

    Miles between Cologne and fierce rivals Gladbach, who both rose to prominence in the 1970s. (Don’t ask Cologne fans about their head-to-head record.)


Rival

Borussia Monchengladbach


“Football is show business and, above all, has to do with enthusiasm. It is still indescribably large here.”

Club president Werner Wolf


Must-watch Game

Cologne vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

An early-season rivalry matchup and a statement opportunity for a Billy Goats squad that was all over the map last season.

10/3, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Arminia Bielefeld

Discover hardworking Arminia Bielefeld as they rediscover the first division after 11 years away. Somewhat of an unknown to the bigger clubs, they could spring a surprise or two as they fight to stay up at one of Germany’s best stadiums, the Bielefelder Alm. Watch Bielefeld on ESPN+.

Star

  • Fabian Klos (F)

Coach

  • Uwe Neuhaus

Key Numbers

  • 294

    Appearances made by Klos, who signed with Bielefeld in 2011, when they were still in the third division

  • 8

    Times Bielefeld have been promoted to the Bundesliga, a joint league record


Nickname

die Blauen

(the Blues)


“I never considered turning pro a real option. When I joined Bielefeld, I did not think about starting a real career but rather: Third league? Sounds superb.”

Club legend and top scorer Fabian Klos


Must-watch Game

Arminia Bielefeld vs. Borussia Dortmund

This match between new boys Bielefeld and their Westphalian rivals has the potential for a big upset.

10/31, 10:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

FC Augsburg

History buffs, rejoice! Augsburg is one of Germany’s oldest cities and home to its famous string puppet theater: die Augsburger Puppenkiste. The team, who don’t have a mascot, regularly finish in the bottom half of the table but are never really in danger of relegation. Watch Augsburg on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Florian Niederlechner (F)
  • Reece Oxford (D)

Coach

  • Heiko Herrlich

Key Numbers

  • 3

    Own goals Augsburg scored last season, second only to relegated Fortuna Dusseldorf

  • 2011

    Year Augsburg played in the Bundesliga for the first time. They haven’t been relegated since.


Nickname

die Fuggerstadter

(people from the Fugger city)


“They always had a good mentality, a good mindset. That team died on the pitch. It was always nasty playing against Augsburg. It’s a great fit for me. I work football.”

New Augsburg midfielder Daniel Caligiuri


Must-watch Game

Union Berlin vs. Augsburg

These teams switched goalkeepers over the summer, and Union fan favorite-turned-Augsburg keeper Rafal Gikiewicz may end up in the wrong dressing room.

9/19, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Hertha Berlin

A club just like the German capital: constantly changing, searching for its identity. Former USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann took charge last November — and lasted just three months. But fans are excited by an influx of cash that could vault them into the top half of the table. Watch Hertha on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Krzysztof Piatek (F)
  • Matheus Cunha (MF)

Coach

  • Bruno Labbadia

Key Numbers

  • 4

    Managers Hertha Berlin had last season, including former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann

  • 475M

    Dollars new investor Lars Windhorst has put into the club since 2019


Rival

Union Berlin


“We are west, east and everything in between. We are a capital and global city and we love every district. Here, anything and everyone can be the next big thing. Our road to success will always be a roller-coaster ride.”

Hertha Berlin credo


Must-watch Game

Hertha Berlin vs. Union Berlin

In the Bundesliga’s third-ever Berlin derby, Hertha will be out to avenge Union’s 1-0 win at their stadium last season.

12/5 on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim’s wealthy owner, Dietmar Hopp, has brought unprecedented success to his tiny hometown, and everyone hates them. It’s great! They regularly push for Europe and have produced stars in recent years, including Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino and Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann. Watch Hoffenheim on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Andrej Kramaric (F)
  • Oliver Baumann (GK)

Coach

  • Sebastian Hoeness

Key Numbers

  • 52

    Hoffenheim’s average possession rate last season, which helped them control matches enough to qualify for the Europa League despite a leaky defense

  • 18.7B

    Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp’s personal worth, in dollars. After founding software company SAP, he turned his local fifth-division club into a Bundesliga mainstay.


Nickname

die Kraichgauer

(people from the Kraichgau area)


“There’s not a single team in the Bundesliga that can survive without injections of money. … That’s the reality, and anything else is just a fairy tale.”

Club founder and owner Dietmar Hopp


Must-watch Game

Hoffenheim vs. RB Leipzig

This game will set the tone for whether Hoffenheim is again in the running for Europe.

12/16 on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

Werder Bremen

Success is never far away for Werder Bremen, a league heavyweight in the 1980s, but they were really, really close to relegation last year. They don’t have a mascot, but they do have an American: 20-year-old striker Josh Sargent. Watch Bremen on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Milot Rashica (MF)
  • Josh Sargent (F)

Coach

  • Florian Kohfeldt

Key Numbers

  • 56

    Seasons Werder Bremen have played in the Bundesliga, a league record

  • 1.1

    Goals Bremen allowed in the last nine games of the season, down from 2.4 in the first 25


Nickname

Die Grun-Weissen

(the Green-Whites)


“Werder is a club that wants to train its players, wants to do better. We can rarely buy completely finished players.”

Chairman Marco Bode


Must-watch Game

Schalke vs. Werder Bremen

This is a budding rivalry — Schalke purchased a few key players from Werder through the years and did little with them — and if either team is going to do semi-big things this year, this is an early must-win.

9/26, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

1. FSV Mainz 05

Alongside Cologne, Mainz are known as “the Carnival club” for the city’s annual celebrations. A solid mid-table side, their fans love colorful costumes and a good party. And they have serious coaching pedigree: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp started his career here, followed by PSG’s Thomas Tuchel. Watch Mainz on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Robin Quaison (F)
  • Jean-Philippe Mateta (F)

Coach

  • Achim Beierlorzer

Key Numbers

  • 340

    Games Jurgen Klopp played for Mainz over 11 years before becoming their manager and guiding them to promotion in 2004

  • 440

    Fouls Mainz committed last season, the fourth most in the Bundesliga


Rival

Eintracht Frankfurt


“My greatest success as a coach was promotion to the Bundesliga with Mainz in 2004. We had a small squad, strong opponents. What I did with Mainz cannot be topped.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp


Must-watch Game

Mainz vs. Cologne

The two teams finished within a point of each other last season, and Mainz has since hired Cologne’s ex-manager Achim Beierlorzer.

12/12 on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

VfB Stuttgart

Newly promoted Stuttgart are a historic club fallen on tough times. Their stadium is named after the city’s most famous export, Mercedes-Benz, and they’re rebuilding under the leadership of CEO Thomas Hitzlsperger, one of the sport’s only openly gay men, and Italian American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo, who grew up in New Jersey. Watch Stuttgart on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Nicolas Gonzalez (F)
  • Orel Mangala (MF)

Coach

  • Pellegrino Matarazzo

Key Numbers

  • 63

    Percentage of possession Stuttgart had last season in the 2nd division

  • 11.5

    Percentage of the club owned by Daimler, the Stuttgart-based company that makes Mercedes


Rival

Freiburg


“I’m proud of the boys. We went through many ups and downs in the second half of the season. We kept getting up. Everyone has always believed that we can achieve our goal.”

Manager Pellegrino Matarazzo on winning promotion


Must-watch Game

VfB Stuttgart vs. Bayer Leverkusen

High-flying Leverkusen will pose a tough test for Stuttgart in their second home game.

10/3, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Meet

FC Schalke 04

Blue-collar Schalke, who dominated in the 1930s and last won silverware in 2011, are looking to recapture past glories under manager — and former USMNT striker — David Wagner. They lost American Weston McKennie to Juventus over the summer but still have 21-year-old Virginia native Nick Taitague. Watch Schalke on ESPN+.

Stars

  • Vedad Ibisevic (F)
  • Rabbi Matondo (MF)

Coach

  • David Wagner

Key Numbers

  • 8,115

    Schalke’s sprints last season, the second most in the league. They like their football fast!

  • 1904

    The year Schalke were founded, and they keep “04” in the team’s full name


Rival

Borussia Dortmund


“FC Schalke 04 began as a colliers’ and grafters’ club. For this reason our club shall within the financial means at its disposal enable its supporters from all social backgrounds to participate in the life of the club and attend matches.”

Schalke mission statement


Must-watch Game

Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke

All bets are off when these fierce local rivals clash. Prepare for great goals, hard tackles and a red card or two.

10/24, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Twitter Follows

Explore other teams
  • Arminia Bielefeld

    The comeback kids

  • FC Augsburg

    The other Bavarians

  • Bayer Leverkusen

    The almost champions

  • Bayern Munich

    The juggernauts

  • Borussia Dortmund

    The yellow wall

  • Borussia Monchengladbach

    The steady contenders

  • 1. FC Cologne

    The Billy Goats

  • Eintracht Frankfurt

    The passionate progressives

  • SC Freiburg

    The quirky overachievers

  • Hertha Berlin

    The Old Lady with new money

  • TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

    The passion project

  • 1. FSV Mainz 05

    Klopp’s Carnival club

  • RB Leipzig

    Red Bull’s up-and-comers

  • FC Schalke 04

    The blue-collar boys

  • VfB Stuttgart

    The dormant giants

  • 1. FC Union Berlin

    The grassroots club

  • Werder Bremen

    The consistent northerners

  • VfL Wolfsburg

    Volkswagen’s wolves