Can you believe it? Football’s actually coming back. Or rather, fussball’s coming back.
Yes, on Saturday May 16th the German Bundesliga (and 2. Bundesliga) will resume. And, in doing so, will surely find itself possessed of a legion of new fans desperate for a slice of that delicious football content pie.
But for many of those arriving late to the Bundesliga party, it’ll be necessary to quickly find a team to support. After all, football is at its best when you’re emotionally invested.
— DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga (@DFL_Official) May 7, 2020
FC BAYERN – MAN UNITED
Like Man United, Bayern hail from a proud and self-sufficient industrial metropolis situated miles away from their country’s capital. Moreover, “FC Hollywood” also boast a vast army of glory-hunting supporters originating far beyond the limits of their hometown.
Both clubs are probably their countries’ biggest football “brands”, at least in terms of their ability to sign up official noodle partners from around the world.
They’re also widely loathed within their nation, possibly because both also tend to win quite a lot of things – although United have taken a welcome break from success in recent times.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND – LIVERPOOL
Dortmund and Liverpool supporters have a lot in common – and not just their rabid adoration for the toothy comedy stylings of Jürgen Norbert Klopp.
Both sets of fans have an unshakeable belief that their club just “means more” than any other, and will take every opportunity to let you know exactly how marvellous things are at Anfield and the Westfalenstadion.
That said, over the past few seasons there’s been plenty of reason to believe them.
RB LEIPZIG – MAN CITY/CHELSEA
City, Chelsea and Leipzig supporters share an origin story – in the sense that, until their teams became rich and successful, those supporters supported different teams, if anyone at all.
The clubs’ current fanbases effectively came into existence in the 2000s, when Red Bull took over the licence of SSV Markranstadt, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and Abu Dhabi United Group finalised their takeover of City.
Around the time of the latter, hordes of former Chelsea fans swapped dark blue for sky blue, while ex-Lokomotive Leipzig diehards suddenly found themselves keen consumers of fizzy sports drinks.
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH – ASTON VILLA
Decent in the past, even tasting some European success around the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Fell on hard times after the millennium, eventually dropping down a division before bouncing back into the top flight.
Possess a massive stadium and are always considered one of the country’s biggest clubs despite not doing much over the last 25 years or so. A match made in modern mediocrity heaven.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN – NEWCASTLE UNITED/TOTTENHAM
In Germany they call Leverkusen “Neverkusen”, largely on the back of the club’s unfortunate sequence of second-place finishes in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
From 1997 to 2002 they finished as runners-up in the Bundesliga on four occasions, while also losing in the finals of the Champions League and German cup. Oh dear.
It seems fitting that they should be adopted by supporters of a team whose most notable sporting achievement in recent times has been to finish as the most famous runners-up in Premier League history.
Neverkusen also sounds a bit like Newcastle, which is nice.
Alternatively, considering Leverkusen’s propensity to bottle it on the big occasion, they might also be of some interest to Tottenham fans looking for a side equally prone to nosebleeds at high altitude.
SCHALKE 04 – EVERTON
A team in blue often overshadowed by a louder and more successful rival, but with a sizeable, loyal and passionate fanbase of its own.
Some great players have played for these clubs over the years but it has been quite a while since they won any truly major silverware.
They’re both low-key rich and tend to invest a lot in playing staff – but have absolutely nothing to show for it.
WOLFSBURG – WOLVES
Well, I mean, obviously. Wolfsburg are even nicknamed “The Wolves” in German.
Aside from that, Wolfsburg and Wolverhampton share some similarities, with both being (current or former) centres of heavy industry located in the midlands of their respective countries.
FREIBURG – BRIGHTON
In the words of an in-office Seagulls supporter, Brighton are a “kinda shitty team, no one would miss them if they weren’t there (probably), and reasonably unremarkable.”
Brighton fans, we therefore give you the kinda shitty and reasonably unremarkable SC Freiburg. But wait, there’s more!
Freiburg is known as an “eco-city” and according to Wikipedia is renowned for “its scenic beauty, relatively warm and sunny climate,” and is a hub for regional tourism.
There’s also the fact that Brighton has the only Green Party MP in the UK, while Freiburg is easily the Greens’ biggest German stronghold, with 35% of the city’s vote. Uncanny.
HOFFENHEIM – LEICESTER CITY
On the face of it, Hoffenheim and Leicester City’s rapid ascents from the lower divisions to the upper reaches of the top tier – and in the Foxes’ case, the very summit – are feelgood stories.
Which they mostly are, especially in Leicester’s case. But pull back the curtain and their rises were made possible by significant, game-changing investment that dwarfed the funds available to other teams in the leagues they’ve now left behind.
Still, it seems a bit unfair to compare Leicester to Hoffenheim considering they provided the Premier League with arguably the most popular, celebrated and unexpected title-winning side since its foundation. But hey-ho, what’s done is done. Don’t @ us.
KOLN – SOUTHAMPTON
Decent in the 1970s and 1980s, with occasional jaunts out of the top division in relatively recent times.
Unlikely to ever mix it with the big boys again. Nevertheless considered a fixture of the league and a grand old club with a loud, loyal fanbase.
Always likely to have their best players picked off by bigger clubs.
UNION BERLIN – CRYSTAL PALACE
Diminutive but picturesque and vibrant stadium, passionate and organised fans.
Never going to be the big-shots in their city, but arguably have remained far more in touch with their supporters and culture than larger local rivals.
Relegation will always be a lingering threat.
EINTRACHT FRANKFURT – SHEFFIELD UNITED
Teams with noble histories in their respective national cups and a solitary top-flight league title to their name.
Occasionally to be found below the highest level of the pyramid, which has never put off their loud, proud and sizeable fanbase.
From cities that have had notable impacts on the music world over the years.
HERTHA BSC – WEST HAM
A shockingly chaotic team from the capital city with a big, noisy fanbase who play in what was once an Olympic stadium?
Decent in the 1970s but often found in the second tier after the turn of the 21st century?
Been around for ages but ultimately never really been able to hack it with the elite, despite all the talk?
AUGSBURG – WATFORD
Inoffensive, medium-sized clubs situated close enough to major cities to be considered within the “commuter belt”.
By now they’ve become established at the highest rung in the ladder but are probably never going to be anything other than also-rans.
Quiet and hard-to-dislike local sides.
MAINZ 05 – NORWICH CITY
Ultimately, neither of these clubs have done much in the top tier despite featuring regularly.
Both earned promotions to the promised land under charismatic German coaches, Jürgen Klopp and Daniel Farke.
Pretty inoffensive to most (Frankfurt and Ipswich excluded, perhaps).
FORTUNA DUSSELDORF – BURNLEY
Hailing from the country’s industrial heartland, these two were big news if you go back a century or so.
Largely anonymous since then and until very recently more at home outside the top division.
Not much more to say.
WERDER BREMEN – ARSENAL
In the 1990s and 2000s, both these sides were hot shit. They won domestic league titles, going toe-to-toe with the Bayerns and Man Uniteds, and also made an impact on the continental scene.
They did all this with exciting teams built around local talent mixed with clever imports from abroad, but ended up persevering far too long with one manager. These days, they’re both pretty crap and despite being massive clubs in their own right have found themselves closer to bottom than top in 2019-20.
Oh, and they also have Mesut Ozil in common.
SC PADERBORN – BOURNEMOUTH
Small clubs with low-capacity stadiums that, in terms of size, wouldn’t look out of place two tiers below where they currently operate.
Only became relevant in the top flight very recently, earning promotions after many years in lower leagues.
Led by an understated manager who brought the club all the way up through the divisions. They’re doing well to be where they are.