FEATURE | Putting Bundesliga teams on the map

An informative piece from Get German Football News looking at the geography of the Bundesliga.

Germany is the seventh largest country in Europe, which has one of the most famous football leagues within its borders – the Bundesliga. We frequently hear about how much distance the players covered in a season, but what about the poor old team bus driver? One would imagine, he covered a lot more distance than Maximilian Eggestein last season (409.2km, most distance covered 2018/19 Bundesliga season).

Well, the distance travelled will vary slightly for every team, and those teams playing in Europe will no doubt have different travel arrangements throughout the course of the season. Using Mainz 05 as an example, they will travel to Freiburg for their first game of the season which is a round trip of 557.6km. Mainz being a town located in Hesse, and Freiburg – a city in neighbouring Lander Baden-Wurttemberg. Our bus driver in question has now already covered more ground in one trip than Maxi Eggestein did in a season, albeit in a Setra.

That is one away matchday of 17 in total, which should already give you an understanding of the distance covered in the regular season. In total, Mainz will travel just short of 11,000km this season. I think that is probably even more than N’Golo Kante travelled in Leicester City’s Premier League title winning season…

The teams with the furthest travels will be SC Freiburg and Union Berlin. The distance between their grounds is roughly 820km, subject to which route the team bus driver takes, and with a journey time of over 7 hours. Like the distance, the travel time varies depending on roadworks on the Autobahn. A large chunk of the journey is on the Bundesautobahn 9 which is one of Germany’s key routes, connecting Munich with the capital – Berlin. Union narrowly further than Hertha for Freiburg. Hertha playing at the famous Olympiastadion, about 10km west of the centre of the city, Union playing in the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, roughly 16km east of the city, in the former East Berlin.

Although the journey for Freiburg and Union Berlin is a lengthy one, spare a moment for the Stade Brestois team bus driver who has to travel over 1,400km this season to AS Monaco’s Stade Louis II. One of, if not the, longest journey in the big five leagues this season. Maybe Air France for that one…

In the 2019/20 Bundesliga season there are only two teams from one city – Union Berlin and Hertha BSC. Interestingly enough, there is only one intercity rivalry in the 2. Bundesliga this season too – Hamburger SV and FC St. Pauli, although Greuther Fürth and FC Nürnberg are conjoined neighbouring towns.

Despite this, it is not Union and Hertha that are the closest rivalry in the Bundesliga this season. It may also surprise you that despite Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 being widely regarded as the biggest rivalry in the league, this is not the closest rivalry either. It is in fact Bayer Leverkusen and newly promoted FC Köln. These teams are just over 20km apart, making them around 10km closer than the Union-Hertha and the Dortmund-Schalke grounds.

This is due to how compact the Rhine-Ruhr region is. This metropolitan area is one of the most populous in Europe. The Rhine-Ruhr has the likes of Dortmund, Cologne, Essen, Dusseldorf and Duisburg within its limits. There are six Bundesliga teams this season from the Rhine-Ruhr (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Köln, Fortuna Düsseldorf). So even though the Berlin clubs play in the same city, due to the vastness of the capital they are surprisingly far apart.

Something else interesting to consider when looking at the geography of the Bundesliga is the team that plays at the highest point. Well, the highest village in Germany is Feldberg in Baden-Wurttemberg. Feldberg does have a football team, but unfortunately they are not quite at the ‘heights’ of any of the three top divisions. Germany has either ends of the spectrum when it comes to altitude, spanning from marshlands in the north of the country, mere metres above sea level, to the Bavarian alps of the south.

With that in mind, there are three teams/cities which are almost aligned along the southern borders of Germany; Freiburg, Augsburg and Munich. The highest stadium, rising 10m higher than the Allianz Arena down the road in Munich, is the WWK Arena where FC Augsburg play, at 502m above sea level. Not quite the extremities that the Denver Broncos face in the NFL at 1582MASL, but significantly higher than the Weser-Stadion where Werder Bremen play in the northern Landers. Just 8m above sea level, making it the lowest elevated stadium in the Bundesliga this season.

If you are just here for the football itself and geography is not really your thing, this article probably will not do much for you. However, if you are a geography geek like me, it might just peak your interest. The geography of the Bundesliga is fascinating. Particularly, the Rhine-Ruhr, which is like the London of the league, with lots of teams closely compacted, but intriguingly, all the teams are located in different towns and cities.

By Cameron O’Mara.


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