FEATURE | Your guide to the 2019/20 Bundesliga restart: the teams

The Bundesliga is set to return on Saturday 16 May after more than two months without a fixture played. It is the first of the ‘Big 5’ European leagues to return, and the announcement comes less than a month after the Ligue 1 in France was ended and Paris Saint-Germain were awarded with the title.

In the absence of any other football being played in any of Europe’s major leagues, the Bundesliga’s Matchday 26 fixtures, including the Revierderby between Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund, will attract more spectators than ever. With that in mind, Get German Football News has put together a little who’s who of Bundesliga teams for followers who are new to the league and may wish to choose a team to follow.

1. FC Köln

Colours: White and Red
Bundesliga Titles: 2
Current League Position: 10th
Star Player: Mark Uth

The team from the heart of the Rhineland were the inaugural Bundesliga champions all the way back in the 1963/1964 season. Since then, only winning one other title, which came well over 40 years ago. The club in more recent seasons have become somewhat of a yo-yo team in the Bundesliga. The Billy Goats did enjoy a 5th place finish in 2017, before being relegated to 2. Bundesliga the following season. A team with a diehard fanbase, who will look to continue their resurgent form once the season returns.

Mark Uth who joined the club on loan from Schalke back in January is an experienced forward, playing in more of an attacking midfield role for Köln and has played a pivotal role in said resurgent form. Sebastiaan Bornauw an honorable mention, the defender has demonstrated composure and versatility at just 21-years-old.

1. FC Union Berlin

Colours: Red and White
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 11th

Star Player: Christopher Trimmel

The team sitting just behind the Köln in the league, are having a successful first-ever season in the Bundesliga who play in the former East Berlin area of the capital. The Iron Ones who are technically younger than the current format of the Bundesliga (club founded in 1966), have spent their football life in the shadows of neighbours Hertha BSC. Despite this, in their debut season they are currently higher placed in the table than Hertha, an impressive start to life in the top tier. Much like Köln, they have extremely committed fans – many of whom held up pictures of their past relatives in the season opener who had never witnessed their lifelong club make it to the highest stage of German football, a touching tribute.

Christopher Trimmel an experienced full-back and club captain, who has complimented a back-five system this season contributing with seven assists, and shows youthful energy in his slightly older age, getting up and down the right flank and supporting Sebastian Andersson, who is also enjoying a good season up top.

1. FSV Mainz 05

Colours: Red and White
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 15th
Star Player: Robin Quaison

Mainz, a small traditional city down the road from Germany’s Financial Capital – Frankfurt, are a mid-table club who often find themselves being pulled into a battle to survive, but who seem to have a knack for being able to maintain their Bundesliga status. That is no different this season, the 05ers have struggled so far this season and currently sit just outside the relegation zone. The club, along with Köln also celebrate carnival season with a colourful special jersey every year.

Robin Quaison is the man to watch up top for Mainz, he has found the back of the net 12 times already this season, the Swede often finding himself on the left of the attack alongside Karim Onisiwo and Jean-Philippe Mateta, he is a speedy player, with an air of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang about his play style.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Colours: Blue and White
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 9th
Star Player: Andrej Kramaric

The Baden-Wurttemberg based team are a reasonably small club with big ambitions. Achtzehn99 were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time back in 2008, and since then have become a staple of the Bundesliga who improved consistently for their first 10 seasons in Germany’s top flight, gaining qualification to the UEFA Champions League in 2018. Since then, the club has plateaued slightly, in part due to losing some of their bigger players to rival clubs.

Andrej Kramaric, Hoffenheim’s all-time top scorer, has seven goals this season, the once Leicester City striker has found his feet with Die Kraichgauer. One of the Bundesliga’s most consistent forwards, with a great ability to pull something out of the bag when it is most needed.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Colours: Red and Black
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 5th
Star Player: Kai Havertz

One of many Rhine-Ruhr based Bundesliga teams, founded in 1904 by employees of pharmaceutical giant Bayer, Die Werkself are one of the biggest clubs not to win the Bundesliga, finishing as runners-up on five occasions, and on all five occasions Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were crowned champions. Leverkusen’s 2001/02 season saw them being in prime position to win the treble, including the Champions League, only to end up with no silverware. Nevertheless, ‘04 are Champions League regulars with a young, fast and powerful outfit.

Kai Havertz possesses all three of the above-mentioned characteristics. At just 20-years-old, he has taken the Bundesliga by storm, and has been heavily linked with a transfer to various elite European clubs. An attacking-midfielder with an ability to score goals and create them, he is incredibly smart and confident in his approach.

Bayern Munich

Colours: Red and White
Bundesliga Titles: 28 (Bundesliga 1963-present)
Current League Position: 1st
Star Player: Robert Lewandowski

A team that does not need much of an introduction, even to those who are not avid spectators of the Bundesliga. The Bavarians are the most successful team in Germany by a country mile. Most of the Bundesliga’s great players have played for Bayern at some stage; Robben, Matthaus, Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Ballack to name but a few. They also have five UCL titles, making them Germany’s biggest export too.

Robert Lewandowski is the gift that keeps on giving. A prolific goalscorer, and four-time Bundesliga golden boot winner. With 25 goals already this season, he will likely beat his own personal best record of 30 in a single season but will probably struggle to beat Gerd Müller’s 40 – the Bundesliga’s current highest ever tally.

Borussia Dortmund

Colours: Yellow and Black
Bundesliga Titles: 5 (Bundesliga 1963-present)
Current League Position: 2nd
Star Player: Jadon Sancho

The team renowned for its amazing fans and tifos of the ‘Yellow Wall’. A neutral’s favourite, but only 5 occasions in the modern era conquering the Bundesliga. The Black and Yellows have an excellent record of nurturing young talent and have become an attractive club for the next generation.

Jadon Sancho a prime example, an English player who took the gamble to go to Germany and develop his skills which has paid off massively. Enjoying fantastic back-to-back seasons, he is Dortmund’s most valuable player and a joy to watch. Erling Braut Haaland who joined back in January, also had an explosive start to life in the Bundesliga and is one to watch for Dortmund.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Colours: White and Green
Bundesliga Titles: 5
Current League Position: 4th
Star Player: Alassane Plea

The Bundesliga team with arguably the best Twitter Admin, Borussia Mönchengladbach are a team who have not enjoyed much recent success, but were one of Germany’s best teams in the 1970s. Playing near the Dutch border, The Foals have a beautifully delicate setup, centered around possession, with a patient buildup. Like Bayer Leverkusen, they have lots of great players and are Champions League regulars, who often seem to lack late season consistency to be a viable threat for the Meisterschale.

Ramy Bensebaini is a wonderfully gifted full-back who has been fantastic so far this season, but Alassane Plea has probably been the key player for ‘Gladbach up to this point. A player, who is not dissimilar to that of Kevin Volland at Leverkusen, offering physicality, goals, and assists making him a brilliant hold up player, and allowing Breel Embolo and rising star Marcus Thuram to get in behind defences.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Colours: Black and Red
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 12th
Star Player: Filip Kostic

The Eagles are the biggest team in the region of Hesse, title-less in the current Bundesliga era, and in danger of becoming a yo-yo team not so long back, last season’s UEFA Europa League Semi-finalists have become a stronger outfit under the management of Adi Hütter. Despite not having a season to write home about so far, they are a club with strong foundations and some top players.

Filip Kostic, the pick of the bunch. A lightning-fast winger with an unbelievable left foot, who has demonstrated versatility, playing at left full-back frequently in the last two seasons, a powerful counter-attacking weapon.

FC Augsburg

Colours: White and Green
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 14th
Star Player: Florian Niederlechner

The team that is the highest above sea level (502m), FC Augsburg play their football in Bavaria, about an hour’s drive away from Munich, though far from Bayern Munich’s footballing level, they have never won the Bundesliga, and interestingly have never won the 2. Bundesliga either. Since promotion from Germany’s second tier back in 2011, the Fuggerstadter have not been relegated, but much like Mainz, they dabble with the idea of relegation a little too often.

A key player in staving off relegation this season, as Augsburg stand five points clear of the relegation play-off spot, has been Florian Niederlechner, the forward who spent more than two seasons at neighbouring club SC Freiburg struggled to get game time and really establish himself. He has found a new lease of life at Augsburg, and this season he has been one of the best strikers in the league with 11 goals so far.

FC Schalke 04

Colours: Blue and White
Bundesliga Titles: 0 (Bundesliga 1963-present)
Current League Position: 6th
Star Player: Amine Harit

Located in Gelsenkirchen, The Royal Blues are the other half of the Revierderby with Borussia Dortmund. And like Dortmund, they also have crazily passionate fans, which is what really makes that rivalry so special. A huge club to never win the Bundesliga in the current format. This season they have been much better compared to last – when they were pulled into a relegation battle and were far from the team that beat Real Madrid 4-3 at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2015. For fans of the English Premier League, a familiar face in former Huddersfield manager David Wagner is at the managerial helm and the German is a huge reason for Schalke’s success this season.

Amine Harit who was in danger of being a major talent who fell by the wayside, this season has been in rejuvenated form, showing just what he can do with his close control and flair. Bundesliga Player of the Month back in September, an exquisite talent, capable of great things.

Fortuna Düsseldorf

Colours: White and Red
Bundesliga Titles: 0 (Bundesliga 1963-present)
Current League Position: 16th
Star Player: Erik Thommy

A team of the pre-WWII era, situated in Germany’s seventh most populous city, a metropolis divided by numerical administrative districts, Fortuna Düsseldorf are struggling this season, after a great first season back in the Bundesliga last year, Die Flingeraner currently sit in the relegation play-off position. Unlike many other major European Leagues, the Bundesliga has a relegation/promotion play-off where the team placed in 16th in the Bundesliga plays the team in 3rd in the 2. Bundesliga (currently Hamburger SV) for a place in the subsequent Bundesliga season.

On loan from VfB Stuttgart in the 2. Bundesliga, Erik Thommy has been crucial to Düsseldorf, especially in the second half of the season, in which forward Rouwen Hennings goals have dried up. Thommy has Fortuna’s most assists and second-most goals, cutting in from the left attacking midfield, he has a wonderful strike on him, his goal against Union Berlin being a possible contender for goal of the season.

Hertha BSC

Colours: Blue and White
Bundesliga Titles: 0 (Bundesliga 1963-present)
Current League Position: 13th
Star Player: Dodi Lukebakio

The team is based on the west side of Berlin, playing in the world famous Olympiastadion, until their new Hertha Fussballarena opens (due 2025). One of the original 16 teams in the inaugural Bundesliga season, The Old Lady are a big team that have underachieved in the post-war era. This season has been a bit of an administrative mess, parting ways with longstanding manager Pal Dardai at the end of last season, replacing the Hungarian with Ante Covic, who lasted a mere five months, before appointing legendary Germany international Jürgen Klinsmann – who went on a huge spending spree in January, only to resign the next month. Bruno Labbadia, former Hamburg and Wolfsburg manager has now joined Hertha and will hopefully bring stability to the club, who need it after a below-average season so far.

Hertha poached Dodi Lukebakio from Fortuna Düsseldorf in the summer. The Belgian had a great season last year with Düsseldorf on loan from English side Watford, but at £18 million, they were priced out the forward. Hertha were prepared to pay the fee and although not on the same form he had last season, he was slowly starting to show what he is capable of in the capital prior to the lockdown.

RB Leipzig

Colours: White and Red
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 3rd
Star Player: Timo Werner

A club you may have come across for all the wrong reasons, the club is perceived to be unethical by many football fans across Germany and the rest of the world. A group of Red Bull’s board members invested in the playing rights for SSV Markranstadt, a tiny club outside of the city. This is a completely money driven project, in which the goal was to be playing Bundesliga football within 10 years, a feat achieved. RB does not stand for Red Bull for legal reasons, the DFB (German FA) does not allow corporate titles, so instead it is RasenBallsport (Lawn Ball Sports). A brave man chooses to support Leipzig, as there is a lot of stick that comes with it. Interestingly, when the Red Bull board were looking for clubs to invest in, they identified Fortuna Düsseldorf as a potential landing destination, but through mass protest from Fortuna’s fans, they were steered away. RB Düsseldorf could have been a thing.

However, if you are a football fan led by what is carried out by a team’s actions on the pitch, you cannot go too far wrong. The team is dominated by exciting young players with some older and more experienced players in the backbone of the team.

Timo Werner is an excellent striker with a bright future, he almost single-handedly tore Borussia Mönchengladbach apart earlier in the season, with a delightful hat-trick. The forward linked with a move to Liverpool is one of the fastest players in the league and is a defender’s nightmare.

SC Freiburg

Colours: Red and Black
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 8th
Star Player: Christian Gunter

A small club based on the French and Swiss border right in the south-west of Germany, SC Freiburg have become a regular fixture of the Bundesliga in recent years, but they are a yo-yo team on the whole, who have a habit of having a really good season every now and then, in 2013 Die Breisgauer gained qualification to the Europa League, only to be relegated the following season. A fun and unpredictable club with a great coach Christian Streich, who has managed the club for nearly 10 years across both of Germany’s top two divisions.

Christian Gunter, left wing-back and Freiburg academy player, is a brilliant and reliable full back with excellent vision and fantastic crossing abilities. This season is no different, he leads his team for assists in the Bundesliga.

SC Paderborn 07

Colours: Black and Blue
Bundesliga Titles: 0
Current League Position: 18th
Star Player: Kai Proger

The team with the smallest stadium in the Bundesliga, SC Paderborn are a club that hover between 2. Bundesliga and 3. Liga more than the above-mentioned clubs who do so between Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. A club probably over-achieving but in style, probably destined for relegation when the season returns. Head coach Steffen Baumgart is a fiery character, who frequently has heated debates with DFB referees and probably has a seat in the stands reserved at most stadiums in Germany’s top three divisions as a result.

In a season where the bottom club have struggled to pick up points, right midfielder Kai Pröger has picked up six assists and been a key player for Paderborn. Pröger has played for a plethora of teams across German football but seems to have found his feet at Paderborn.

VfL Wolfsburg

Colours: Green and White
Bundesliga Titles: 1
Current League Position: 7th
Star Player: Wout Weghorst

Much like Bayer Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg grew out a factory team, this time from the Volkswagen Group in 1945. They have only one Bundesliga title which came in 2009, Brazilian – Grafite, Edin Dzeko, and Bosnian attacking midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic topped all the goal scoring and assists charts respectively. The Wolves were also responsible for bringing former Werder Bremen midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne back to the Bundesliga, where he had an incredibly successful spell before being taken back to England with Manchester City, where he has gone on to become a global superstar.

Jerome Rousillon, the French left-back is well worth keeping an eye on, blistering pace, excellent vision, and on occasion a neat finisher, he has a similar play style to Jordi Alba. However, it is Wout Weghorst who has probably been more crucial to Wolfsburg over the past two seasons, the forward has been the main source of Wolfsburg’s goals, and has proven to be a great signing from Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar.

SV Werder Bremen

Colours: White and Green
Bundesliga Titles: 4
Current League Position: 17th
Star Player: Milot Rashica

Die Werderaner had a fantastic 2000s with a Bundesliga title, two Pokal Cups, and a runners-up medal for the Europa League, and not to mention the players who played over the course of the decade, names such as Torsten Frings, Diego, Per Mertesacker, and Mesut Ozil. But the 2010s has been a much more turbulent period in time for Werder, their form has slumped massively compared with the previous decade, and this season they look almost certain to face a drop to 2.Bundesliga for the first time in over 40 years. Bremen, situated in the north of Germany, is one of Germany’s poorer city states, a key area for brewing beer, much like neighbouring Hamburg, Beck’s – a global beer brand from Bremen.

Milot Rashica is probably the only top player for Werder Bremen this season, and even so he has not been as good as he was last season, perhaps distracted by rumours linking him away from the club. A winger with a large skill set, including pace, excellent dribbling and a powerful shot. The Kosovan is unlikely to be at the club by the end of the summer with relegation now almost a certainty.

If you are new to the league and thinking of watching this weekend, please do not feel under any pressure to pick one team to follow, as a follower of the Bundesliga for nearly 10 years, I myself, have failed to choose one team to follow religiously. The league is filled with many great clubs, all with unique identities and cultures which is the beauty of the division, but if you have not been convinced by any of the Bundesliga clubs, have a look at the 2. Bundesliga, 3. Liga, and beyond for inspiration.

For more in-depth analysis on the Bundesliga and German football news, be sure to visit Get German Football News’s website or follow us on Twitter.

By Cameron O’Mara.

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