When football fans think of German football, the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich often spring to mind. In the last decade, Bayern’s dominance in Germany’s top flight has often led to criticism of the country’s footballing landscape.
However, while the Bundesliga remains a highly competitive league to those who take the time to marvel at its magnificence, hiding below is a division that will take one’s breath away. The 2. Bundesliga contains some of not just Germany’s biggest sides, but European football’s biggest sides.
Former European champions Hamburger SV, who were once considered too big to go down, now find that they are too big to go back up. With sides wanting to ensure that Der Dino now face an eternity in Germany’s second tier, every game involving Hamburg is guaranteed to be full of drama and entertainment.
Nevertheless, in recent years, Germany’s second tier has welcomed other sides with significant reputations. This season Hertha Berlin, Schalke 04, Kaiserslautern, Hannover 96, FC Nürnberg, and many more call the division their home.
This has undoubtedly drawn in star power, magnificent support and an ample supply of on-field quality to the league. With an average attendance of 22,000 fans per game last season, no other second division can boast a better return – and it is only expected to increase for this upcoming campaign.
However, It is no surprise that the fans flock to the grounds in their numbers considering the entertainment that is on display. Games that finish 2-1 are often regarded as boring, and 90th-minute madness is guaranteed almost every week.
Just by glancing at last year’s 2. Bundesliga can give a small inkling of what to expect. Newly relegated Arminia Bielefeld were expected to fight for their return to the Bundesliga, but instead found themselves embarrassingly relegated to the 3. Liga after a humiliating display in the promotion/relegation playoff as they succumbed to Wehen Wiesbaden.
While on the final day with Hamburg’s game finished and fans storming the pitch at Sandhausen in jubilation, they could only listen on in shock as Heidenheim scored two goals in the 90th minute to leapfrog from 3rd to 1st to the despair of Der Dino. The side expected to stroll the league every season, missed out on promotion once again.
However, this is just scratching the surface as to why the 2. Bundesliga is the best league in world football. If guaranteed goals, drama and loyal support with the added bonus of knowing that anyone can beat anyone is not enough to lure Europe’s eyes to Germany’s second tier then nothing will.
The football culture on display is truly spellbinding and just by giving the league the opportunity to make an impression will lead to one becoming uncontrollably hooked.
GGFN | Will Shopland