It has felt like an eternity since football was last on our screens but, with the German Football Association rumoured to be optimistic of a 9th May return date for the Bundesliga, this long wait could soon be over.
Germany has seemingly handled Covid-19 better than most by adopting the approach of lockdown early on and this has meant that Bundesliga clubs have been back training for a number of weeks, although much of this training has been under social-distancing constraints. With the last match played on the 8th March, a 1-1 draw between Mainz and Fortuna Dusseldorf, this would mean a 9th May return day would mark almost exactly two months since a ball was last kicked in the German top flight. This has of course led to questions over the feasibility and morality of a return so soon.
It is understood that the German F.A’s approach will be to play fixtures behind closed doors and with the stadium split into three sections, each of approximately 100 people.
The first group is the playing staff, coaching staff and other members of staff associated with the clubs.
The second group is official spectators and journalists, with the third group being safety staff and other staff of that ilk who ensure the running of the match day.
While this is seemingly positive, the German government are yet to discuss the matter and it is uncertain whether they will back the proposals. It is estimated that, for the league to return in this format, 20,000 Covid-19 tests will be required to make this as safe as possible for all involved. This raises questions over the morality of the proposals, with many feeling those tests could be better used for hospitals or the vulnerable in German society.
However, if the league is to restart in early May this is an exciting prospect for football fans around the world whose weekends just haven’t been the same. The German Bundesliga is an exciting, passion-fuelled league. Bayern Munich’s rare slow start to the season meant that a number of clubs had a sniff of toppling the serial winners’ recent dominance, but following a change in management, they have regained their place at the top of the table. This place is still up for grabs though, with Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig hot on their heels, which makes for a thrilling title race. There is also an intriguing relegation battle that, with a few bad results, a number of teams could find themselves involved in.
The following guide is designed to help you get to grips with the clubs that make up the German Bundesliga before it re-commences. You never know, you may even find yourself choosing a new second team to support!
Star man: Philipp Max
Promoted to the German top flight for the first time in 2011, Augsburg have not left the division since. They have really struggled to put a consistent run of form together this season, aside from a run of four wins and a draw in November, which has led to them hovering above the relegation play-off place.
Star man: Kai Havertz
Sitting two points off the 4th Champions League place, Leverkusen will be desperate to get the season back underway. An exciting blend of players, of which 20 year old Kai Havertz is the pick of the bunch, make Leverkusen an enjoyable team to watch. Their fans will be hoping the goals of Kevin Volland can help secure a top 4 finish.
Star man: Robert Lewandowski
The Bavarian club sit proudly at Europe’s top table and, despite a poor start, have restored order by returning to the Bundesliga summit following the sacking of Niko Kovač. Robert Lewandowski continues to score at a relentless rate and Serge Gnabry has gone some way to helping Bayern fans forget about the retired Arjen Robben, as Tottenham and Chelsea fans will be painfully aware. It seems a rebuild has begun at the club but not at the cost of domestic titles, not willingly at least.
Star man: Marco Reus
If it’s excitement you want then Dortmund are the team for you. A club that prides itself on player development, goals are rarely in short supply when Dortmund are involved. Exciting young players such as Sancho, Brandt and recent acquisition Haland coupled with good experienced players like Reus and Witsel ensure plenty of flair is on display.
Star man: Alassane Plea
The five time Bundesliga champions have enjoyed a decent season so far, with notable results including a 2-1 home triumph over Bayern Munich in December. With an average age of 26 and players such as Breel Embolo and Marcus Thuram, son of France legend Lilian, on their books the future looks bright for Mönchengladbach.
Star man: Filip Kostic
As any team would, Eintracht Frankfurt have struggled to match the heights of last season after the departures of Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic, and Sebastien Haller. A 7th placed finish in the league and a run to the semi-finals of the Europa League spoilt their fans who have had to settle for inconsistency so far this season.
FC Shalke 04
Star man: Suat Serdar
Schalke are a mainstay in the Bundesliga and have boasted some big names in recent years with the likes of Real Madrid legend Raul, albeit at the end of his career. The current crop are enjoying a strong season under David Wagner and currently sit just ahead of their rivals for the Europa League qualification spot. However, failing to score in eight of their league games this season, they are not always the most free scoring of teams.
FC Union Berlin
Star man: Marius Bülter
FC Union Berlin are competing in the first Bundesliga season in their history after defeating VfB Stuttgart in the relegation play-off to secure promotion. They have gained a wave of media attention due to their incredibly passionate fans and the atmosphere that they generate at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Stadium at the old Forester’s house). In their first home game of the season fans held up pictures of fans who had died before they got to see the team play in the Bundesliga and these fans were added to the official attendance. Their home form is the key to them sitting 11th in the table, with six wins in front of their own fans, it is obvious to see the impact of the atmosphere generated.
Star man: Erik Thommy
It’s been a tough season for Fortuna Düsseldorf who sit in the relegation play-off spot. However, it’s still all to play for with Eintracht Frankfurt in 12th only being eight points clear of them with nine games to play. They are by no means clear of automatic relegation either, with Werder Bremen four points off them and with a game in hand. A nail biting end to the season looks very likely for the side led by former Manchester City striker Uwe Rösler.
Star man: Robin Quaison
FSV Mainz are another side who have struggled this season and sit four points above Fortuna Düsseldorf in the relegation play-off position. One bright spark this season has been the form of Swedish striker Robin Quaison with his 12 goals and 2 assists in 24 Bundesliga matches so far a very respectable tally.
Star man: Dodi Lukebakio
A mixed bag of a season so far sees Hertha sat precariously six points clear of the relegation play-off place. January moves for Krzysztof Piatek and Matheus Cunha brought optimism, with fans hoping Piatek in particular can rediscover the form that persuaded AC Milan to spend a reported fee of €35 million to bring him to the club in January 2019.
Star man: Sebastian Rudy
When proceedings were brought to a halt in early March Hoffenheim were in 9th, the position they ended the 2018/19 season in. With Sebastian Rudy in central midfield and Andrej Kramaric up front they have some players with a point to prove, with failed spells at Bayern Munich and Leicester City respectively. Kramaric often leads the line for Croatia nowadays and is Hoffenheim’s all time leading Bundesliga scorer with 57 goals. Rudy is a long established Bundesliga player with 29 Germany caps, with the season at Bayern Munich an unfortunate blip.
Star man: Jonas Hector
Köln gained promotion back to the Bundesliga at the first attempt after being relegated to the second division in the 2017/18 season. A club that has a special place in the heart of many, including Lukas Podolski who has a tattoo dedicated to the club, they have faired well in their return to the Bundesliga and currently lie in 10th position. A regular member of the Germany squad, Jonas Hector is the key man for the club and he cemented his place in Köln folklore by signing a new contract with the club following their relegation in 2018 and driving the club to promotion.
Star man: Dennis Srbeny
The last few seasons have been a real rollercoaster for Paderborn and their fans with promotion to the Bundesliga in 2013/14 season followed by relegation to the second division the following season and dropping further to the third division before climbing back up to the Bundesliga by securing promotion last season. Unless they can turn their fortunes around following the break it appears another short stay is on the cards, with Paderborn bottom of the table and ten points adrift of safety with nine games left to play.
Star man: Timo Werner
A club who divide opinion, Leipzig have climbed the leagues and become one of the most exciting teams in Europe with their high intensity football and array of talent. However, many football fans disagree with the way in which they have raced up the leagues due to a perceived bought success as a result of owners Red Bull. Timo Werner provides the goals and is one of the most in demand forwards in Europe with Liverpool constantly linked with a move for the German striker.
Star man: Nils Petersen
SC Freiburg are having a strong season and have a real chance of securing a Europa League qualification stage spot if they can continue in the same vein when play resumes. Their fans will be enjoying this season as traditionally they are very much a yo-yo club between the first and second division. This has lead to their fan’s in the 1990s coining the chant “We go down , we go up, we go into the UEFA Cup”. They will be hoping the goals of Nils Peterson can fire them into the UEFA Cup’s modern-day equivalent the Europa League.
Star man: Wout Weghorst
VfL Wolfsburg are another club with a strong chance of securing a Europa League spot, currently one point behind Schalke in 6th and ahead of SC Freiburg on goal difference. Dutch striker Wout Weghorst tends to supply the goals and the 2008/09 Bundesliga champions will be relishing a return to football for what should be an exciting end to the season.
Star man: Milot Rashica
For a club that has won the Bundesliga on four occasions and reached the final of the last edition of the Uefa Cup in 2009 languishing in 17th position is an unfortunate fall from grace for Werder Bremen. Their fans are more used to seeing their club at least finishing in the top half of the table but five losses in their last five games before the season was halted shows why they are in the trouble they are in. One bright spark has been Kosovo international Milot Rashica who has scored seven and assisted four, either from the wing or just off the main striker.