The German football league had a restart date of May 16 confirmed on Thursday afternoon. If you’re new to German football, this guide should help you feel a little more familiar.
League position: 18th
Stadium & Capacity: Benteler Arena (15,000)
The phrase ‘yo-yo club’ barely covers Paderborn’s precipitous fall and then dramatic rise back through the divisions of German football. From topping the Bundesliga briefly in 2014, the Rhineland club – situated around 65 miles from Dortmund – found themselves at the root of Germany’s third tier within three years. Only 1860 Munich’s financial problems kept them in the league, a stroke of fortune that the club used to reset and achieve back-to-back promotions.
Six points from the relegation play-off place, a drop back to the second tier looks highly likely. Everton youth player Anthony Evans is on loan there, but is yet to make a league appearance.
Premier League Equivalent: Charlton Athletic (1998-99)
Norwich City in 2011, Southampton in 2012 and Sheffield United last year all achieved back-to-back promotions to reach the top flight, just like Paderborn. Crucially however, all three of those teams stayed in the Premier League in their first season back, which will surely elude the German club.
A more apt comparison then, might be turn of the century Charlton. Although they never achieved consecutive promotions, they did rise from the third tier to the Premier League in the 1990s following a spell in the wilderness during which they had to play home games at Selhurst Park. Famously, Alan Curbishley’s Charlton were relegated after their first crack at the Premier League in 1998-99, but bounced back immediately and established themselves in the top tier thereafter. A fine example for Paderborn to follow.
League position: 17th
Stadium & Capacity: Weser Stadion (42,358)
With a squad on paper that looks too good to go down, Bremen are in big trouble and serious questions are being asked of manager Florian Kohfeldt. Bremen were well fancied before the season began, but will resume play in a relegation battle.
Bremen were one of the league’s most competitive outfits in the 2000s, winning a league and cup double in 2004 and reaching the last ever Uefa Cup final in 2009. The double-winning team featured players such as Christian Schulz, Johan Micoud, Ivan Klasnic and Brazilian striker Ailton, while towards the end of the decade Bremen had Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Claudio Pizarro and playmaker Diego.
Premier League Equivalent: Newcastle United (2008-09)
Newcastle fans would love to reminisce on success as recent as Bremen’s, but are nevertheless the ultimate warning for clubs who think they are too big to go down. Like Bremen, Newcastle had a richly talented playing squad in the early years of the century that was slowly drained until there was not much left. Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear and Alan Shearer were all sub-standard managers, and it cost Newcastle relegation. Bremen could go the same way.
League position: 16th
Stadium & Capacity: Merkur Spiel-Arena (54,600)
Uwe Rosler’s team finished 10th in the Bundesliga last season following promotion, but have found things harder this time around. Dusseldorf’s rise from the fourth tier in 2004 has been steady, and they are not big spenders despite attracting home attendances of more than 50,000.
Premier League Equivalent: Watford (2016-17)
Lutz Pfannenstiel is the brains behind the scouting operation at Dusseldorf, and they often seek left-field solutions such as loaning players from bigger clubs rather than buying their own. Which sounds an awful lot like Watford’s operating model. This is a more difficult second season back in the top flight, just as it was for Watford when they stayed up by finishing 17th.
League position: 15th
Stadium & Capacity: Opel Arena (33,305)
Jurgen Klopp’s former team have been a stable mid-table Bundesliga side for more than a decade now, although slowly but surely standards have slipped. After finishes of fifth in 2011, seventh in 2014 and sixth in 2016, Mainz’s last three finishes have been 15th, 14th and 12th. Mainz regularly sell their best players and then try to rebuild with the funds raised. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Loris Karius, Shinji Okazaki, Jhon Cordba, Jonas Lossl, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Abdou Diallo have all departed since 2014.
Premier League Equivalent: Southampton (2017-18)
Mainz have not sold the same calibre of player as Southampton, but there are clear similarities in the difficulty both clubs face. Like Mainz, Southampton were challenging for European places year in, year out when their recruitment was spot on but have fallen away since. Southampton started to lose their way in 2017-18 when neither the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino nor Mark Hughes fitted the club’s identity.
League position: 14th
Stadium & Capacity: Augsburg Arena (30,660)
One of the least glamorous Bundesliga teams, Augsburg are exactly where you expect them to be. Since promotion in 2011, they have never finished higher than eighth nor lower than 15th. They have a reputation for playing safety-first football, defending deep and trying to hurt opponents with a high number of long balls and crosses. They have added more flair this season with the arrival of Ruben Vargas.
Premier League Equivalent: Burnley (2019-20)
Burnley are a good few places higher in the Premier League but the comparison is irresistible: meagre resources, geographic proximity to giants (Augsburg is near Munich) and a reputation for maximising their potential.
League position: 13th
Stadium & Capacity: Olympiastadion (74,649)
The German capital’s lack of footballing success is a curious tale, with Hertha considered a laughing stock for many years. However, they have new money and are trying to make themselves a force with Jurgen Klinsmann in the dugout. They spent around £65 million in the January window when they were strongly linked with a move for Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka. Still in 13th, Hertha have some way to go before they are considered serious challengers.
Premier League Equivalent: Manchester City (2007-08)
Playing in a former athletics stadium? Tick. Spending significant sums on new players? Tick. A big name manager who perhaps lacks substance? Tick.
Unfortunately for Hertha, we fancy their project might bear more resemblance to the Thaksin Shinawatra era at Manchester City rather than the trophy-filled years under Sheikh Mansour’s ownership. They might get an Elano or Jo out of it though, players who subsequently become cult heroes.
League position: 12th
Stadium & Capacity: Commerzbank-Arena (51,500)
One of the most attractive and expansive teams in the Bundesliga last season, Frankfurt sold strikers Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller after reaching the last four of the Europa League. They were a penalty shootout away from reaching the final, beaten on spot-kicks by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Replacing those goals has proved difficult, but they are considered a well run club with a keen eye for talent identification.
Premier League Equivalent: Tottenham Hotspur (Late 2000s)
A team everyone enjoys watching, but possibly too open to compete for the biggest prizes. They have also suffered from their best players being poached, something Spurs were subjected to when Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov moved to Manchester United.
League position: 11th
Stadium & Capacity: Stadion An der Alten Försterei (22,012)
Sit above their city rivals Hertha in the Bundesliga table, and have punched well above their weight in their first season back in the top flight. As the name suggests, Union are also one of the most democratic, fan-led clubs in German football.
Premier League Equivalent: Crystal Palace (Any season)
It is difficult to find a Premier League equivalent for a fanbase so focused on civic participation and activism, but for a loud atmosphere and a rebellious streak we have to go for Crystal Palace. Another club in their nation’s capital who revel in underdog status.
League position: 10th
Stadium & Capacity: RheinEnergieStadion (49,968)
One of Germany’s most historic clubs with a vibrant fanbase – they caused an almighty racket at the Emirates in the Europa League a few seasons ago – Cologne have bounced between Germany’s top two divisions over the last 10 to 15 years. They should be safe from relegation this season though, and had won three of their last four league games before the sport’s suspension.
Premier League Equivalent: Fulham (Mid 2000s)
Cologne hold a church service before their first home game of every season and have a live goat as their mascot. Fulham have Anne Boleyn’s former family home and the most charming ground in the country. A club to follow if you enjoy a sense of tradition. Craven Cottage is a tad quieter, though.
League position: 9th
Stadium & Capacity: Rhein-Neckar-Arena (30,150)
A thrilling story or an affront to everything German football stands for? The town of Hoffenheim has a population of little more than 3,000, yet thanks to the investment of wealthy benefactors have reached the Champions League. Software tycoon Dietmar Hopp owns the club, and there is no fan involvement. Julian Nagelsmann earned his stripes as an outstanding young coach at Hoffenheim, while Roberto Firmino and Joelinton have been sold for huge profits.
Premier League equivalent: Bournemouth (2015-present)
Bournemouth have not scaled the same heights, but like Hoffenheim have no business being in the top flight based on attendances, history and reputation. Some fine coaching and plenty of spending has got them there.
League position: 8th
Stadium & Capacity: Schwarzwald-Stadion (24,000)
Germany manager Joachim Low is the club’s all-time record goalscorer, and despite the club’s small-town status they have enjoyed European football in two of the last six campaigns.
Premier League equivalent: Bolton or Blackburn in the mid-to-late 2000s
A club that starts every season with the aim of staying in the top flight, but rarely ends up in trouble and enjoys the odd venture into the top seven.
League position: 7th
Stadium & Capacity: Volkswagen Arena (30,000)
The 2009 Bundesliga champions have fallen below expectations this season, and are another club with a distinctive history. They were formed by Volkswagen workers just after the war and the company still owns the club. Steve McClaren had an ill-fated spell as manager and Wolfsburg were the club who sold Kevin De Bruyne back to English football when he moved to Manchester City in 2015.
Premier League equivalent: Modern Wolves
Their nickname are the Wolves, so this one is an easy choice. In fact, travelling Wolves fans have been known to display a flag celebrating the friendship between the two clubs.
League position: 6th
Champions League regulars and habitual title challengers in the century’s early years – they finished 2nd three times in five seasons between 2005 and 2010 . Manuel Neuer and Mesut Ozil’s former club are said to have been hit particularly hard financially by the coronavirus crisis. Finished second again under Domenico Tedesco in 2018, but have struggled since his departure. Were in rotten form before the season was suspended with just two goals in seven games.
Premier League equivalent: Liverpool (2010-13)
A huge club with fervent working-class support, but blighted by inconsistency and money trouble after several near misses.
League position: 5th
Stadium & Capacity: BayArena (30,210)
The 2002 Champions League runners-up have some outstanding young attackers such as Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz, but are still waiting for a first Bundesliga title. They finished fourth last season and are challenging for a similar finish this under former Ajax manager Peter Bosz.
Premier League equivalent: Post Emirates-move Arsenal (2006-11)
Challenging for Champions League qualification while playing exuberant attacking football, held back by defensive frailties? Yes, it has to be Project Youth-era Arsenal.
League position: 4th
Stadium & Capacity: Borussia-Park (59,724)
‘Gladbach were once the dominant force of German football in the 1970s, and are re-emerging under Marco Rose as one of the most fluent attacking teams in the Bundesliga. Young winger Marcus Thuram, son of legendary French defender Lillian, is one to watch.
Premier League equivalent: Turn of the century Leeds United (without the financial cliff edge)
Hoping to restore former glories with an attacking style that is winning over neutrals – David O’Leary’s Leeds team that reached the Champions League semi-finals and pushed Manchester United and Arsenal domestically springs to mind.
League position: 3rd
Stadium & Capacity Red Bull Arena (41,939)
As Tottenham fans will attest, Leipzig are a wonderfully rounded team who were poised to compete domestically and in Europe. Timo Werner is European football’s most wanted striker, while Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté are potentially France’s future central defensive partnership. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann will have his pick of clubs over the next decade.
Premier League equivalent: Jose Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea
Universally despised, new money and the outstanding coach of his generation – the parallels to Chelsea in the early days of the Roman Abramovich are uncanny. Leipzig just need the titles to follow.
League position: 2nd
Stadium & Capacity: Westfalenstadion (81,365)
Fans flock from across Europe to watch Dortmund play at the Westfalenstadion, savouring the noise, colour and entertaining football. Under Lucien Favre, Dortmund rarely disappoint for the neutral. They are the second-highest scorers in the league but have conceded the most of any team in the top five. Across January and February they scored 22 in five league games, led by Jadon Sancho and the freakishly good Erling Haaland. How long will they keep the pair?
Premier League equivalent: Liverpool 2017-18
Before Virgil van Dijk and Alisson arrived, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were also a thrill-a-minute but accident prone.
League position: 1st
Stadium & Capacity: Allianz Arena (75,000)
Germany’s most successful team gave others a head-start this season with four league defeats in their opening 13 games, but have got their act together under Hansi Flick. Premier League fans will be familiar with the elegant destruction dished out by their attack, after Bayern put 10 past Tottenham and Chelsea on two Champions League visits to London. Robert Lewandowski has enjoyed a resurgence, Thiago is the most dexterous midfielder in the world and Serge Gnabry outstanding.
Premier League equivalent: Mid-1990s Manchester United
United made a habit of reeling teams in after slow starts in the 1990s – Sir Alex Ferguson was fond of saying that title races started in February – and Bayern look like doing the same this year.