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A Complete Guide to the German Bundesliga

German Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is the top tier football league in Germany. It is amongst the highest-ranking leagues in Europe and features many iconic teams that have huge followings around the world. The league has such a huge appeal not only for its competitiveness but also because many world class footballers play in German clubs and there is a culture of using youth players.


The history of the German Bundesliga is quite a turbulent one. Prior to the establishment of a single league, there were hundreds of local athletic sports clubs that had football teams who competed in the regional Oberligen. The winners of these regional tournaments played in a series of playoff matches to determine which club became the national champion.

Most German football teams were smaller parts of athletic sports clubs, and the players were not paid for playing football. This structure was kept because the German football association, the DFB, wanted to allow smaller clubs take on local players and to promote the sport without turning it into a business.

By 1932, there were more than one million registered football players in the country. Prior to the outbreak of the war, the Oberligen was restructured into the Gauliga. This reduced the number of athletic sports clubs participating in the top flight from 600 to 170. This league was created so that instead of connecting all the smaller leagues into one big league, only the top teams in each region would compete in the first flight, and it was successful.

After the war, Germany was split into West Germany and East Germany, and the Oberliga was reintroduced in the west a few years later. The West Germans called for a professional league in the country, as more local players were being bought by foreign countries and leaving, diminishing the strength of the league. In the East, the DS-Oberliga was formed in 1949, comprising 14 local teams that also played at an amateur level.

Despite the lack of professionalism and the increasing number of talent leaving the country, West Germany still managed to win a World Cup in 1954, as an “amateur” team. This was the first and only time a non-professional team won the World Cup. The West German team reached a fourth place finish in the World Cup in the following edition of the competition, but crashed out in the quarterfinals in 1962.

The same day, the governments bowed to the pressure by football fans and created the German Bundesliga, which was launched in 1963.

The league was an instant success, bringing in a larger number of spectators and it encouraged a greater number of German players to remain playing in Germany. Teams such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Hamburger SV, amongst others, started emerging as the top teams in West Germany.

Despite Bayern Munich winning the European Cup in three successive years from 1973 to 76, and the emergence of some legendary German players, there were bribery and financial scandals in the league. This continued through to the 1980s, and with the appearance of far-right football hooligans, interest in the sport declined.

In the 90s, East and West Germany were reunited, and the two leagues were merged together to create the German Bundesliga. A third World Cup win in 1990 and the reunification won back the fans who had lost interest in the 1980s, and the standard of football became extremely high.

Nowadays, Germany is one of the big football nations in Europe, and there are top players from all across the world playing in the league.

Season Structure

There are 18 teams that play in the Bundesliga. The season starts in August and ends in May, with the teams playing every other team in the league twice, once home and once away. A total of 36 matches are played across the season, with each team playing 34. The league follows the standard points system in football, where a team is awarded 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and no points for a loss. These points are counted in the league standings and at the end of the season, the team with the most points is declared the Bundesliga champions.

The teams that finish in the top four will qualify for Champions League football the next season, the teams placing 5th and 6th qualify for the Europa League, and the team that finishes in 7th place qualifies for the Europa Conference League.

At the bottom of the table, the 17th and 18th place are relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, the second tier of league football in Germany. The team that placed 16th has to play in a relegation playoffs, so they still have a chance of holding a place in the following season’s Bundesliga.

Fun Facts

The Bundesliga has strict rules on club ownership, favouring the local club members against the bigger corporations who may own larger stakes in clubs. There is a regulation called the 50+1 rule, where a single entity is not allowed to own more than 50% of the stakes in a club. Clubs must operate under tight financial budgets, and players have salary caps to avoid teams with larger budgets pricing out the smaller ones. The only clubs in Germany that are owned by corporations are Bayer Leverkusen, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and VFL Wolfsburg. These historical clubs were created by corporations, or at least funded by corporations when they were created.

RB Leipzig is an exception to this previous rule, as the team was created by Red Bull and most club members are either employees or in other ways affiliated with the company. RB Leipzig was created in 2009, when Red Bull bought the football licensing rights from a 5th tier semi-professional football team called SSV Markranstadt. The team was rebranded and received financial backing, within the regulations, and by 2016, they were playing in the Bundesliga. At first they were extremely unpopular, as there was already a Leipzig based football team called FC Lokomotiv Leipzig, and the takeover by the Austrian company, Red Bull, was seen as a foreign company using loopholes to create their football team. The rules did not allow the team to be called Red Bull Leipzig, so they named the team Rasenballsport Leipzig, abbreviated to RB Leipzig, and with a logo that featured red bulls. Despite this, the team built their squad fairly and did not spend excessive amounts of money on their rise to the Bundesliga. RB Leipzig is now amongst the top teams in the league, and their attractive pressing football as well as use of youth players has slowly won the team its own fan base in Germany.

Popular Bets

Match Result

Bettors can place money on a team to win in a game or on the game to end in a draw with match result bets. This is a three way bet, where there will be odds offered for either team to win, or for a draw.


Handicap bets can be used either to increase the odds of betting on a team, or to reduce the risk of betting on a team. There will be multiple handicaps available, negative handicaps for the favourites and positive handicaps for the underdogs. The chosen handicap is applied to the score line at the end of the game and if the backed team is the winner, then the bet wins.

Goal Totals

Goal totals are bets on how many goals will be scored in a match. This type of bet uses the over/under format, where there will be multiple betting lines and punters need to pick one and bet on whether the game will end with over or under the number of goals defined by the line.

Game Props

Game props = relate to more detailed aspects of a game, such as will a team score in both halves, will one team open the scoring, will one team keep a clean sheet, will a certain player score during the game, and so on.

Live Bets

Live bets will be available throughout a match, and these will be offered with live odds. In addition to the above bets, they include bets such as which team will score next, will a team win the ongoing half, and many more.

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