Bundesliga restart: what American fans need to know

One of the biggest oddities about the age of COVID-19 has been the lack of sports. Sports have become a blessing that people around the world may have taken for granted. However, we may be approaching the end of the dark days of no sport as the German soccer league, the Bundesliga, makes its return this weekend. If you’re looking for a better understanding of the league as we get back to normality, here are the teams to become familiar with and what American franchises they can be compared to.

Bayern Munich – American comparison: Every Boston Team, Alabama Football and the New YorkYankees joined into one

Bayern are the most recognizable, and most hated, German side. Boasting 29 German titles, this team has the history to dwarf any American team, but they aren’t a dinosaur. No, if anything Bayern have become more dominant as the years have gone on. Bayern have hoisted the last 7 Bundesliga titles, but this year, they look more human than ever as 5 teams sit within three games of the giants. Let’s take a look at the challengers.

Borussia Dortmund Boston Red Sox in the early 2000s, pre World Series

Dortmund is a team with plenty of history and a great rivalry with Munich. Dortmund is the closest challenger to Bayern and they are most prestigious challenger for the crown. Dortmund boasts young stars in Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, both under the age of 21, but they are surrounded by experience. Dortmund has been the challenger for Bayern for years and they are more desperate than anyone to knock off their rivals.

RB Leipzig- Las Vegas Golden Knights. Also, they stole some strategy from the Houston Astros and cheat now, its complicated

The new kids on the block, Leipzig, are newcomers to the Bundesliga. They have only been in the league for four years, but they have announced their presence as this is their second title charge in that time. There is still plenty of uncertainty with this club but they look to be going in the right direction and are, like Dortmund, real challengers for the future if they continue to build as they have been. They also have one of the top young Americans in the game in Tyler Adams, so there is national pride on the line. The downside is their ownership is controversial and many Bundesliga fans absolutely hate everything this club stands for, but if you are an Astros or Patriots fan that should only encourage you to root for these guys.

Borussia MonchengladbachToronto Raptors

Monchengladbach may be the hardest team to root for due to their name, but this is the underdog of this 5 top group. The team doesn’t have a star, just a lot of role players who play well together. Monchengladbach don’t boast recent success with their last title coming in 1977, but the team has won five titles. Monchengladbach are a prime American sports story waiting to happen, they just need to hit the ground running following the restart and the best part… they get one more shot against Bayern Munich before the season is done.

Bayer Leverkusen- 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder, don’t get too attached

Leverkusen are the young guns of the top 5. This team has been sitting near the top of the table for the last couple of seasons, but this is perhaps their first true shot at sealing the deal. Leverkusen may also have a short championship window as they don’t have the finances to keep the team together so this may be their best chance in quite a while.

FC Schalke 04 – Last Year’s Boston Celtics

This team has been a let down this season. Schalke are arguably the 3rd best team talent wise in the league, but they have struggled to put it together this year. Schalke are likely just hoping to qualify for a European competition come next season but Schalke fans are likely just looking to wrap up this season up ASAP. They also have another young American star in Weston McKennie.

Wolfsburg- Oklahoma City Thunder

Wolfsburg was once considered the team to fear for the future, but a couple poor moves and poor chemistry has seen the team fall apart and now they are working to get back to their former heights. Wolfsburg are fighting to grab a spot in European competition next season. This means they will be fighting Schalke for the final spot. This is a team built on their chemistry which makes them fun to watch and easy to love.

SC Freiburg- Minnesota Timberwolves but in an alternate reality where they’re actually good

Freiburg were favored to finish at the bottom of the table in the preseason, but they have proven that they can compete with the very best this season. The team is led by the two headed attack of Nils Petersen and Gian-Luca Waldschmidt. Both have had break out seasons leading the team of solid role players to a shot at European soccer next year. This is a great underdog story to root for as they fight for the sixth spot.

Hoffenheim- Tennessee Titans prior to this season

This team has been a staple of the Bundesliga for many years but they are never a top tier group. A group always falling in the middle of the standings Hoffenheim is never flashy but they get points where they should. Hoffenheim is yet another team that will be in the fight for European soccer and they sit just a half game behind Schalke.

FC Koln- Los Angeles Rams

Koln has a strong core but little substance outside of their stars. Koln spent last season in the second tier of German football but they came back showing their improvement and have looked solid this season. They likely don’t have the depth to make a run at Europe but they are also well above the relegation zone so they aren’t playing for much at this point in the season.

Union Berlin- The Buffalo Bills post playoff drought

Remember when the Bills ended their playoff drought and then were terrible the next season? That’s likely what Berlin are this season. A team no one expected to be great and many said would finish bottom of the league, this team has had some really surprising results this season. Next year will be tough for the club but they will happily take their current spot in the table.

Eintracht Frankfurt- Arizona Cardinals

Frankfurt has been a member of the Bundesliga for a long time but they never blow anyone away or finish high. Frankfurt are a dark horse to be sent down to the 2nd division but they have probably done enough to avoid that fate for this season.

Hertha Berlin- New York Giants, but Eli Manning’s corpse is now their starting running back

Hertha Berlin somehow isn’t sitting at the bottom of the table. This team was once the dominant force in their city but now another team has shot passed them and their not even the best team in their own town. Berlin sit 2 games outside of the relegation zone and may have a fight on their hand if they can’t scrape some points on their hands.

Augsburg- Winnipeg Jets

You know that team that everyone always forgets exists? That’s Augsburg. This team always finishes near the bottom of the standings but are never bad enough to get sent down to the second division. Augsburg doesn’t have any great players but they play well together and are probably going to spend another season in the top flight of German soccer.

FC Mainz- Winnipeg Jets

See above, but they’re worse.

Fortuna Dusseldorf- Sacremento Kings, I don’t need to roast them, they’re the Kings

Dusseldorf are the first of the teams sitting in the relegation zone and this was expected in the preseason. The team are going to need to pull it together to avoid relegation, but its doable. America’s first choice goalkeeper is also the keeper for Dusseldorf, so that’s a reason to root for them, but this will be an uphill climb for the club.

Werder Bremen- Oakland Athletics, but Money Ball didn’t work

Werder Bremen are an easy team to root for. They’ve always been underdogs and their much smaller than most of their competition. This team, unfortunately, hasn’t worked out, but there is still time in the season for them to claw their way back into the table. The best part? They also have one of America’s future stars in Josh Sargent.

Paderborn- 0-16 Cleveland Browns, but with me at QB

Unfortunately for Paderborn, they were never destined to be a top team in the Bundesliga. This team never looked up to their competition. They still could get out of the relegation zone, but that would be a minor miracle. The team simply doesn’t have the depth or the talent to run in Germany’s top division.

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