The Bundesliga – Germany’s Top Football Division
Few compare to the Bundesliga for fan focus and quality. Given the success of the German national team over the years, it comes as no surprise to see the country’s top division being highly regarded and home to some of the world’s best sides.
A Modern Competition Steeped in German Tradition
The introduction of the new top division in 1963 marked a revolution in domestic football. Before this, most German football was contested between amateur, regional teams in cup competitions. Although one of the youngest major European leagues, it has produced some of the most exceptional talent and most notable names ever to play the game.
More than fifty different teams have contested the league since inception, with Bayern Munich having emerged as the most dominant side of all. However, they are not without competition and the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart all have multiple league wins on their rolls of honour.
A Treat for Football Fans
While other leagues across Europe are known for wealth, flair and quality, the league brings together all that along with a firm focus on football fans. Various measures come together to make supporters a priority, and this has led to the German top flight’s establishment as the best-supported football league in the world.
Key to this is the 50+1 rule. According to these regulations, members must have majority ownership of every club in the league. There are historical exceptions, such as Bayer Leverkusen and VFL Wolfsburg, who were founded as employee teams for Bayer AG and Volkswagen respectively. However, German football fans generally have a closer relationship with their club than anywhere else in Europe’s top leagues.
Passion is never in short supply at games. From the famous Yellow Wall at the Westfalenstadion, home of Borussia Dortmund, to the strong international support of Bayern Munich, Germany’s most successful club, football fans clearly come first.
European Qualification and the Battle to Beat the Drop
Eighteen teams contest the league each season, with the title and European qualification at stake at the top of the table, and the battle to avoid relegation to the second. Bundesliga. Technically, the German second division forms part of the same competition. Anything below that sees reversion to the regional format that characterised German football before the league’s formation.
Four teams enter the Champions League, all of whom qualify directly for the group stage following a 2018 competition revamp. Germany also provides three entrants in the Europa League, although only two entries stem from their league position, with the third allocated to the winner of the DFB-Pokal.
The bottom two teams at the end of each season suffer automatic relegation to the 2. Bundesliga. The sixteenth-place finishers then play off with the second division’s third-place team for survival or promotion respectively.
While the league is susceptible to periods of extended dominance, notably by Bayern Munich, it remains one of the most entertaining leagues in Europe thanks to a combination of young players, international stars and world-class tactics and strategies.