Coronavirus / Europe

The Bundesliga returns: The race to the top

Photo: Earl Gardner

In the final installment of PSP’s Bundesliga series, only four clubs haven’t been covered. These four currently occupy the league’s four Champions League spots and all have hopes of lifting the Bundesliga trophy, the “Meisterschale”. Two of the four clubs are known all around the world, being Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. One looks to soon join in world fame: RB Leipzig. The last looks to reclaim old glory: Borussia Monchengladbach. Before we get into the title race, below are some resources for the return of the Bundesliga tomorrow.

Resources

Weekend schedule and TV Coverage

Bundesliga relegation battle

Bundesliga Europa League positions

Bundesliga without fans

Borussia Monchengladbach (49 points, +19GD)

Starting with the team with the longest name in Germany, you can just call them Gladbach, is yet another German team who doesn’t sport many big name stars. Their biggest names are probably Lars Stindl, who enjoyed a brief summer stint with the German national team and Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Stindl has taken more of a backseat this year though, as the young trio of Breel Embolo, Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea have been leading the line for Gladbach this season. Gladbach is a side that pairs scoring by committee with strong team defense, as evident by their +19 goal difference. They are also the club that has gone viral for placing carboard cut outs of fans in their stadium.

Why to watch: A very young side who has a great experienced goalkeeper and a good defense. It may not be the prettiest, but Gladbach can score goals, they’ve only been shut out 4 times out of 25 in league play. If you’re looking for the next big name striker, there’s a good chance they could be from Gladbach.

RB Leipzig (50 points, +36GD) 

The newest club in this group of 4, RB Leipzig has grown to be one of the most hated in Germany, due to the fact they are owned by Red Bull. Still, Leipzig has been one of the most exciting teams in the Bundesliga this year, cause they score, a lot. Leipzig strung together a streak of 5 straight games scoring 3 or more goals this year in league play, and beat Tottenham 4-0 on aggregate in the Champions League. German striker Timo Werner has risen to stardom under Julian Naglesmann, while Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen have also enjoyed a few good years. We also can’t forget Tyler Adams, who unfortunately has struggled with injuries this year and is looking to get back on the pitch.

Why to watch: One of the most exciting offensive teams in the world before the coronavirus induced pause, it will be interesting to see if RB Leipzig can pick up where they left off. Also being able to see Tyler Adams hopefully help his team in a title race would be a great sight for US Soccer fans.

Borussia Dortmund (51 points, +35GD) 

Every US soccer fan should have heard of Borussia Dortmund by now. It’s the club where Christian Pulisic rose to stardom — and where we now may be seeing the same with 17-year-old American Gio Reyna. To go alongside Reyna, Dortmund also have young superstars Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, who score at will. To compliment their youth, Dortmund also boasts the likes of Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels. The only weak part of Dortmund so far this season has been defense, often having to score 2+ goals a game to draw or win. Dortmund also has strong ties to Liverpool, singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before matches and where Jurgen Klopp tuned his craft.

Why to watch: Some of the best young players on the field at the same time, what more can you ask for? It will be intersting to see if Gio Reyna sees more leauge action, as he was mostly featuring in German cup matches before the break.

Bayern Munich (55 points, +47GD)

If you didn’t already know, Bayern Munich has one of the best offenses in the world, evident by their +47 goal difference. Sporting the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho, Bayern can rack up goals, and fast. Scoring isn’t their only strong suit though, Manuel Neuer has long been considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world. A backline consiting of Joshua Kimmich, David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies, make for a lethal counterattacking team that can get back quickly to defend.

Why to watch: If you needed anymore reasons to watch one of the best teams in the world, Bayern is actually in danger of losing their first Bundesliga title in 8 years. Can they respond to the pressure and hold off Dortmund and Leipzing for the last 9 games?

2 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t say that Bundesliga fans hate RB Leipzig specifically because of Red Bull – they hate them because they are violating (if not legally, at least in spirit) the 50%+1 rule.
    .
    German teams were originally owned by the membership of the non-profit club (think if the Sons of Ben membership owned and played on the team 120+ years ago) which had established rules and gave voting rights to each member on club operations (much like the Sons of Ben vote on board members now). As the league grew, clubs grew larger with thousands of members supporting their team – all of which had the opportunity to vote on major items (like board members of the club) to direct the future of the club.
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    When DFL (their MLS) allowed the teams to start outsourcing their FO and operations, the 50%+1 rule was put in place to ensure that the club members still kept a majority of the voting shares for the club.
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    Bayern Munich, for example, sold 8.33% stakes in the “Bayern Munich AG” (a joint-stock company) to Audi, Allianz and Adidas each respectively, but the remaining 75% belongs to the “Bayern Munich e. V.” and its members.
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    3 teams are exempt from the 50%+1 rule due to how corporations/owners essentially kept the team running for 20+ years (Bayern Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg, and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim).
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    TSG 1899 Hoffenheim is owned by SAP owner Dietmar Hopp – who also now “owns” RP Leipzig.
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    RB Leipzig isn’t exempt from the 50%+1 rule, so to get around it they limited membership to the club that controls the voting rights. So instead of all of the club fans owning 50%+1 of the voting rights, only 17 “members” belong to RB Leipzig’s club – and no one else can join without their approval. These members are all employed or have close ties to Red Bull – essentially cutting the fans out of any major decisions that club members/fans would usually vote on.

    • Thanks Steve! That’s the best explanation I’ve read of Red Bull Leipzig’s ownership status and motivation.

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