Bundesliga actually, unlike the other major European league, refers to the term for the top and second tier of the German football league system. They are called by numbers to distinguish the top flight one, Bundesliga 1 or simply Bundesliga, and Bundesliga 2 for the division below. These competitions have been administered by German Football League (DFL) since 2000. In the top flight, despite being famous for its dull rivalry with the unshakable domination of Bayern Munich in the recent years, Bundesliga is ranked on the top three in UEFA Coefficient list in 2021. In addition, the football club management in this top tier league has been widely appreciated and become the role model for other leagues due to its strict rules on finance, fans-based ownership as well as youth academy development. No wonder there has been barely any clubs in Germany violating Financial Fair Play or takeover issues by giant foreign companies, except with meticulous and thorough involvement accordingly with the regulations as RB Lepizig does.
This league itself is the youngest compared to Premier League, La Liga, Italian Serie A or even French Ligue 1. Founded in 1963, DFB capitalised the need for more centralised professional league to be able to compete better in the continental tournament and surely guaranteed the quality of the national team. One of the events which had been the catalyst of Bundesliga establishment was Germany’s poor campaign in World Cup 1962 when they were knocked out by Yugoslavia at the quarter finals. Moreover, Die Mannschaft’s boss’s suggestion to improve the national league system also triggered DFB to do so. Previously, the German leagues were held in a regional-based system with mostly semi-pro clubs as the contestants. It was the right decision for Germany as they immediately benefited from the rise of young stars including Franz Beckenbauer who helped the team thrive in World Cup 1966 onwards.
German Bundesliga Details
Bundesliga begins their new season every August and finishes in May with four to six weeks off for the winter break. The number of contestants has always been fairly the same, 18 teams, except the first two seasons, in 1963/64 and 1964/65 with only 16 clubs and 20 clubs for post Germany reunification in the 1991/92 season. At that time, DFB decided to accommodate two East Germany-based sides, Dynamo Dresden and Hansa Rostock. Yet, the following season, the participants returned to the normal 18 clubs.
The format of this league is not exactly different from any other European major leagues with a double round robin format. The slight changes have been made mainly in the relegation system. Currently, there are three teams at the bottom of the table going down to Bundesliga 2, two are automatically relegated while the one sitting on the sixteenth shall face off the team sitting on the third of second tier in a promotion/relegation play-off. Before 2008/09, there were four automatic relegated teams in 1992, three teams between 1993 and 2007 plus 1975 to 1981 and two teams for direct relegation in 1964 to 1974. The current system had been used before from 1981 to 1991.
Throughout the history, Bayern Munich is still the dominant side with 30 titles in hand, and the record holder for nine consecutive league winners since 2012/13. It could go on even more considering their consistency. Nevertheless, in spite of the dull predictable results in the past few seasons, Bundesliga still remains attractive with the average of 2 million TV viewers per game. The attendance at the stadiums is fairly high as well with more than 40,000 fans in each game. It is still higher than Premier League with around 36,000 people and La Liga with only 27,000 spectators watching the games live.
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Historic Bundesliga Moments
There have not been many memorable moments in Bundesliga since Bayern Munich has been too strong to beat. However, in several seasons, this top flight league did show intense rivalry on the top or a tight title race.
The first iconic moments were between 1969 and 1977 when Bayern were not the only dominating sides as Die Roeten had been heavily involved in a contention with Borussia M’Gladbach. It was more like Barcelona and Real Madrid at that time. Bayern won the league in 1969 and hattrick from 1972 to 1974, while Gladbach enjoyed their golden spells in 1970 and 1971 plus three consecutive victory between 1975 and 1977.
The next historic moment was in 1994/95 season when Borussia Dortmund under Ottmar Hizfield rose to be the new Bundesliga giant. They won their first league trophy after exceeding Bayern in a tight title race. Andreas Moeller and Co defended their title in the following season plus snatching their first Champions League title in 1997. Then, in 1998, an unlikely winner emerged when the newly promoted side Kaiserslautern clinched the silverware with Otto Rehhagel in charge of the team. After that, about ten years later, another dark horse won the league. Wolfsburg surprisingly meddled Bayern’s domination in 2008/09 season. The former Bayern boss who was sacked in the previous season, Felix Magath, led Edin Dzeko and Co to win their first ever Bundesliga title. Last but not least, the iconic moments in German top flight took place just before the Bavarian total domination began. It was Jurgen Klopp and his Borussia Dortmund sealed a back-to-back triumph in 2010/11 and 2011/12. Meanwhile, the historic moments related to Bayern Munich were in 2013 and 2020 when they were treble winners under Jupp Heynckes and Hans Flick.