The 10 German soccer teams you should know about
German soccer has a rich history of providing the world with some of the greatest players to step foot on to the field. At an international level — or a club level, both domestically and in Europe — German soccer has been at the heart of some of the sport’s most defining and influential moments.
Here are the top 10 German soccer teams you need to know about.
10. Hertha Berlin
Nickname: The Old Lady
Hertha were one of the founding members of the German Football Association in 1900 and won two Championships in the early 1930s. Fans of the club have had a roller coaster of emotions following this squad, which dropped down to the fourth tier of German soccer in the mid 1960s, finished runners-up in the Bundesliga less than 10 years later, and played in the Champions League in 2000.
9. Eintracht Frankfurt
Nickname: The Eagles
The Eagles have spent the last 51 years in Germany’s top division, making them the seventh longest participating club in the top league. They were crowned champions in 1959 and are five-time German Cup winners, most recently in 2018.
Eintracht Frankfurt also made the 1960 European Cup final but lost an epic, 7-3, to Real Madrid in Scotland.
8. VFB Stuttgart
Nickname: The Reds
Stuttgart are one of Germany’s most successful clubs, having won the league five times — most recently in 2006-07.
Their best period came in the 1950s however, when they won two Bundesliga titles and two German Cups. The team are in a rebuilding process after relegations in 2016 and 2019, but they keep bouncing back.
7. SV Werder Bremen
Nickname: The River Islanders
League: Bundesliga 2
Bremen were relegated last season, but they share the record for most seasons played in the Bundesliga along with Bayern Munich. The club may be struggling now, but they’re four-time German champions and six-time German Cup winners.
In 2003-04, they did the league and cup double, and were regularly in the top half in the 2000s.
6. FC Koln
Nickname: The Billy Goats
FC Koln are two-time Bundesliga champions (1964 and 1978) and are back in the top flight after being relegated in 2018. Known as the Billy Goats, their mascot is a goat named Hennes after their veteran player and manager Hennes Weisweiler.
The club are currently on Hennes IX, after Hennes VIII was retired due to old age in 2019.
Four-time winners of the German Cup, Koln have struggled in recent years to relive their success of the late 1970s.
5. RB Leipzig
Nickname: The Red Bulls
Leipzig are the most controversial team in Germany, having only been founded in 2009 by the Red Bull company.
The brand purchased the club SSV Markranstadt, who were in the fifth tier of German soccer, and within just eight years had climbed up the divisions and finished runners-up in the Bundesliga.
In the 2019-20 season, just over a decade since they were formed, RB Leipzig made the semi-finals of the Champions League, only to lose 3-0 to PSG.
4. Borussia Monchengladbach
Nickname: The Colts
Monchengladbach dominated the domestic scene in the 1970s, as they won five Bundesliga crowns and lifted the German Cup. Their efforts were reflected in Europe as well, as they made the final of the European Cup in 1977, and either side of that won two UEFA Cups and made another two finals.
Virkus: "The most honest feedback that players can get is from the fans - that has been missing for almost two years. I can't wait for us to have even more than 10,000 fans in the stadium. I think it really gives the team a push."#DieFohlen pic.twitter.com/yBXt0Hw9LV— Gladbach (@borussia_en) February 15, 2022
A period of decline followed, including relegation, but a new stadium and a revival has seen the Colts return to the top half of the table.
3. FC Schalke 04
Nickname: The Royal Blues
League: Bundesliga 2
Schalke has 158,000 members as of 2021, making it the third-largest club in the world in terms of membership. This is despite most people not being alive when the club had most of its success, which came in the 1930s and 40s.
The Royal Blues are seven-time German champions and five-time German Cup winners, with their most recent cup success in 2011 finishing with a thrilling 5-0 win in the final over MSV Duisburg.
2. Borussia Dortmund
Nickname: The Black and Yellows
Dortmund fans are most well-known for creating the "Yellow Wall" across the stadium ahead of major domestic and European games, and in recent years Dortmund have become one of Germany’s most successful teams.
They’re eight-time Bundesliga winners and five-time German Cup winners, as well as the place Jurgen Klopp launched his career. The now-Liverpool coach won two Championships and a Cup with Dortmund and led them to a Champions League final, as the club reveled in a return to prominence.
1. Bayern Munich
Nickname: The Bavarians
Munich are by far Germany’s biggest and most successful club, and one of Europe’s most successful teams as well.
They’ve won a record 31 national titles, including nine Bundesliga crowns on the spin since 2013. Throw in 20 German Cups and six European Cups, and they have shown their dominance on the biggest stages.
They have completed the seasonal treble twice and remain one of the strongest teams in the world.