Betting on the Bundesliga: Beginner’s Guide

Logo_BundesligaThe Bundesliga is the name given to the top division in German professional football. Though ‘Bundesliga’ translates to ‘National League’ and there are leagues in other sports that go by the same name, it is generally accepted that when the sport isn’t mentioned, one is talking about football.

In terms of popularity among European leagues, the Bundesliga comes behind the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain, and is about equal with Serie A in Italy, though Italian soccer is going through a slump in recent in years and the performance of German teams in European competition has been far better than their Italian counterparts of late.

The Bundesliga is also extremely popular with bettors, and all of the major sportsbooks now cover every match in detail.

The league has long been dominated by Germany’s most famous club Bayern Munich, who have won 22 titles since the league’s formation in 1963. Bayern have gone on to win the European Cup four times, though only once in the Champions League era. Their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United 1998 when leading 1-0 after 90 minutes is regarded as one of the most memorable matches in European football history.

Bundesliga Format

The Bundesliga has been in existence since 1963, when it was the national league of the then West Germany. In 1991, after German re-unification, the football federation of East Germany was merged with West Germany’s DFB, and East German teams were seeded throughout the West German structure, with the Bundesliga expanding from 18 to 20 teams for the 1991-1992 season to accommodate Dynamo Dresden and Hansa Rostock from the East German league.

The Bundesliga has since contracted to an 18 team league, with each team playing home and away ties against all other teams, for a total of 34 matches in a season. The season starts in August and ends in May, with a 6 week Winter break. Games are traditionally played on Saturday afternoons with two games on a Sunday evening. The most recent national TV deal has seen one game moved to Friday evening.

Three points are awarded for a victory, with one for a draw and none for a loss. Germany was one of the last football leagues to adopt the ‘three points for a win’ system, only incorporating it in the mid 1990s, while other leagues like the English First Division had been using the system since the early 80s.

The bottom two teams at the end of the season are relegated to the 2. Bundesliga which is the second division in Germany, with the top two 2. Bundesliga being promoted. In addition, the team which finishes third from bottom plays a home and away tie against the team which finishes third in the 2. Bundesliga, with the victorious team being awarded a place in the Bundesliga for the following season. Should teams finish equal on points at the end of the season, the tie is broken firstly by goal difference (goals scored – goals allowed), and then by total goals scored if goal difference is equal.

At the top end of the table, teams which finish in the top three are awarded automatic qualification for the group stages of the Champions League, with the fourth place team being awarded a place in the final qualifying round, where a victory in a two-legged game against another European team will see them qualify for the group stages of the competition. Should the team lose in the qualifying round, they are automatically entered into the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Bundesliga Sponsorship and Media Coverage

While not having the international appeal of the English Premier League or Spain’s La Liga, the Bundesliga does get reasonable coverage outside of Sky Germany’s domestic TV offering, with pay TV operators around the world showing a couple of live matches per week in Europe and further afield in countries like Australia.

In the UK, matches are shown on ESPN. As with the English Premier League, revenue from TV is spread evenly among the teams of the Bundesliga and so promotion from the 2. Bundesliga provides a huge financial boost.

Shirt sponsors in the Bundesliga are less weighted towards global brands than in England, with Bayern Munich being sponsored by Deutsch Telekom under the T-Mobile brand. Several of the top clubs in the Bundesliga are publicly traded companies, and in general German teams have a healthier financial status than their English counterparts.

German football has the highest attendance of any league in Europe due in part to relatively cheap ticket prices and the presence of standing room terraces at many grounds.

Recent Bundesliga History

dante-bayernIn the last 20 years, Bayern Munich have dominated the Bundesliga, winning 12 titles and not having finished worse than fourth, with Borussia Dortmund their closest rivals on five titles.

The Bundesliga is a more open league than others in Europe and there are generally six or seven teams with a legitimate shot at finishing in the top two, including Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen as well as those mentioned above.

German teams tend to do reasonably well in the Champions League, with 2 or 3 teams generally making the round of 16 and most often Bayern Munich featuring in the quarter finals and beyond, though Schalke 04 made it to the semi finals in 2011 but were heavily beaten by Manchester United.

Interesting Facts about the Bundesliga

-The legendary Gerd Muller holds the Bundesliga all-time scoring record with 365 goals.

-Muller also holds the single season record with 40 goals.

-Karl-Heinz Körbel has the most appearances with 602.

-Hans-Jörg Butt currently of Bayern Munich is a goalkeeper, but has 26 goals due to his propensity to take penalty kicks. In 2004 the opposing team scored a goal immediately after Butt had scored before he had the chance to get back to his goal.

-12-0 is the biggest winning margin, which occurred in 1978 when Borussia Monchen-Gladbach beat Borussia Dortmund.

-The Bundesliga’s most expensive player was Javi Martinez who cost Bayern Munich €40m in 2012 when he moved from Stuttgart.