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Germany is accomplished as soccer—witness Die Mannschaft, its men’s national team, and the four World Cups it’s won as recently as 2014. It stands to reason that the domestic league would be good as well. The Bundesliga’s appeal goes far beyond Germany, though: Bayern Munich is one of the best club teams in the world featuring a truly international lineup, and a number of other teams have players you recognize from recent World Cups, Euros, and Copa Americas. As a bonus for American fans, some of the U.S.’s best young players are developing in this world-class league.
What is the Bundesliga?
Created in 1963 from a number of regional leagues—partially in response to being knocked out of the 1962 World Cup in the quarters—the Bundesliga houses Germany’s top club teams into one 18-team league. It’s typical of major European leagues, in that each team plays home and away matches against all the other teams in the league, teams get three points for a win and one point for a draw, and the August-through-May season determines the league winner. (There’s no playoff system, though, like other European leagues, there’s a separate elimination cup tournament that runs during the season.)
There’s also a promotion and relegation system: The bottom two teams automatically drop to the second division, replaced by the top two teams in the 2. Bundesliga. The 16th-place team gets to play for its Bundesliga life in a playoff against 2. Bundesliga’s third-place finisher.
Bundesliga live stream: How to watch Bundesliga matches online
This is the last season (for the time being) that Fox will carry the league; you’ll find most of the action on FS1 and FS2 during the year. Fox will carry some higher-profile matches during the season, tending to grab the twice-a-season Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. If you’re looking to watch en Español, Fox Deportes and TUDN carry select games on their networks.
1) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (40% off first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like FS1 and FS2 (where many Bundesliga matches appear), NBCSN for Premier League action, NFL Network, and local channels. (Sling Blue customers in select markets get NBC, where some matches appear; see if yours has it here.) If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from La Liga, Ligue 1 and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, with FS1, FS2, and TUDN for Bundesliga soccer, 10 beIN SPORTS channels, and NBCSN for Premier League action all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list.)
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. FS1 and FS2 (where you’ll see Bundesliga action) are part of the Core package of channels that offer soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels.
- Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
- Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)
Hulu with Live TV includes sports programming among its broad spectrum of offerings, and as a subscriber to the service, you’ll get free access to Hulu’s sizable on-demand library. (Check out the full list of Hulu Live TV channels.)
5) YouTube TV
- Cost: $50 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- YouTube TV devices: Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
- YouTube TV local channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, the CW (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
YouTube TV is a great option for soccer fans, including TNT for Champions League matches, NBC and NBCSN for Premier League matches, and broadcasting partnerships with three MLS teams. (Take a look at the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
Which Bundesliga teams should I know?
Any getting-to-know-the-Bundesliga conversation should start with Bayern Munich, winner of the last seven titles and eight of the last 10. It does it largely by amassing superior talent: Sometimes from Bundesliga rivals, though it’s a truly global team in both the lineup and appeal. While German national team players like Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, and Leon Goretza contribute, their current roster includes French defender Benjamin Pavard, whose physics-defying goal in the 2018 World Cup raised his profile, and Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies, a promising young player who came of age for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
For American fans, Borussia Dortmund has been a must-watch in recent years as Christian Pulisic—arguably the best U.S. player in a generation—came of age with the team. He moved to the Premier League this summer, but Dortmund still has talent. Jadon Sancho, an English star in the making, features there, as do Marco Reus, Mario Gozte, and Paco Alcácer.
American players still figure in at some of the other clubs. Tyler Adams, another young player bound to be instrumental in future World Cups, plays for RB Leipzig—part of the Red Bull family of international soccer teams and considered somewhat of a party-crasher to German football tradition. Weston McKennie is the most advanced of several Americans with Dortmund rivals Schalke, and up-and-coming striker Josh Sargent is developing at Werder Bremen.
- FC Augsburg
- Bayer Leverkusen
- Bayern Munich
- Borussia Dortmund
- Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Eintracht Frankfurt
- Fortuna Düsseldorf
- SC Freiburg
- Hertha Berlin
- TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
- 1. FC Köln (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- RB Leipzig
- 1. FSV Mainz 05
- SC Paderborn 07 (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- Schalke 04
- Union Berlin (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- Werder Bremen
- VfL Wolfsburg
2018-19 Bundesliga top scorers
Robert Lewandowski: The Polish striker, in his fifth season with Bayern Munich, scored 40 goals in all competitions, with 22 in Bundesliga play to lead the league. While it was a bit of a dropoff from his nearly goal-a-game pace of the prior three seasons, it was an impressive tally nonetheless.
Paco Alcácer: The Spanish striker, on a Borussia Dortmund team with plenty of scoring talent, was the leading scorer for the Bundesliga runner-ups last season with 18 goals.
Marco Reus: The Dortmund captain, in his seventh season with the team, contributed 17 goals and eight assists over the course of the ’18-’19 Bundesliga season.
Wout Weghorst: The Wolfsburg attacker had an excellent debut season in the Bundesliga, coming over from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to put in 17 and add seven assists.
Luka Jovic: The ascendent Serbian had a breakout 17-goal season for Eintracht Frankfurt — so much so that Real Madrid picked him up over the summer in the hopes he’d break them out of the by-their-standards slump they had last season.
Here’s the list of recent Bundesliga champions; it pretty much speaks for itself.
- 2018-19: Bayern Munich
- 2017-18: Bayern Munich
- 2016-17: Bayern Munich
- 2015-16: Bayern Munich
- 2014-15: Bayern Munich
- 2013-14: Bayern Munich
- 2012-13: Bayern Munich
- 2011-12: Borussia Dortmund
- 2010-11: Borussia Dortmund
- 2019-10: Bayern Munich
Here’s the complete list of champions going back to 1963.
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.