The Bundesliga is the soccer league at the top of the German system, consisting of 18 teams and using the promotion/relegation system with the 2. Bundesliga The Bundesliga is routinely one of the most successful and most popular leagues in the world, especially with Bayern Munich’s success in the Champions League.
The Bundesliga has consisted of players who have won the Ballon d’Or, FIFA Player of the Year, led Europe in scoring, and many of the sport’s most famous players. The league is often the best-attended soccer league in the world, with massive stadiums and teams with major followings around Germany.
The most well-known teams outside of Bayern Munich are Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, and Hamburger SV. Recently, RB Leipzig crashed the party while Hamburger went down for the first time ever in 2018, and Werder Bremen followed in 2021.
The Bundesliga as we know it now was founded in 1962 by the Deutscher Fussball-Bund in Dortmund. This replaced the former system that included amateur teams, regional and sub-regional leagues, and even some semi-pro teams after World War II. German players left the country in the 1950s to play professionally in other countries, and that started the plan for a central professional league in what was then West Germany.
Another factor that went into the formation of the Bundesliga in West Germany was the national team losing in the 1962 World Cup quarterfinals to Yugoslavia. The league had 46 applications to join for the 1963-64 season and settled on 16: 1860 Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburger SV, Hertha Berlin, Karlsruher SC, FC Kaiserslautern, FC Koln, FC Saarbrücken, FC Nurnberg, Meidericher SV, Preussen Munster, Schalke 04, VfB Stuttgart, and Werder Bremen.
From the start of the league until 1981, the bottom two or three teams were relegated automatically. From 1981 to 1991, the league went into a playoff regulation system with the team finishing third from the bottom facing the third-place team from 2. Bundesliga. The league returned to automatic relegation for the bottom three teams from 1992 to 2008 before returning to the playoff system in the 2008-09 season.
The very first game was played on August 24, 1963, and FC Koln won the first title. As Werder Bremen won the title in 1964-65, Hertha BSC was kicked out of the league for breaking salary rules. They tried to circumvent all the salary rules at the time to entice players to Berlin during the Cold War.
Seven different teams won the first seven titles, with no team repeating until Borussia Monchengladbach did so in 1969-70 and 1970-71. Bayern Munich joined the Bundesliga for the first time in 1965-66 and won their first title in 1968-69 before three-peating from 1971-72 to 1973-74. During the 1971-72 season, Armenia Bielefeld was stripped of all their points and relegated for match-fixing.
West Germany hosted and won the 1974 World Cup, with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in Munich. That led to an explosion in popularity for the Bundesliga throughout the county. Bayern Munich also won the 1974 Champions League title, the first-ever for a German club. They followed with two more Champions League wins for a three-peat.
Borussia Monchengladbach dethroned Bayern and won three straight titles. They also were Champions League runners-up in 1977 after their third straight Bundesliga triumph. The success in Europe by both clubs in the 1970s allowed the Bundesliga to attract foreign superstars and pay their higher wages.
Hamburger won the final title of the 1970s before Bayern Munich went back-to-back again. Hamburger and Bayern combined to win 10 of the next 12 titles into the 1990s. VfB Stuttgart won in 1983-84, and Werder Bremen did so in 1987-88. The big problem for the league in the 1980s was the advent of hooliganism, with neo-Nazi fan groups keeping fans away and also driving star players to other leagues.
West Germany won the World Cup again in 1990, and FC Kaiserslautern won the league in 1990-91 as Germany, and the Bundesliga experienced change. With the Berlin Wall down and reunification with East Germany, the Bundesliga welcomed East German teams for the first time in 1991-92. To do so the league expanded to 20 teams, adding Dynamo Dresden and Hansa Rostock from DDR-Oberliga.
The popularity of the league exploded through the 90s as Germany won the 1996 European Championships and the Bundesliga started a worldwide marketing campaign. Five different teams won the league in the 90s, with Bayern Munich (3), Borussia Dortmund (2), and FC Kaiserslautern (2) winning more than one. Dortmund also won the 1996-97 Champions League, the first German team to do so since Hamburger won in 1983.
Bayern Munich continued its dominance into the 2000s, winning eight of 12 titles between 1998 and 2010. Bayern won another Champions League in 2001 after falling short in extra time two years earlier. Bayer Leverkusen reached the 2002 final but lost to Real Madrid.
Dortmund, who won two straight titles in the 90s, did so again in 2010-11 and 2011-12. After their triumph in 2012, Bayern bounced back and took the next 10 titles while also reaching three Champions League finals. The 2012-13 Champions League final was a triumph for the Bundesliga as Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in London in the first-ever all-German final. It took seven years before a German team reached another CL final, but Bayern won again in 2020, behind closed doors.
The Bundesliga record book isn’t nearly as old as those of other European leagues, but it is filled with some of the biggest names in world soccer. Not surprisingly, Bayern Munich teams, players, and coaches dominate the record book.
The 2012-13 Bayern Munich team had the best season for a Bundesliga squad with 91 points. They won 29 games, matching the record a year later. The 2012-13 team also won 15 games on the road and had just one loss, both records.
The 1971-72 Bayern squad set a record with 101 goals, and the 2020-21 team came close with 99. The 2012-13 team had the best goal differential at +80, while the 2015-16 team set the league record for least goals allowed at 17.
The 2013-14 Bayern team won a league-record 19 games in a row and tied the Borussia Dortmund record from 2011-12 of 28 straight unbeaten.
Gerd Muller holds the record for most goals, with 365 goals in 427 games for Bayern Munich from 1964-79. Robert Lewandowski became the second-ever player with more than 300 goals when he surpassed that tally in the 2021-22 season. Lewandowski has played for both Dortmund and Bayern from 2010-22.
Lewandowski set the record for most goals in a season when he scored 41 times in 2020-21. Dieter Muller holds the single-game record with six goals for FC Koln in 1977-78.
Thomas Muller holds the league record for most career assists, with 161 at the end of the 2021-22 season. He set a single-second record with 21 in 2019-20 for Bayern Munich. Muller won his record 11th championship in 2022, keeping him one ahead of teammates Lewandowski and David Alaba.
Defender Charly Korbel set the record for most games played. He appeared in 602 games from 1972-91, all with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Otto Rehhagel managed the most games with 836 between 1974-2000 with Kickers Offenbach, Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, Armenia Bielefeld, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bayern Munich and FC Kaiserslautern, returning to the league in 2012 with Hertha Berlin. He won Bundesliga titles with Werder Bremen (2) and Kaiserslautern.
How do the Bundesliga odds work?
Bundesliga soccer odds work in two different ways. There’s a three-way bet that includes the option of a draw. Bayern Munich might be -130 at home with Dortmund at +210 and a draw at +180.
A two-way “Draw No-Bet” gives higher odds on teams to win. In the same example, without a draw, Bayern could be -190 with Dortmund at +120. There isn’t overtime in regular-season games, so all bets end after 90 minutes.
Regular Bundesliga best bets
There are multiple best bets for Bundesliga soccer odds. Fans can bet on the spread or goal line. This option will range anywhere from +/- 0.5 to 3.5 in a typical book. So if you take Bayer Leverkusen +1.5 against RB Leipzig, you still win the bet even if Leipzig wins the game 2-1.
Another option in soccer betting is the total goals or over/under. In the same game, a bet of over 2.5 goals would win in a 2-1 game, but a bet of over 3.5 goals would lose.
If you don’t want to bet on total goals, you can bet on total team goals. If you back Bayern Munich at over 3.5 team goals and they beat FC Koln 4-0, then you win.
The Bundesliga has a lot of prolific goal scorers, and betting on individual goals is another betting option. In a Bayern Munich game, you can bet on Lewandowski to score first, score last, score anytime goal, or even to score multiple goals in a game. The odds for each player and each bet type will be different in each game
Bundesliga Futures bets
There are multiple Bundesliga futures markets to bet on before the season begins. For example, you can always bet on the league winner, though with Bayern Munich’s dominance there’s not always a lot of value there.
Another example of a futures bet are the teams to make the Champions League or the teams to be relegated. These odds will change during the season, with results each week.
Betting on the league’s golden boot winner, or top scorer is another futures bet. Again these odds will change during the season as players run hot or cold in their scoring or level of play.
Bundesliga Betting tips
Picking consistent winners in Bundesliga betting odds can be done with good research. Research and knowledge leads to success. Learning the style of play for managers is crucial, especially with new managers. Taking a look at the transfer markets in the preseason is key for futures bets.
Shopping around is also a good option to look at as many lines as possible. Some books list more options than others, such as goal scorers, prop bets, and both teams to score options. Some will also list single-game parlay options.
Following the Bundesliga Team Stats on social media is also important to getting good betting knowledge. This will help you learn more about each team and what their lineups will be. This is also a good way to find out about injuries and possible player moves or suspensions.
How to bet on Bundesliga?
Bundesliga betting requires knowledge, discipline, and patience. Among the betting tips are to only bet when there is value. Using multiple sportsbooks is a good way to find odds boosts, specials, or other Bundesliga options.
Finding Bundesliga odds and making bets is readily available at most sportsbooks around the world as the league is among the most popular.
Bundesliga Odds Frequently Asked Questions
A typical Bundesliga season starts in August and ends in May. The league will take a holiday break in December and resume in January. This schedule will change during most World Cup seasons and some European Championship seasons, depending on those game dates.
The Bundesliga only has 18 teams. Each team plays the other 17 teams home and away for a 34-game season. Each win is worth three points, and a draw is worth one. The top four teams reach the Champions League while the next 2-3 teams in the standings qualify for other European competitions, depending on Bundesliga’s coefficient.
The 17th and 18th place teams get relegated. The 16th place team plays a home-and-home playoff with a 2. Bundesliga playoff survivor with the winner playing in the top-level the next season.
Not surprisingly, the biggest rivalries in the Bundesliga involve Bayern Munich. The biggest of these is Der Klassiker with Borussia Dortmund, dating back to 1965. These teams battled for numerous league titles in the 1990s into the 2020s while also meeting in other competitions like DFB Pokal and Champions League.
This rivalry also took off because Bayern routinely bought players from Dortmund, including Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Torsten Frings, Mario Gotze, and Sebastian Rode. Gotze and Hummels eventually returned to Dortmund.
Bayern also enjoys a rivalry with Werder Bremen, the North-South Classic. This rivalry is the most often played game in Bundesliga, only taking a break in 2021 as Bremen were relegated for the first time since 1980.
They also have a local rivalry with FC Nurnberg, the Bavarian Rivalry. This rivalry pre-dates the Bundesliga, going back to 1945.
Dortmund also has a Revierderby with FC Schalke 04. This match has been played since 1925 and is an example of a local rivalry in Germany that was played before the Bundesliga. Other teams in the Rhineland that have derbies with each other are FC Koln, Borussia Monchengladbach, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Bayer Leverkusen.
The main transfer market for German teams, as with all of Europe, is the summer transfer market. It traditionally opens in June and closes in August before the start of the next season. There is also a winter transfer market in January.
The largest stadium in the Bundesliga is Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, at just over 80,000. Bayern’s Allianz Arena opened in 2005 and holds 75,000 fans, while Hertha’s Olympiastadion holds just under 75,000. Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Borussia Park in Monchengladbach, and Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfort all hold over 50,000 fans. RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne for FC Koln and Red Bull Arena in Leipzig are just under 50,000.