Germany’s Most Successful Football Clubs

The Premier League is England’s most prominent professional sports league, with 20 teams competing for the title each year. It was founded in 1992 and has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon, selling over £2 billion worth of tickets every year. The competition is broadcast live across Europe and in countries around the globe, including China, Japan, India, and South America.

For years, football teams have competed against each other to see who wins more trophies. This competition, launched in 1955, features 32 teams. Each group winner is paired up with another team until only two remain. The final tournament consists of 8 teams playing head-to-head matches.

Germany and its Bundesliga

Germany’s football plays in the top international competitions and wins them regularly. The Bundesliga has a low profile, though. It was only formed in 1962, with earlier national titles decided via playoffs rather than league competition. Attendance figures are high, however, with average crowds being around 50 000 per game.

America’s Major League Soccer (MLS). Germany’s most successful football club has a vast global reputation, and German clubs have participated in UEFA’s historic success – 7 teams have won at least one major UEFA trophy. German clubs have achieved 140 Success Points in international competitions.

America’s MLS is among the world’s strongest leagues, capable of drawing global stars and with TV rights deals worth billions of dollars for 2019.

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ARL Football Success Ranking System

A club that believes it can hold its own against the elite simply because it is big enough should be playing in the premier division of its association, buying better players, and, hopefully, earning money through commercial agreements. Its trophy case truly separates the bottom teams from the top, regardless of whether they are flying in business or first class.

The ARL Football Rankings for the Men’s National Team are established by a panel of experts who research national teams’ performances throughout the year. Points are awarded and used to establish a ranking list based on results. The rankings are determined with consideration given to performance during the previous 12 months.

1. FC Bayern Munich

Points: Bagged a total of 499.5

Past Trophy won: GFC, 1932

Recent Trophy won: Bundesliga, 2022

Most Effective Manager: Udo Lattek, 86 points (1970 – 75 and 1983 – 87)

With its rich history, Bayern Munich is a club of global recognition. But despite being crowned kings of German football, they haven’t always performed well under Pep Guardiola. In his last season at the helm, he led them to a sixth-place finish and failed to qualify for next year’s Champions League. In the 2014–15 season, Bayern won the treble – the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal, and the Champions League. This was the first time a German side had done so.

Although Bayern Munich is the most successful club in Germany, they only won the Bundesliga once in the last ten seasons. Their dominance in German football has also been challenged by Borussia Dortmund, who have had success both domestically and internationally.

For the 2020 season, the Bayern Munich team managed an unprecedented total sweep, winning every single trophy, including all six titles and a staggering 28 success points. This club is a global star and will remain Germany‘s most successful club for decades to come.

2. Borussia Dortmund

Points: A total of 120.5

Past Trophy won: GFC, 1956

Recent Trophy won: DFB Pokal, 2021

Most Effective Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld, 28 points (1991 -1998)

Borussia Dortmund was founded in 1909 and has played in the Bundesliga ever since. They were the dominant force in German football during the 1960s and 1970s, winning 13 League titles between 1962 and 1978. In the 1980s, they fell somewhat but rose again under Jürgen Klopp in the 2000s and 2010s.

Borussia Dortmund was the first German team to win a European championship, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1966. Borussia Dortmund also became one of Germany’s most productive teams after German reunification in 1990, regarded as its golden age. During that period, they won two titles, including the Champions League (CL).

3. FC Nurnberg

Points:  Has bagged 101 points over the season 

Latest Trophy: German Football Championship (GFC), 1920

Past Trophy Won: DFB Pokal, 2007

Most effective Manager: Izidor Kürschner – 18 points (1920–1921)

European football has an abundance of dormant giants – clubs who were once the best to beat but haven’t won much since. England’s Aston Villa (the former champions) is one, and Royal Union Saint Gilloise (formerly known as Racing Club de Bruxelles) of Belgium is another. German side Nurnberg is yet another example.

FC Nunberg was formed in 1900; by 1909, they had won their first regional championship, and by 1925 they had won their first national championship. From July 1918 to February 1922, they went undefeated in 104 official games. The ’20s were the most successful decade when they crowned champions five times, gaining 45 points.

After ten seasons, FC Nunberg’s golden era would end after a more fast-paced game evolved. While they could still shut out their opponents, the more deliberate and slower style was no longer effective. The ‘30s and ‘60 were also very successful for Nurnberg, making them the third most successful club in Germany and only pushing them into the “big 100+.”

4. Schalke

The club was established on April 4th, 1904, as Westfalia Schalke by a group of high school students. They were named after the then capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia (now known as Koln), where they had initially played in the lower leagues. Their first game was against local rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf. 

After many years of trying, the soccer team finally joined the official league. However, the team did not do very well and disbanded shortly afterward. A new team called Schalke was also formed, but they decided not to play any games. They eventually got back together with the original team in 15 later after its establishment with the name Turn-und Sportverein Schalke 1877.

The new club won its first honors in 1923 after winning the championship of the Schalke League. Around this period, Schalke picked the nickname Die Knappe, from an old German term for “miners,” because the team enrolled most of its players and supporters from the coalfields of Gelsenkirchen.

In 1924, the soccer team returned to playing matches under FC Schalck 04. At the same time, they changed their colors from red and black to blue and white. Soon after, they became known as Die Königsblaue (The Royal Blue) because of their new color scheme.

The following year, that club became a prominent local team based on their performance in the region’s regional league. This is where they adopted a system of sharp passing famous as the Schalker Kreisel. They would play in the country’s highest division, eventually winning the title, before reaching the final rounds of the national competition.

5. Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart is a club with a rich tradition. Its roots go back to the late 1800s when the sport of football was introduced to Germany. In the early 1900s, the club became part of the football league system. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the club won several championships, including multiple national titles.

With over 50,000 members, VFB is easily the most prominent sports club in Baden-württemberg and ranks among the top 10 in Germany. Despite winning only five national championships, VFB enjoys wide popularity thanks to its successful football team. The club has acquired a positive international reputation through victories on the European stage.

The fascination emanates from the VfB being an iconic brand representing many positive and memorable moments in German football. It also has a rich tradition of great players and legendary coaches. These include Robert Schlienz, Föderation der Freunde von Borussia Mönchengladbach (FdB), the Försters brothers and the so-called “magische Dreiecke” (magic triangle) of Krassimir, Fredi and Giovane Elber. 

They were all part of the team that characterized whole generations. Those traditions and memories make VFB Stuttgart a vibrant, understandable, and enjoyable cultural institution for people across Germany.

6. Borussia Moenchengladbach

Most people know Borussia Möncheongladbach as an attacking side that plays attractive football. They have won 5 championships, 3 cups, and two super cups. Their home ground is the Borussia Park Stadium, where they play their matches. The stadium was built in 2000 and held around 50,000 spectators. 

The club’s official name comes from the city of Mönchengladbacherhütte, located near the ground. “Vfl” means “Club for Physical Games,” which stands for  Verein für Bewegungsspiele, “1900” stands for the year of foundation, and “e.V.”, finally, stands for “eingetragener Club.”

VFL was founded in 1900 as FC Borussia in Augsburg, Germany. In 1919 they became FC Gladbacher SV and were renamed in 1921 as Borussia VfL. In 1961 they changed again to Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach.  After relegation from the Bundesliga in 1970, they were named after the famous football club in Munich.

During Borussia, Moenchengladbach’s first six decades of existence, Gladbach had enjoyed a modest amount of success in the regional competitions. It was mainly known for its ferocious rivalry with FC Köln. The two rivals went back to back, leading to a one-time victory for  Gladbach, who defeated Köln, earning their first trophy in the 1960 DFB Pokal.

While Gladbach was undoubtedly not one of the sixteen clubs invited to play in the inaugural Bundesliga season in 1963, they were soon promoted to the top flight after just three years. The main reason behind the club’s rapid ascent to success was the arrival of Coach Henning Weisweiler, an innovative tactician who introduced new ideas into the game.

7. Hamburg

Besides being one of Germany’s most famous soccer teams, Hamburg SV is also one of the best. They’ve won several domestic championships, including two Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokals, one Cup Winners Cup, and one UEFA Champions League. They also hold the record for being the only team not ever to be relegated from the highest level of German soccer.

Officially, Hamburg is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Yet, they would later be renamed HSV. They were initially formed in 1887, then named SC Germania. In 1919, the team merged with 2 other teams, FC Falke Eppdorff and Hamburger FC. That same year, they won their first VICTORIA cup, also called the national championship. From 1922 to 1932, they won 3 more titles.

The post-war era was not particularly kind to HSV. Although the club continued to dominate in the local leagues, it had to wait for the swinging sixties before finding its time in the spotlight nationally. Led by Uwe Seelerer, HSV defeated FC Cologne in the 1960 championship final to win its third national title. The club won the DFB Pokal a year later by defeating Borussia Dortmund 3-2.

8. Hertha Berlin

Hertha BSC Berlin is one of the oldest football clubs in Germany and has won an incredible number of national titles, including seven Bundesliga championships and three UEFA Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies. They were also crowned German champions nine times between 1925 and 1933.

The club was established at the end of the 19th century and existed before most other known football clubs in Berlin. Among the already existing clubs in Berlin at the time include FC Viktoria 1889, who played in the German football league system between 1905 and 1914, and SC Union 1900 Berlin, who had previously played in the top flight of local football.

In 1890, Germany’s first football league started. Hertha Berlin was playing in this league for the very first time. They won the first Bundesliga title in 1906. Hertha’s dominance continued, and they won overall twelve league titles.

The club was initially named after an old ship called Hertha. The name was inspired by one of the founders happening to be a passenger on board.

In Nazi Germany, between the 1930s and 1950s, Hertha competed against other teams from Berlin and Brandenburg in the Gauliga Berlin/Brandenburg. During this era, they won three league championships.

In 1945, The Gauliga Berlin Brandenburg was disbanded, leading to Hertha BSC moving to Oberliga Berlin – one of four regional divisions of Germany’s top football league. Three titles followed before the club was relegated to second division play in 1948. The team returned after two seasons and won the league three more times. 

9. Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurter has been a club on the rise in the last few years. Finishing comfortably in the upper reaches, they have won the Europa League two times. The football club based out of Frankfurt, Germany, plays in the Bundesliga, the highest league competition in Germany. They have won the DFB Pokal (German Cup) five times and the UEFA cup two times.

Eintracht has been known as “The Eagles” ever its formation in 1963. They’ve played home games at the Deutsche Bank Park, which holds over 50,000 people and has the highest attendance ratings in Europe.

Some of the greatest footballers ever played for Frankfurt have included Andreas Möller, Tony Yeboá, and Jay-Jay Okóch. I do not forget the long-serving Germany National Team Head Coach, Joachim Löw, who played for Frankfurt between 1981 and 1982.

Eintracht was formed in 1899, when two football clubs, FC Viktoria and FC Kickers, merged. These two teams had played each other regularly since 1892, so it made sense for them to join forces. They became known as Eintracht Frankfurt after merging in 1899.

Both clubs were founding players of the Nordkreis-Liga in 1909 and merged into the new club in 1911. This saw them winning three league titles between 1912 and 1914. They qualified for the southern German championship in each season.

After its formation, Frankfurter Fußball Vereinigung (FFV) joined gymnastics club Frankfurt  Turngemeinde von 1861 and TuS Eintrachts Frankfurt von 1861 in 1920. To this date, FFV has 19 sections and plays football with a connection to the community, including athletics, boxing, and hockey – currently expanding to play table football and esports.

Frankfurt reached the final round of the 1932 German championship (German football championship), losing 2-0 to FC Bayern Munich. In 1938, they were crowned champions of the Gauliga Südwest. A second division title was added in 1953, then another in 1958, before winning the German national title in 1959. Frankfurt qualified for the following season’s UEFA Cup after their successes in the Bundesliga.

10. Kaiserslautern

While Kaiserslautern doesn’t quite cut the very top tier of German football, they do have a varied history. They’ve won national championships and DFB-pokal titles, but they can also be proud of their rabid and faithful fan base. Fritz-Walter Stadium has always been challenging for visiting sides, especially those from abroad. The full name of their club is 1. FCK, simply known as FCK, is an abbreviation of 1. Fußball Club Kaiserslautern is better known by just calling them Kaiserslautern.

The club was officially formed in 1900 through a merger of FG Kaiserslautern and FC Germania in 1896; the name of the new club was FC 1900 KAISERSLAUTERN. In 1909, the team merged with FC Palatia and Bavaria but maintained its name. In 1929, the newly merged FCK joined forces with SV Phönix and would not be referred to as Fußball-Club Kaiserslautern until 1932.

Though the city of Kaiserslautern has been around for centuries, it didn’t start becoming an important place until after World War II ended. In 1949, the city decided to create five separate regional leagues (Oberligas). The team made it to the finals eleven times during the next eighteen years. 

They were named champions two times, in 1951 and 1953, though they did not play in the final match. In those days, the league system meant far more than winning games. Teams competed against each other in a series of intense matches to determine the best overall team throughout Germany.

11. FC Koln

In Germany, 1. FC Kölle is famous for its mascot. After a change in ownership, the team was renamed ‘FC Cologne’ in 1998. In 2002, they adopted their current moniker, ‘1. FC Cologne’. While the club’s official name is FC Cologne, it is also widely regarded as ‘Fussballclub Koeln’ – in German.

The club’s crest is designed around a goat given to the club by a circus in 1953, named after Henne Weisweiler, a local boy and founder of the club. FC Koln won the national titles thrice and four times for the DFB Pokal trophies during its history. With these victories, it is only fair to admit that the goat has brought a time of luck to the team.

When Cologne Football Club was formed in 1948 by the merger of two previous Cologne clubs, Köln BC and SK Verein 1907 Sülz, it had no aspirations of becoming one of the great German teams of the twentieth century. The team did not disappoint, claiming its first Oberliga title in just six seasons, a feat repeated four more times. An early success came in 1962 when Köln beat 1. FC Nürnberg 4–0 in the German Cup Final.

Winning The First Bundesliga

That league championship proved to be a significant factor in Cologne getting an invitation to the new German Bundesliga. The invitation was justifiable right away because the club made the news by winning the first division the very next year. 

The following year, the team participated in the European Cup, though they ultimately fell short against Liverpool in one of the greatest quarterfinal upsets in European competition history. After two 0-0 draws and a 2-2 game in the third match, the tie was settled by a coin toss.

This wasn’t a significant loss for the team. Although they were knocked out of the cup competition early in the group stage, they continued to perform strongly in league matches. They added another Bundesliga title to their collection in 1963/64. 

Later in the ’70s, they bagged another DFB – Pokal after winning their first in 1968. They also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup later in the decade. Their final success came in 1983 after being crowned champions of Germany through their fourth DFB-Pokal.

The Best of the Rest

In the 1970s, Hamburger SV was led by coach Ernst Happel. He won three titles in the Bundesliga era, which saw the team have a successful period between 1975-1983. The team is placed 5th out of the “Big 100+”.

In 6th place, SV Bremen scored 34 points out of their total 80 points by winning two German leagues and one UEFA cup from 1987–94.

Coming in at 7th is Borussia Mönchengladbach – Germany’s biggest club – which won six titles and two European cups during the 1970s. They were the dominant force in German football.