What Bundesliga team should I support
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What Bundesliga team should I support: Find a club with this primer

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Must read preface: For close to a decade on several platforms — most recently this one — I’ve given prospective fans of the Premier League a guide to choose a team. So it seems natural to answer the question: What Bundesliga team should I support?

Look, in no way do I claim to give anything other than an opinionated overview that I believe to be a fair representation of clubs whose history far outlives even my fandom of the beautiful game. With the Bundesliga returning this weekend and holding the status as (my opinion) the second-most interesting top-to-bottom elite league in the world, I’m going to wade into similar waters.

[ MORE: Bundesliga standings ahead of return ]

By no means do I claim a massive breadth of knowledge on every top German club. In fact, I guarantee that Bundesliga diehards will find at least a handful of gripes in my comparisons (There’s only so long to write).

But people need to know what they are getting into, as I know personally of a fan or two now attached to insufferable clubs. ‘They’ had no idea that their love for a brown ale or clever nickname would lead to a lifetime of supporter misery.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Also, this is primarily an American site, and the Bundesliga has been welcoming to USMNT players and prospects for some time, so we’ll make those connections for you.

So without further ado, I submit to you my 2020 beginner’s guide to answering the question “What Bundesliga team should I support?” I know there are better routes to run in finding a club you love, but these are desperate times for live sports fans. Let us give you a head start.

It’s a great league. You’re gonna love it.

18. Paderborn — The up-and-down club

Top-flight titles: None
Formed: 1907
In top-flight since: First season back
American players: None, though Khiry Shelton was there until January.

PL comparison: Norwich City
Season so far: Looking likely to be one-and-done, a traditional yo-yo club who’s probably been a bit better than their standing.

17. Werder Bremen — The underachieving mainstays, with glory not too far in the rearview mirror.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Four (2004)
Formed: 1899
In top-flight since: 1981-82
American players: Josh Sargent, formerly Aron Johannsson
PL comparison: West Ham United with titles– Underachieving and fiercely supported. 

Season so far: A tremendous amount of talent has produced a whole lot of nothing. Hanging their hat on a match-in-hand, this decade could not have ended soon enough for a team that won a lot for a long time.

What Bundesliga team should I support
Werder’s Sargent (l) with Marco Friedl (Photo by Carmen Jaspersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

16. Fortuna Dusseldorf — One of the country’s oldest clubs, trying to continue rebound

Top-flight titles and most recent one: One (1933)
Formed: 1895
In top-flight since: 2018-19

American players: Alfredo Morales, Zack Steffen (on loan)
PL comparison: Southampton — a ride to the lower tiers and back up.

Season so far: Nine of their 27 goals have come in three matches, and they’ve only managed five points from those outings.

15. Mainz — Weathering a storm in a relatively sunny period of the club’s history

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Three (1978)
Formed: 1905
In top-flight since: 2009-10
American players: None, formerly Conor Casey

PL comparison: Bournemouth — Instantly competitive once promoted but in tough waters right now.
Season so far: Swedish striker Robin Quaison has scored enough and in big spots to keep the mainstays just above the bottom three.

14. Augsburg — Slipping after a surprise UEL season in 2015-16.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed: 1907
In top-flight since: 2011-12
American players: None, formerly Michael Parkhurst

PL comparison: Burnley — Sometimes you wonder how they do it, but they find a way to remain.
Season so far: Won five of six in the middle of the season and that’s about the only thing keeping them kicking.

13. Hertha Berlin — Spending big and crossing fingers.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Two (1931)
Formed: 1892
In top-flight since: 2013-14
American players: None, several former players inc. John Brooks

PL comparison: Aston Villa — Big city, big club, spending and trying to find its old mojo
Season so far: They’ve spent a lot, gone through a few coaches (one was Jurgen Klinsmann), and expected a lot more than 13th.

12. Eintracht Frankfurt — Well-supported and hoping to sustain success

Top-flight titles and most recent one: One (1959)
Formed: 1899
In top-flight since: 2012-13
American players: Timothy Chandler, formerly several others

PL comparison: Wolves — Productive academy, recent tastes of Europe, and hopeful of continuing their resurgence.
Season so far: Two losing streaks have sent them away from the reaches of European qualification. Still alive in the German Cup if it goes forward.

What Bundesliga team should I support
Timothy Chandler (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

11. Union Berlin — Progressive, driven, and back in the big time.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed: 1966
In top-flight since: 2019-20
American players: None, formerly Bobby Wood.

PL comparison: Everton — Big city vibes with a focus on the community
Season so far: Great at home but wretched away from the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei.

10. Koln — Fun. Like a live goat type of fun.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Three (1978)
Formed: 1948
In top-flight since: 2019-20
American players: None

PL comparison: Crystal Palace — A unique club with an unmistakable stadium experience, the fit misses the mark on past silverware but makes solid contract on the live mascot comparison. Goats and eagles are bit different though…
Season so far: A horrible first few months led to tremendous success with a 8W-3L run since mid-December. Capable of making a run to sixth if they can recapture the mojo.

9. Hoffenheim — Everyone’s enemy.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed: 1899
In top-flight since: 2008-09
American players: None, formerly several including Danny Williams

PL comparison: Chelsea or Man City before the silverware.
Season so far: Two hot runs of form does not a good season make. Not resembling the team that gave Liverpool a hard time in the UCL a couple of years ago.

8. Freiburg — Rise and grind (and grind and grind).

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed: 1904
In top-flight since: 2016-17
American players: None, formerly a few including Danny Williams

PL comparison: Watford — On occasion they’ll delight, but the footing never feels too solid.
Season so far: Bang average. About as middle of the road and inconsistent as you’ll find.

7. Wolfsburg — A roller coaster ride with the highest peaks.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: One (2009)
Formed: 1945
In top-flight since: 1997-98
American players: John Brooks and several former players including Claudio Reyna

PL comparison: Leicester City — a surprise title in 2009 and roller coaster since
Season so far: Won just twice between November and the end of January, but still capable of making Europe.

What Bundesliga team should I support
John Brooks (Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images)

6. Schalke — Often on the precipice.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Seven (1958)
Formed: 1904
In top-flight since: 1991-92
American players: Weston McKennie and plenty of former players

PL comparison: Chelsea — UCL regulars who’ve succeeded with several styles of play. Less league success though, but solid rivalries.
Season so far: There are questions about the club’s long-term prognosis in terms of their top talents, but David Wagner’s boys still have a chance to head back to Europe.

5. Bayer Leverkusen — Always the bridesmaids (or groomsmen. It’s 2020).

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed:
In top-flight since: 1979-80
American players: None, but several former including Landon Donovan and Frankie Hejduk

PL comparison: Tottenham Hotspur — A mainstay, but always on the precipice. Plus: One UCL runners-up season.
Season so far: As usual, entertaining and living near the top without sipping from the grail. A lot of top young players could leave soon, so is now the time?

4. Borussia Monchengladbach — Stylish, powerful, and a bit too “nearly.”

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Five (1977)
Formed: 1904
In top-flight since: 2008-09
American players: Fabian Johnson, and formerly Michael Bradley and others

PL comparison: Liverpool of 2018-19– Entertainers on the cusp of something more?
Season so far: Leaders for a while and boasting a very good squad that could still lay claim to the crown.

3. RB Leipzig — Like Hoffenheim. On steroids.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: None
Formed: 2009
In top-flight since: 2016-17
American players: Tyler Adams

PL comparison: Man City — Not perfect as City has a massive history, but the nouveau riche vibe is heavy in the German consciousness and the club is helped by its club relationships. A wealth-fueled rise from nothing to pure power.
Season so far: The title charge has stalled due a series of draws, but still very much alive with Timo Werner’s clock ticking.

2. Borussia Dortmund — Relatively successful monster hunters.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: Eight (2012)
Formed: 1909
In top-flight since: 1976-77
American players: Giovanni Reyna, formerly a few including Christian Pulisic and Jovan Kirovski

PL comparison: Arsenal — Stylish football but slip-ups in big spots as of late. Talent procurers and producers of the highest order
Season so far: The season pause came at a terrible time for red-hot Dortmund, who is riding Jadon Sancho to another title charge. Can they end Bayern’s long run?

1. Bayern Munich — Monsters.

Top-flight titles and most recent one: 29, including the last eight
Formed: 1900
In top-flight since: 1965-66
American players: None, formerly Landon Donovan and Julian Green

PL comparison: Manchester United — The best-known team in the league from a worldwide perspective, ruthless competitors who almost always spend.
Season so far: A slow start has kept the field of title chasers five-deep, but Hansi Flick’s side has spread its wings and will win again if it can navigate a tricky-enough fixture list with three of the four chasers left on the docket.

What Bundesliga team should I support
(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

UK government gives PL green light for contact training

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The UK government has given the Premier League and the Championship the green light to resume contact training after publishing stage two of its return to training guidance.

This is a big boost for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plans ahead of a pivotal week of meeting and votes about playing the remaining 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Since last week all 20 Premier League clubs have been taking part in small-group training at a social distance as clubs agreed unanimously to return to training as part of stage one of the protocols.

Late Sunday the UK government released guidelines on stage two of training for elite athletes as contact training is now permitted. Per the stage two guidelines, athletes are allowed to ‘opt out’ of training ‘without any resulting discrimination.’

It is not known whether or not players who contract COVID-19 while in stage two of training may have to quarantine for 14 days. That is said to be something which will be discussed in full detail in the coming days in the Premier League meetings, while below is a little more from the UK government explanation on stage two.

  • Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close contact (interaction within the two metre social distancing boundary) training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact (e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc).
  • The progression of training into Stage Two is vital to prepare fully for the return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports. Close contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses. Close contact training develops the sport-specific fitness which is an essential element for player safety and a reduced risk of injury during competition.
  • It is anticipated that engaging in this type of training would start with smaller ‘clusters’ of 2-3 athletes and eventually progress to larger groups of 4-12 athletes, and ultimately full team training, without social distancing possible at all times. Under Stage Two conditions, as per Stage One, social distancing will continue to be the expectation at all other times aside from technical training.

Speaking about the stage two guidelines, UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved. We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.

“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”

Premier League clubs, players and managers will meet in the coming days to discuss the protocols in place around a return to contact training and clubs are due to vote on Wednesday whether or not to sanction the move to stage two.

This is a big boost for the Premier League and Championship as both had been waiting to get the green light from the government before their clubs could vote on the plan for a return to contract training.

All 20 Premier League clubs will meet on several video conference calls to discuss the protocols around a return to full-contact training as players, managers and the Premier League will discuss the details with medical experts. Several Premier League stars have revealed their angst about returning to training.

Per the guidelines, moving to stage two provides more risk of COVID-19 infection: “Due to the increased risk of transmission under Stage Two conditions, the COVID-19 officer must have a clear policy for managing a COVID-19 positive individual and abide by Government guidelines and reporting requirements.”

The Premier League confirmed over the weekend that from 1,744 tests on players and staff across the first two rounds of COVID-19 tests, eight positive tests have been recorded with players from both Watford and Bournemouth confirmed to have the virus. Two positive COVID-19 tests had arrived after 1,014 players and staff in the Championship were tested.

Premier League players will again be tested on Monday and Tuesday and the results of those tests will be key in seeing how the strict protocols at training grounds are working.

Now that the UK government has given clear guidance to the Premier League about how it can return to contact training, it is now down to clubs, medical experts, players and managers to all agree on the safest path forward.

There is still a long way to go until games return but this is another step on the path towards the 2019-20 season returning.

Transfer news: King to Man United; Tagliafico to Arsenal

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In the latest transfer news Josh King has been linked with a move to Man United this summer as several top clubs are circling, while Ajax and Argentina defender Nicolas Tagliafico could be heading to Arsenal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, our partners at Sky Sports in the UK have a beauty of a report which states that four of the Premier League’s top six clubs want to sign Bournemouth striker Josh King.

King, 28, was the subject of a late bid form Man United in the January window but the Cherries turned it down as they needed him to help with their relegation battle. Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe admitted it was tough on King and the players also revealed he was it was tough to see the move blocked, as he came through Man United’s youth academy and the Norwegian international is close with Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. King has scored 46 goals in 154 Premier League appearances for Bournemouth and has been instrumental since they were promoted to the top-flight in 2015. King loves Man United and this would clearly be a good fit for all concerned.

Per the fresh report, Man United are keen on King because he can play centrally and wide and with Odion Ighalo’s future uncertain amid his loan move from Shanghai Shenhua, Solskjaer wants to add one more striker this summer. King has one year left on his contract and Bournemouth are expected to cash in on him but Chelsea are also said to be interested, as well as two other ‘top six’ clubs.

Bournemouth rejected a $25 million offer for King in January but they would snap anybody’s hand off for that this summer given the financial situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact King will have just one year left on his current deal. Bournemouth have already been burned by not extending Ryan Fraser’s contract and he is set to be out of contract on July 1.

Tagliafico
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Heading from Manchester to London, Arsenal are said to be interested in Ajax and Argentina defender Nicolas Tagliafico.

The Gunners continue to be linked with plenty of defenders and even though it is believed Mikel Arteta will not have a big transfer budget in the upcoming transfer windows, Tagliafico for $25 million is a steal.

According to the Sun, Arsenal want the 27-year-old as Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar recently said that Tagliafico, Andre Onana and Donny van de Beek are free to leave this summer if their transfer value is met. Tagliafico is said to be keen on a fresh challenge and wants a move to the Premier League.

Do Arsenal need a left back? Teenage star Bukayo Saka has been splendid out of position at left back this season but both he and Arsenal are keen to move him back into his natural position as a left winger, while young Scottish left back Kieran Tierney has struggled with injuries throughout his debut campaign in the Premier League.

Tagliafico can also play as a left-sided center back and with the Gunners experimenting at times with a 3-4-3 formation, he would give them flexibility and defensive options. It is clear Arsenal need to improve defensively and Tagliafico is a very solid left back who is good on the ball and is also a goal threat at the other end of the pitch.

Cologne deny Fortuna with amazing late comeback (video)

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Relegation-threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf thought they had secured a massive win away at FC Cologne in the Rhine Derby on Sunday as Kenan Karaman and Erik Thommy struck in each half to put them 2-0 up, but the hosts struck twice late on to grab a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Anthony Modeste and Jhon Corodba were the heroes for Cologne, who blew a 2-0 lead last week to draw 2-2 at home with Mainz but this time out they were on the other end of a comeback.

It didn’t look like being Cologne’s day for vast swathes of the game as at 1-0 to Fortuna, Florian Kastenmeier saved Mark Uth’s penalty kick in what looked like a key moment for Uwe Rosler’s Fortuna who are embroiled in the Bundesliga relegation battle.

The draw sees Fortuna move onto 24 points as they sit in 16th place, which is the relegation playoff spot. After a big win for 17th place Werder Bremen this weekend, plus heavy defeats for Mainz, Augsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt above them, the Bundesliga relegation battle has become extremely intriguing. A note for USMNT fans: midfielder Alfredo Morales put in a tireless 90 minute shift in central midfield.

Cologne sit 10th on 34 points and are in the hunt for Europa League qualification.

Fortuna went ahead early on as Karaman found some space in the box and his shot deflected in as the away side led at the break.

Cologne were handed the perfect opportunity to get back into the game in the second half as Uth first hit the post, then was denied by Kastenmeier before he was scythed down in the box as a penalty kick was awarded.

Uth, who scored a penalty kick last week, appeared to take the ball off Cordoba and Kastenmeier produced a fine save down low as Fortuna celebrated wildly once the ball was cleared.

Buoyed by that penalty save, Fortuna went up the other end moments later and doubled their lead as the ball found Thommy at the back post and he curled a sumptuous effort into the far corner.

Fortuna believed they were home and dry.

With 88 minutes on the clock, the Cologne comeback began as Modeste headed home superbly to make it 2-1 and give his side hope of grabbing a point.

 

In the 91st minute the equalizer arrived in similar fashion.

Fortuna ran out of steam and another cross from the right found Cordoba who nodded home to snatch a point for the hosts.

The draw felt like a win for Cologne and it was a sickening blow for a Fortuna side who badly need all three points in their battle against the drop.

Crucial week ahead for the Premier League

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The upcoming week is a huge one for the Premier League as a key vote and serious talks are set to take place with regards to restarting the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

All 20 clubs will meet on several video conference calls to discuss the protocols around a return to full-contact training, subject to government approval, as players, managers and the Premier League will discuss the details with medical experts. The UK government have yet to release details about stage two of a return to training for professional athletes and several Premier League stars have revealed their angst about returning to training.

Clubs will then vote on a return to full-contact training on Wednesday and depending on the outcome of that vote, that will shape further talks. If full-contact training is given the thumbs up, it is expected that on Thursday clubs will then discuss the plan to either restart the season in mid-June or curtailment plans which would see the table potentially decided on a points-per-game basis.

The Premier League confirmed over the weekend that from 1,744 tests on players and staff across the first two rounds of COVID-19 tests, eight positive tests have been recorded with players from both Watford and Bournemouth confirmed to have the virus.

Players will again be tested on Monday and Tuesday and the results of those tests will be key in seeing how the strict protocols at training grounds are working.

All 20 clubs unanimously voted in favor of a return to small-group training and they are all said to be in favor of a return to action, although some have publicly aired reservations.

The next few days seem pivotal as to whether or not the final 92 games of the Premier League season will be played and all eyes will be on the vote on Wednesday, if the UK government can provide details on the new protocols.

With the Bundesliga off and running, La Liga set for a June 8 restart and Serie A planning for a mid-June restart, the Premier League are correctly being cautious when it comes to a restart. Sooner or later they need to vote on a path forward and this week will be crucial.