Professional sports are, slowly but surely, beginning to return amid COVID-19 lockdowns, with Germany’s Bundesliga set to resume play in empty stadiums on Saturday.
CanPL.ca is fully aware that, in the absence of actual CPL matches to watch this weekend, football fans across the country will be glued to their televisions as actual, live, high-quality soccer kicks off.
That said, watching sports is always more fun when you have a rooting interest, right? So, we’ve decided to lend a hand to CPL fans here by helping them pick the Bundesliga club that best fits their home team.
Of course, the easy and most realistic solution is for all Canadians to get behind league leaders Bayern Munich, with Alphonso Davies about to become the most-watched Canadian athlete in the world for a few weeks. That’s not quite as fun for this thought exercise, though, and since it wouldn’t be fair to give Bayern to just one CPL club, we’ll say that Die Roten are verbotenfor our purposes.
We should also add, there are a lot more Bundesliga sides than CPL teams. So, forgive us if we left out your actual favourite (apologies in advance to Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt).
Without further ado, here we go. In order of how much sense they make, here’s one Bundesliga outfit for each CPL fanbase. We’ll see, by the end of it all, if this was actually a good idea…
Atlético Ottawa: 1. FC Union Berlin
This one was pretty easy.
Union Berlin, like Atlético Ottawa, is in its first season in the country’s top domestic league, having worked their way up to the Bundesliga after many years. Also, they’re based in the German capital. Honestly, the connection is pretty obvious; this is probably going to be the least questionable of the picks in here.
Ottawa fans, meet your Bundesliga team: They’re 11th in the league right now, and they won some big games this season, including against Borussia Dortmund and local rivals Hertha Berlin.
Union Berlin likes to play a wide game, with wingbacks Christopher Trimmel and Christopher Lenz (Malyk Hamilton and Vashon Neufville, anyone?) providing a lot of help in the attack.
Their first match of the resumed season will be a tough one, as they host Bayern Munich on Sunday.
York9 FC: SV Werder Bremen
Well, for one thing, they’re green. Also (and more importantly), Werder Bremen is the club where York9 assistant coach Paul Stalteri played almost 200 total games. He won the Bundesliga title there in 2004, too.
It gets better, though. Bremen’s home venue, the Weserstadion, had an athletics track around the pitch (like York Lions Stadium) for many years before it was removed in 2002.
And finally, Werder Bremen participated in the Bundesliga’s first-ever matchday, back in 1963, when they lost 3-2 to Borussia Dortmund. Unfortunately, it was Dortmund who scored in the first few minutes in that one, but the parallel is still pretty close.
Die Werderaner are in some trouble this season; they’re currently in the relegation zone in 17th, and they’re eight points back of the safety of 15th. They’ll need more from Kosovar forward Milot Rashica, as well as U.S. international Josh Sargent, if they’re to stay up.
Bremen’s return to play comes Monday afternoon against Bayer Leverkusen.
Forge FC: Borussia Dortmund
Black and yellow doesn’t exactly match up to Forge FC, but sort of? Forge’s lovely third kit in 2019 certainly did, as do the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Plus, if we’re giving Werder Bremen to York9, then it makes sense to pair Forge FC with Bremen’s opponent from their inaugural Bundesliga game, right?
BVB came second in last season’s league table, like Forge. Dortmund, just like Hamilton, has a long industrial history, having been a major steel milling city for years. Both cities are now in periods of rejuvenation and growth, without forgetting their foundations.
Both clubs were recently joined by an exciting Belgian winger, with Thorgan Hazard taking his talents to Dortmund last summer and Paolo Sabak signing for Forge. Both players joined their new clubs in hopes of mitigating the loss of a major lost player, in Paco Alcácer and Tristan Borges, respectively.
Borussia Dortmund fans will have the pleasure of watching stars such as Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Erling Braut Haaland as they try to make up the four-point gap between them and league-leaders Bayern.
They’ll take on derby rivals Schalke 04 on Saturday.
Pacific FC: RB Leipzig
Yes, this is a polarizing club that a lot of people hate — which doesn’t necessarily match up to Pacific FC — but there’s no denying that if there’s one side in the Bundesliga you’d say #TrustsTheKids, it’d be RasenBallsport Leipzig
Both sides are led by their youth corps, with German star Timo Werner the main attraction in Leipzig. Leipzig and Pacific have a reputation for recruiting and developing top youngsters. They also have a new young coach in charge, with Pa-Modou Kah taking over for PFC and Julian Nagelsmann beginning his tenure at RB Leipzig before the current season.
The city of Leipzig is fairly comparable to Victoria, as well; it may be landlocked, but its nearby man-made lake district provides a popular beach attraction. Both towns are well-known for their parks and green spaces as well, and they’re both pretty frequent inclusions on international lists of the world’s most livable cities.
RB Leipzig is alive in the Bundesliga title race, with five points between them and Bayern. They’ll resume their season on Saturday versus Freiburg.
HFX Wanderers FC: 1. FC Köln
There aren’t really a lot of coastal cities in the Bundesliga — or in Germany at all, for that matter. Hamburger SV could’ve been a good pick for Halifax, with the city of Hamburg’s history as a port town, but alas, they were relegated in 2018.
Fortunately, there’s a more literal connection. Peter Schaale, one of the CPL’s only actual German players, spent a couple of years in the academy of FC Köln, having attended high school in the city of Cologne. That’s good enough for us.
Both these clubs have a reputation for strong support, with a party atmosphere in the stands (although Wanderers fans haven’t yet adopted a goat as a mascot). Still, we think Halifax could easily come to love Die Geißböcke.
Köln’s attack is led by Colombian striker Jhon Córdoba (not unlike former Wanderer Luis Alberto Perea). And, predictably, they have a big German centre-back in Rafael Czichos.
They’ll try to improve on their 10th-place spot in the league when they play Mainz 05 on Sunday.
Cavalry FC: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Need we say more?
Jokes aside, this is a fun club, Cavs fans! Nicknamed the Foals, their club mascot is a horse named Jünter. They also have a green kit with a pattern fairly reminiscent of Cavalry’s camo strip from 2019.
Borussia sits fourth in the league, and they play some entertaining aggressive football, just like Cavalry. Their typical lineup looks similar to the 2019 Cavs, with wingers and a two-man pivot in midfield. Gladbach’s captain, Lars Stindl, once played a 2. Bundesliga match against Cavalry skipper Nik Ledgerwood in 2010, while the two were with Karlsruher and Frankfurt, respectively (Stindl scored in that game).
Anyway, Die Fohlen are in action Saturday against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Valour FC: 1. FSV Mainz 05
This one might sting a little, unfortunately. But it’s not all bad.
The most lopsided loss in the Bundesliga this year was… uh… an 8-0 result for RB Leipzig over Mainz. That’s as far as we’ll take that one.
The city of Mainz is a beautiful one, sitting at the confluence of two major rivers, the Rhine and the Main — just like Winnipeg, where the Red River and the Assiniboine meet (listen, I warned you these connections were going to get weak).
The Carnival club, as they’re known, underwent somewhat of a squad overhaul before this season, bringing in some new faces, including a fullback from a top-tier French club with a double-barreled surname (Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel, meet Arnold Bouka Moutou).
Mainz is four points clear of the relegation zone right now, with a key game against FC Köln on Sunday.
FC Edmonton: FC Schalke 04
There’s really no perfect match for the Eddies, but we’ll go with the royal blue club (or, Die Königsblauen). Schalke is one of the oldest and most historic clubs in the current Bundesliga, which could probably also be said for FCE.
Just as FC Edmonton has Amer Didic, so too does Schalke have a tall centre-back born in a country formerly part of Yugoslavia, in the form of Matija Nastasic. That’s about all we’ve got in the way of connections, but trust me: this is a great club to get, Eddies fans.
Schalke is one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in the world, although they haven’t quite been able to win many trophies in recent memory. They don’t quite have a deadly, towering striker in the mould of Easton Ongaro, but Michael Gregoritsch isn’t far off.
The Royal Blues have an excellent academy structure as well, having produced talents such as Leroy Sané, Mesut Özil, and Manuel Neuer.
Plus, FC Edmonton fans can certainly get behind a club that’s desperate for its first goal this season against a derby rival, right? That’s what Schalke will be looking for when they take on Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. They’ve got some work to do to climb up the table from sixth, but a Revierderby win this weekend would help.