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How to watch the Bundesliga return, American players to know, the best and worst teams, and whom to root for

Jonathan Tannenwald, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Soccer

This weekend, Germany's Bundesliga becomes the first major soccer league in Europe to return to action after stopping because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's a viewer's guide to the players to know about, how to watch the games, and picking a favorite team.

If you're new to this

Let's get the simple stuff out of the way first. The Bundesliga has long been one of the world's best soccer leagues. There are star-studded powerhouses like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and many other teams sign top players from everywhere. There's also the vast domestic talent pool that has fueled Germany's four men's World Cups and three European championships. Few countries anywhere are better at the sport.

The Bundesliga is also one of the world's most entertaining soccer leagues, routinely leading Europe in average goals per game. Before the season was stopped on March 13, the Bundesliga was averaging 3.20 goals per game -- not only topping the continent for the third straight year, but also beating its own average from the last two campaigns.

Along with entertainment on the field, there's a great tradition of entertainment off the field. The Bundesliga has some of Europe's top attendances, including the highest per-game average among the continent's leagues in the last two full seasons. And fans don't just show up, they bring flags and scarves and unveil giant displays of banners that sometimes cover entire stands. Dortmund's "Yellow Wall," a 25,000-capacity end of their stadium, is the most famous example.

 

Unfortunately, you won't see any of that right now, or for a while. All games will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

How can you watch games?

Fox and Univision have U.S. broadcast rights. Games generally air on FS1 and FS2 in English, and on TUDN, UniMas and Fox Deportes in Spanish. The TV schedule for this weekend is at the bottom of this article. (Hopefully you'll read the rest of it first.)

Why can the Bundesliga play when other leagues aren't?

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