The process of German unification was a long one, with it taking well over 100 years for all of those 250 little statelets to fuse into one state with the help of the guile of Bismarck. Today’s Bismarck is known as Bayern Munich, who appear to have the power to unite nearly everybody else against them. They are the most successful team in German football history, with their success, leading to huge wealth and an ability to lure talent from pretty much anywhere in the world, leading to huge envy on the part of supporters of other clubs, who feel that Bayern’s success is the cause of their misfortune. But they are good to watch.
At their origins, it was all very different. Football in Germany really takes off around the 1890-1900 mark, with the football clubs growing out of the Turnvereine – gymnastics clubs – popularised by Hans-Ludwig-Jahn. They sprung up amongst people with pretty educated backgrounds, and frequently were also a front for groups opposing the autocratic government of the time, and particularly amongst university students and in the Gymnasien (grammar schools). Munich’s first club was TSV 1860, founded indeed by essentially middle-class university students; it bears the name 1860, though that was the foundation of the sports club and not the football part which didn’t begin playing until the turn-of-the-century. Bayern’s origins were much more down-to-earth, and interestingly, many of the founding members were not from Bavaria at all. Over the years the clubs have rather crossed over with Bayern becoming the representatives of the middle class and wealth (though of course with all kinds of supporters really) whilst 1860 are frequently being characterised as to the left/anarchistic/dog on a string. They do however share a stadium.
Should Bayern München be more careful? – RB Leipzig: Can Germany’s most-hated club catch Bayern Munich? BBC Sport finds out why RB Leipzig are one of the most ostracised clubs in Germany, and asks whether they can defy the odds and rival fans to triumph in this year’s Bundesliga. For more information click here.