The four are separated by just four points in the table – but what are the differences between them off the field according to fans?
Our YouGov FootballIndex service monitors 16 metrics for 34 clubs in Germany, tracking the public’s perceptions of them every day of the year. What does this data tell us about the top teams’ performance off the field?
Let’s begin with seeing which clubs are being perceived as successful. This, of course, is not just a reflection of the Bundesliga table but may take into account all kinds of other factors, like club size, available resources, or challenges faced.
In the chart above, you can see the top five teams for this metric – and it closely resembles the top of the Bundesliga table. Remember that these are current scores, and they will adjust over time as results and circumstances change. But nevertheless, the two stand-out results are from Bayern, who tower above everyone, and from RB Leipzig, a club formed just over ten years ago. In fact, when we include non-German teams in this ranking, RB Leipzig beat even teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Moving away from perceptions of success, which clubs are creating the most engagement? We measure this in a couple of ways. The first is Buzz, which creates a net score based on whether respondents have heard something positive or negative about a club in the past week. The second is Word of Mouth Exposure, which reveals which clubs people have been talking about with family and friends.
Here are the scores for the top four clubs (we show the top four here, rather than top five, because the fifth team in each of these rankings is different).
The first thing to notice here is the correlation between the teams Germans consider to be most successful and those which are most talked-about – the four teams that came out top for Success (and who are top of the Bundesliga table) all came out top for our Word of Mouth and Buzz metrics too.
Bayern, again, towers over its competitors for Word of Mouth but for positive chatter (our Buzz metric) it’s Dortmund who are currently coming out on top. Meanwhile, RB Leipzig is third-placed for both (up a remarkable 11 places on six months ago for Buzz and up five places for Word of Mouth).
Now that’s all well and good. But does a team’s profile translate into what’s arguably most important for clubs – fandom?
We measure support in a couple of different ways. First, we ask the respondent, regardless of whether they are a fan of a team or not, which teams they find likeable. And then we also ask respondents which is their favourite team.
For the second measure, which essentially measures fanbase size, it’s no surprise to see Bayern Munich and Dortmund out in front. But what doesn’t fit the common narrative is RB Leipzig’s performance here, pushing Koln hard for the position of Germany’s third favourite team. Many pundits talk of Leipzig as a kind of ugly duckling of German football but among the public, the club has gained real support.
And when we look at what clubs the public feels are the most likeable, RB Leipzig are also up there – in fourth, behind established giants like Bayern, Dortmund and Mönchengladbach. That’s something that reflects the viewing habits of the public too – all four of these teams are in the top five (along with FC Schalke 04) for teams watched live (on TV, on the internet or in person) in the past three months.
Of course, the Bundesliga title will not be decided by these kinds of scores. But what they do tell us is that the German public has room in its heart for both the traditional giants of the game, as well as its young upstarts. That’s a healthy position for any league to find itself in.