Germany’s Most Successful Football Clubs Ever (May, 2021)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. It is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones, however.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain the most successful clubs in each nation. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Germany and its Bundesliga

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Germany has a massive football culture and its success at national team level reflects this. The Bundesliga has a lower profile though. It has the highest match attendances in Europe but was only founded as late as 1962, with earlier national championships decided through a playoff system similar to N. America’s MLS. Germany’s most successful club has a huge global profile and German clubs have played a solid part in UEFA’s history – 7 clubs hold at least 1 major UEFA trophy in their cabinets. German clubs have scored a modest 134 Success Points in international competitions.

It’s one of the world’s strongest leagues, capable of attracting global superstars and with tv rights deals in total (shared between Bundesligas 1 and 2) worth well over a billion Euros for 2019.

(Note: Pre Bundesliga German Football Championships (GFCs) are counted as titles even though they were not ’round robin’ formats.)

Scroll down to the bottom to view the full table of Germany’s most successful clubs!


Read below to find out which 3 clubs are Germany’s ‘Big 100+ Clubs’ and Germany’s most successful:

3. FC Nurnberg

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Points: 101

Earliest Trophy Won: German Football Championship (GFC), 1920

Latest Trophy Won: DFB Pokal, 2007

Most Successful Manager: Izidor Kürschner – 18 points (1920–1921)

European football has a number of ‘dormant giants’; clubs which were once the top teams to beat but have won little in decades since. England’s Aston Villa is one, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise of Belgium is another. In Germany, it is Nurnberg FC.

Founded in 1900, by 1909 it won its first regional championship and by 1920 won its first national championship. By this point, it had become known simply as ‘Der Club’ on account of its dominance of German football – from July 1918 to February 1922, the team went unbeaten in 104 official matches. The ‘20s were its most successful decade when it was crowned German Champions 5 times, gaining 45 points.

After that decade, their glory years would fade due to a more fast paced game that evolved. Their more slow and deliberate style, which allowed them to shut out their opponents, became outdated. The 1930s and ‘60s would also be successful for Nurnberg, however and this makes them the 3rd most successful club in Germany and just pushes them into the ‘Big 100+’.

2. Borussia Dortmund

Points: 120.5

Earliest Trophy won: GFC, 1956

Latest Trophy won: DFB Pokal, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld, 28 points (1991 -1998)

Although ‘Die Borussen’ (The Borussians) have a big reputation in Germany and Europe, it only has a modest number of Success Points and this is partly explained by the fact that, despite being founded as early as 1909, Dortmund won nothing major until 1956. It managed to win the Title the year after to make it two in a row however and has managed to win Titles consecutively in the ’90s and early 2010s as well.

It was the first German club to win a UEFA trophy – a UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup in 1966. Borussia also became one of Germany’s most prolific clubs after German reunification at the start of the 1990s, regarded as its glory years. In addition to its 2 Titles in that period, it won a Champion’s League (CL).

Despite financial difficulties it’s the only club that comes close to competing with Germany’s superstar club. It sits 2nd in the national Success Rankings.

1. FC Bayern Munich

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Points: 490.5

Earliest Trophy won: GFC, 1932

Latest Trophies won: Bundesliga, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Udo Lattek, 86 points (1970 – 75 and 1983 – 87)

Bayern Munich is a true member of European royalty, having reigned supreme over German football since the 1970s.

These blue bloods have managed to amass over 400 points and achieved feats such as winning the then European Cup 3 times in a row from 1974 – 76; winning the Bundesliga 3 times in a row from 1972 – 74, 1985 – 87 and 1999 – 2001; and as of 2021, it has been the Bundesliga Champion for 9 years. Bayern have won over half of all Bundesliga Championships.

This monopoly over the Bundesliga probably doesn’t do the league any favours as a one horse race isn’t exciting and probably effects how lucrative its broadcast rights deals are and how attractive the league and BM are to the world’s top managers and players.

For the 2020 season, however, Bayern managed an unprecedented total sweep of every trophy for the season; scooping all 6 trophies and 28 success points! This club is a global superstar and will remain Germany’s most successful club for the foreseeable future.

The Best of the Rest

5th placed Hamburger SV sits just outside of the ‘Big 100+’ but enjoyed a particularly successful period from 1975 to 1983. During this time they grabbed 3 Titles and a European Cup amongst other trophies, mostly under the guidance of manager Ernst Happel.

6th placed SV Werder Bremen scored 34.5 out of their total 80.5 points by winning 2 Bundesligas and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup plus other trophies in a period from 1987 – 94.

Borussia Monchengladbach comes in at 7th by winning 6 Titles and 2 UEFA Cups and dominating German football in the 1970s. It did this with a young squad, an offensive-minded philosophy and powerful play.

Success Points Table

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (DFL Super Cup)1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (DFL Ligapokal)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (DFB Pokal)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (German Football Championship / Bundesliga)9
PositionClubPoint SubtotalsSuccess Point Total
1FC Bayern MunichSC: 8 x 1 = 8
UEFA SC: 2 x 2 = 4
FIFA CWC: 4 x 3 = 12
LC: 6 x 4 = 24
AC: 20 x 5 = 100
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
CL: 6 x 8 = 48
T: 31 x 9 = 279
+3 (Trebles)
490.5
2Borussia DortmundSC: 6 x 1 = 6
FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
CL: 1 x 8 = 8
T: 8 x 9 = 72
120.5
3FC NurnbergAC: 4 x 5 = 20
T: 9 x 9 = 81
101
4FC Schalke 04SC: 1 x 1 = 1
LC: 1 x 4 = 4
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
T: 7 x 9 = 63
99
5Hamburger SVSC: 3 x 1 = 3
LC: 2 x 4 = 8
AC: 3 x 5 = 15
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
CL: 1 x 8 = 8
T: 6 x 9 = 54
94.5
6SV Werder BremenSC: 2 x 1 = 2
LC: 1 x 4 = 4
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 4 x 9 = 36
78.5
7Borussia MonchengladbachSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 3 x 5 = 15
EL: 2 x 6 = 12
T: 5 x 9 = 45
73
8VfB StuttgartSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 3 x 5 = 15
T: 5 x 9 = 45
61
=9FC KaiserslauternSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 4 x 9 = 36
47
=9FC KolnAC: 4 x 5 = 20
T: 3 x 9 = 27
47
11Eintracht FrankfurtAC: 5 x 5 = 25
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
T: 1 x 9 = 9
40

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