German football is awesome, but it can also involve spending countless hours refreshing kicker’s Matchkalendar and sounding out various eight-hour Regionalbahn journeys on bahn.de, only to find out your away in Aalen is on a Friday at 6pm. For fans travelling from the UK, this can be even more frustrating and sometimes the only option you’re left with is to give Michael O’Leary’s firm rather more coin than you had planned on doing.
Over the years I’ve been following German football, the DFB and DFL have got better when it comes to announcing kick-off times (believe it or not). I’ve identified a few common patterns that I want to share here to ease the pain of waiting for something you feel is never going to arrive. So here we go:
First things first, organising fixtures and kick-off times is ridiculously complex – obvious things like 1860 and Bayern not being at home on the same weekend are combined with less obvious pairings (like the Mainz-Kaiserslautern-Frankfurt triumvirate, in which only one side can play at home at any given weekend) European competition and completely separate issues like athletics at the Olympiastadion or something.
Season frameworks vary, so this should be seen as a rough guide for the 2. Bundesliga.
The fixtures for the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga are announced at the beginning of the last week in June. For the last few years the dates have been 23 June (2014), 21 June (2013), 22 June (2012), 21 June (2011), so you can be fairly sure of this one.
First up – the final two matchdays of the season in both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga are already fixed, as every team is required to play at the same time (once at home, once away). So feel free to whip out Skyscanner and stick Aue into Google Maps for that final away match of the season. Joy of joys.
Matchdays 1 and 2 are usually before the first round of the cup, and in most cases the kick-off times are announced by the DFL relatively swiftly after fixtures are announced. This year, this happened one week later on 30 June 2014.
Kick-off times for the first round of the cup then follow, again relatively quickly after MD 1 and 2 have been announced. These are announced by the DFB, though, and there are about a million different potential kick-off times (ideal for a weekend of hopping). In 2014, these were: Friday 6pm & 8pm, Saturday 3:30pm, 6pm and 8:30pm, Sunday 2:30pm, 4pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm and Monday 6:30pm and Monday 8:30pm. It’s important to be aware of that when planning flights, especially those awful Monday 6:30pm ones.
The next major milestone are the draws for the playoff rounds of the Champions League and Europa League, which usually take place at the end of August. The draw for these is in late July, so expect the matchdays directly after this week – as a rule, from the end of August to mid-/late September – to be announced in early August.
Again, the Europa League (and to a lesser extent the Champions League) dictates kick-off times through the autumn. If Mainz 05 were to qualify for the Europa League group stage, that means they play every home match following a Europa League matchday on a Sunday, meaning that Eintracht Frankfurt and Kaiserslautern have to play away, and probably on the Friday and Saturday respectively. The Champions League and Europa League draws usually take place in the final week of August, giving the DFL a clear structure for midweek games through until mid-December. As a result, expect matchdays in October and early/mid-November through until/just after the second round of the cup (midweek, usually in the final week of October around Reformation Day [31 October] and All Saints Day [1 November]) to be announced approximately one week after the Champions League and Europa League draws.
This season (2014/15), the kick-off times for the rest of the matchdays from mid-/late November to Christmas have not been announced with the rest of the autumn fixtures, which is odd, as there don’t appear to be any other variables in autumn that would influence decisions. My guess would be that they are holding fire for TV (Sky/Sport1) to decide which matches are Topspiele and which aren’t. In 2012, the DFL announced kick-off times for all matches through to Christmas in early September. In 2013, the announcement came on 14 October.
Before Christmas, the Champions League and Europe League knockout rounds are drawn so the DFL usually announces the kick-off times from after the winter break (early/mid-February) through to mid-March before Christmas. You can be relatively sure on that.
From now on, a lot depends on when Easter falls. Watch out though: By law, no Bundesliga matches can be held on Good Friday – so all 2. Bundesliga/Bundesliga matches that would normally be played on the Friday evening that weekend take place on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Easter Sunday is fine though, strangely.
As at the start of the season, kick-off times for the rest of the season are dictated by the draws for the Champions League, Europa League and DFB-Pokal. If you are wondering when one particular fixture is going to be announced, my tip would be to check whether there are midweek European matches directly before or after and assume that the kick-off time/date will be announced shortly (usually one week) after the respective draw. As I mentioned earlier, this has been improving over recent years. As a guide, in the 2013/14 season the DFL announced the kick-off times for all remaining matches on 17 March.