By James Nalton.
The term Englische Woche is used in Germany to describe a run of matchdays where teams play at the weekend, in midweek, then again at the weekend.
It derives simply from the fact that, with two domestic cup competitions, and leagues with more teams and therefore more games, it’s common for English sides to play during the week as well as on a Saturday or Sunday. An English week.
This latest Englische Woche will be the first of two as the Bundesliga looks to complete the 2019/20 season by the end of June, and this week could be the most English of them all.
There is increased attention on the German leagues given they are the only one of UEFA’s top five domestic competitions to have resumed playing in May.
As the season restarted, the fixture calendar threw up some of the league’s biggest fixtures. The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 kicked off reopening weekend, while there were two local rivalries in the most recent round of games including the first-ever top-flight Berlin derby at the Olympiastadion.
And this group of midweek fixtures will see the biggest game of them all — der Klassiker, between Germany’s two biggest clubs, title challengers Dortmund and defending champions FC Bayern.
British Isles eyes, and those from much of the rest of the football-watching world, will be on a league which is the only game in town.
— Gladbach (@borussia_en) May 7, 2020
The Bundesliga’s inventive English-language social media accounts have gone into overdrive, looking to attract new fans who they hope will stick around even when some higher-profile European leagues resume in June.
They have been trying to sell the league without one of its biggest and most unique features — the fans, and the atmosphere they create, the unique culture they instil at their clubs, plus the important identity this provides to help separate one football business from the next.
Supporters and members also retain some say in how their club is run in Germany thanks to the 50+1 rule, although some, such as RB Leipzig, have worked their way around this in recent years. Schalke 04 and FC Bayern remain two of the biggest clubs in the world whose members still own at least 75% of the club’s shares.
And speaking of Leipzig, the Bundesliga hasn’t had this much attention from British island shores since an army of Liverpool fans tuned in to games each week to watch Naby Keita play out his final few months at the Red Bull club before moving to Anfield.
On top of this, there is now even more interest for English football fans thanks to Jadon Sancho, who is not just a future star of the England national team, but also of interest to pretty much every big club in the Premier League.
Manchester United are the team most regularly linked to the Dortmund winger, while Liverpool fans now have a keen eye on another Leipzig sensation, Timo Werner.
Kai Havertz is one of the standout U21 players on the continent and is also attracting interest from English clubs, while 19-year-old striker Erling Haaland has reached double figures for goals despite only joining Borussia Dortmund in January. The Norwegian international is already a global star — one who was born in England during the time his father, Alf-Inge Håland, played in the Premier League.
Other English names to look out for in the Bundesliga include Schalke’s Jonjoe Kenny, Reece Oxford of Augsburg, Ademola Lookman at RB Leipzig, and Paderborn’s Antony Evans.
There are also the Wales internationals Ethan Ampadu and Rabbi Matondo, as well as a whole host of English-speaking players from the United States, including wonderkid Giovanni Reyna, who was also born in England when his father, Claudio, played for Sunderland.
A glance at a Bundesliga teamsheet brings to mind the early days of the Premier League when a varied collection of stars from around the world played alongside groups of promising young domestic players.
It is unlikely that Germany will ever be like the current version of the English Premier League, which is probably a good thing for German football and its fans, but thanks to the way the country has dealt with the coronavirus and the organisation around the resumption of football at as many levels as is possible, the Bundesliga has a chance to go global, even more than it already has.
This Englische Woche will witness plenty of noise from English-language supporters and media, even if there will be no noise in the stadiums. Some more partisan Bundesliga followers might point out that English fans will be used to this lack of atmosphere but, petty inter-league rivalry aside, this could be the most English of English Weeks.