Talk About Football in German: Useful Fußball Vocabulary in Germany

For half of the world, football isn’t just a sport – and the German-speaking countries are no exception! The Bundesliga in Germany is the top-tier competition that has some of the world’s most skilled players and most successful teams. Austria and Switzerland also have their premier competition named Bundesliga and Super League. This blog post is everything you have to know about football in German.

The German Nationalmannschaft is the national team that is one of the most successful in the history of national football. Football’s importance can’t be overstated enough in these regions. Learn German has an in-depth special video about football vocabulary in German:

We know you’re here to learn how to talk about football as quickly as possible in German, but if you want to go beyond football and truly master German, we have just the thing for you: Conversation Based Chunking.
This method focuses on learning natural phrases and expressions (chunks) without worrying about grammar rules. Want to learn how to implement it?

1. A history of club football in Germany

Football in Germany has evolved into one of the most admired and closely followed sports since the beginnings in the late 19th century. The Bundesliga was officially founded in 1963. Today, it’s the top competition in Germany and with that, it’s also a very competitive league that has high attendance.

football in german bundesliga logo

The most successful team is Bayern Munich – nicknamed Die Roten (The Reds) – with 33 national titles, 20 domestic cup titles, and some European wins: 6 Champions League titles, 1 UEFA Cup titles, 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup title, 2 European Super Cup titles, 2 Intercontinental Cups and 2 FIFA Club World Cup titles.

Other prominent clubs in the Bundesliga are Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin, and Union Berlin – just to name some of them. They also contributed to the history of German football.

Der Klassiker is the biggest clash in the Bundesliga between two of the top-ranked teams: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. This match is often the most important of all if we’re talking about winning the Meisterschale (also called Salatschüssel). The stadiums are always packed with fans from all over the world.

football in german bayern vs dortmund

Austrian Bundesliga

Austria’s Bundesliga has its share of popular clubs like Rapid Wien and FC Red Bull Salzburg – the latter slowly progressing in the European competitions, too. These teams contribute to the Austrian league’s competitive spirit, although they have to admit, football isn’t one of the most important sports and not the main focus Olympics in German-speaking communities.

Swiss Super League

In Switzerland, the Swiss Super League is the top of national football competitions. Top clubs such as FC Basel and Young Boys have a rich history and are known for their competitive spirit in not only in the Swiss Super League, but also in European competitions.

2. A history of national German football

Germany’s national football team, die Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft, has a storied history full of success.

Germany has won four World Cup titles (1954, 1990, 1974, 2014) and three European Championships (1972, 1980, 1996). Although the national team has faced challenges recently, there’s an an unwavering commitment from the coaches and the players to reach excellence. The nation’s football academies are still popular and doing a great work so they can once again cheer together.

Austria and Switzerland’s national teams have also appeared in international competitions but the most successful of the mentioned three is Germany.

3. German vocabulary for soccer games

German football is synonymous with quality. To talk about one’s favorite team, knowing the German terms for various playing positions can be very useful.

Useful German vocabulary for playing positions

GermanEnglish
Der Torwart
Goalkeeper
Der Verteidiger
Defender
Der Innenverteidiger
Centre-back
Der Außenverteidiger
Full-back
Der Rechtsverteidiger
Right full-back
Der Linksverteidiger
Left full-back
Der Mittelfeldspieler
Midfielder
Der Zentrale Mittelfeldspieler
Central midfielder
Der Defensiver Mittelfeldspieler
Defensive midfielder
Der Offensiver Mittelfeldspieler
Attacking midfielder
Der Flügelspieler
Winger
Der Rechtsaußen
Right winger
Der Linksaußen
Left winger
Der Stürmer
Forward
Der Mittelstürmer
Centre forward
Der Angreifer
Striker
Der Kapitän
Captain
Die Ersatzspieler
Substitutes / Bench

If you want to explore these essential German phrases in real-life conversation, check this role-playing scenario:

George: Unser Torwart ist heute in Topform. (Our goalkeeper is in top form today.)
Rafael: Absolut, und der Innenverteidiger spielt auch stark. (Absolutely, and the centre-back is also playing strong.)
George: Unsere Flügelspieler setzen den Stürmer gut in Szene. (Our wingers are showcasing the forward well.)
Rafael: Hoffentlich bringt der Kapitän uns den Sieg. (Hopefully, the captain brings us the victory.)

Pay attention to this conversation and examine whether it uses chunks. What are chunks? Chunks are word combinations with a specific meaning that are almost always used together as building blocks in the language and that you don’t even think about as separate words – this is why native speakers use them all the time without remembering grammar definitions and explanations. You too, can learn about chunks and use them when you start practicing German sentences.

4. Talk about your favorite European football team in German

For fans and players alike, understanding football vocabulary in German can make your experience of the game better. This knowledge lets you share your passion for the sport with others.

Talk about your favorite team with these German phrases

GermanEnglish
Tor
Goal
Schiedsrichter
Referee
Abseits
Offside
Verlängerung
Extra time
Elfmeter
Penalty
Eckball
Corner kick
Freistoß
Free kick
Einwurf
Throw-in
Gelbe/Rote Karte
Yellow/Red card
Anstoß
Kick-off
Flanke
Cross
Kopfball
Header
Tackling
Tackle
Spielfeld
Pitch/Field
Mannschaft
Team
Auswechslung
Substitution
Trainer
Coach/Manager
Angriff
Attack
Verteidigung
Defense
Meisterschaft
Championship
Liga
League
Spielzug
Play
Pass
Pass
Sieg
Victory
Niederlage
Defeat
Unentschieden
Draw
Zuschauer
Spectator
Foul
Foul
Heimmannschaft
Home team
Auswärtsmannschaft
Away team
Schuss
Shot
Torlinie
Goal line
Seitenaus
Out of bounds
Pfeife
Whistle

Let’s take a look at a real conversation with these phrases:

Benjamin: Siehst du den Schiedsrichter? Er hat gerade Abseits gepfiffen. (See the referee? He just called offside.)
Hans: Ja, und jetzt gibt es einen Freistoß für die Heimmannschaft. (Yes, and now there’s a free kick for the home team. )
Benjamin: Diese Mannschaft macht heute viele Spielzüge. Das war ein toller Kopfball! (This team is making a lot of plays today. That was a great header! )
Hans: Ein Elfmeter könnte das Spiel entscheiden. Es steht immer noch Unentschieden. (A penalty could decide the game. It’s still a draw.)

5. Speak about the high quality German football world

Describing the moments that define a football match in German adds a layer of excitement for those watching—whether it’s a stunning goal or a dramatic save, these are the best phrases you can use!

Phrases you can use during the match

GermanEnglish
Das Tor!
The goal!
Was für ein Spielzug!
What a play!
Unfassbarer Schuss!
Unbelievable shot!
Rettung in letzter Sekunde!
Last-second save!
Er geht, er schießt – Tor!
He goes, he shoots – goal!
Kopfballtor!
Header goal!
Glanzparade des Torwarts!
Spectacular save by the goalkeeper!
Das war knapp!
That was close!
Abseitspfiff!
Offside call!
Die Spannung steigt!
The tension is rising!
Eine gelbe Karte!
A yellow card!
Direkt ins Eck!
Right into the corner!
Einwechslung.
Substitution.
Um ein Haar!
By a hair’s breadth!
Tor nach Eckball!
Goal from a corner kick!
Ein grober Fehler!
A gross mistake!
Ein brillanter Durchbruch!
A brilliant breakthrough!
Er hat den Ball!
He has the ball!
Der Pfosten rettet!
The post saves!
Die Menge tobt!
The crowd goes wild!
Die Verteidigung steht!
The defense holds!
Das Spiel ist aus!
The game is over!

6. Practice – Football vocabulary in German!

Complete the sentences below with the correct football-related terms in German based on the context provided.

If you want to practice more German, it’s your lucky day! Click the button below and get access to our Full Practice Worksheet Library.

7. Learn more about Die Mannschaft in Germany with Conversation Based Chunking

By integrating vocabulary and phrases learned throughout the article, you can get deeper into the high-quality world of German football. Conversation Based Chunking method can be effective to learn these terms in context.

For detailed information about Conversation Based Chunking and how to apply it to learning German football terms, you can explore our online resources with a 12-week program, a chunking list and an access to our full practice worksheet library.

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