Sprechen Sie Bundesliga? 10 German Football Expressions & What They Mean

Borussia Dortmund v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga | Pool/Getty Images

The Bundesliga became Europe's first major league to return to action on Saturday as Germany's finest went out to strut their stuff in empty stadiums around the country.

Given it's the only source of football around right now, fans from across the world are tuning in just to get their football fix.

So you've picked your BuLi team, you've watched the action and you've made currywurst at home (probably).

Now for the next step in your German cultural lessons, here's a little cheat sheet to keep you up to speed with all the Bundesliga lingo.


Alassane Plea, Kingsley Coman
Borussia Moenchengladbach v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga | TF-Images/Getty Images

Literally translating as a 'fear opponent', any guesses as to what an Angstgegner could be?

It's how Germans describe a bogey team - a side who constantly seem to emerge victorious against another.

Historically, Borussia Mönchengladbach have always been Bayern Munich's bogey team, and with the two title hopefuls set to face off towards the end of the campaign, you might hear this word said once or twice.


Any phrase with the word 'banana' in automatically becomes cool. Flanke actually means 'cross', so what's a banana cross?

Well, it's actually the expression to describe a curled cross - either an inswinger or an outswinger.

'Hey, Trent Alexander-Arnold, that was a proper wicked Bananenflanke!'

Den Okocha Machen

Jay Jay Okocha
Bolton Wanderers v Fulham | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

No, Okocha isn't another funky German word. It's that Jay-Jay Okocha, the former Bolton Wanderers sensation who took the Premier League by storm.

Okocha's legacy was largely built from his love of pulling out a rainbow flick, sending the ball flying over his opponent's head without them even realising what he had done. Well, that's exactly what den Okocha machen means - 'to do the Okocha'.

Englische Woche

German football lexicon has taken plenty of inspiration from English, but the reasons behind doing so are always positive.

Englishe Woche literally translates as 'English week' and refers to a hectic gameweek in which teams have a midweek fixture as well as one on the weekend, which is hardly a rarity in the frantic, winter break-hating Premier League.

There's also a Wembley Tor, which means a 'Wembley Goal'. Basically, it's a goal which may or may not have crossed the line. Y

ou know, like a certain strike in a certain 1966 World Cup final...


A fahrstuhl is a lift. A mannschaft is a team. Put the two together and you get 'a lift team'.

A what?

A Fahrstuhlmannschaft is actually more of a yo-yo team, so it's a side who spend most of their time bouncing between the divisions like West Brom's famous 'Boing Boing' Baggies.


Andreas Albers, Stefan Thesker
SSV Jahn Regensburg v Holstein Kiel - Second Bundesliga | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Gedächtnisgrätsche is a great expression. It's the kind of word you'd hear frustrated pundits like Roy Keane (or at least his German equivalent, see Lothar Matthaus) throw around time and time again.

It's the term given to 'a good old tackle' that would have been common in the past, one of those two-footers that everyone argues is just letting the opponent know you're there.



You'll hear this one a lot over the next few months. English has 'behind closed doors' games, but German has Geisterspiele.

It literally translates to 'ghost games', which is probably the coolest way you could describe the atmosphere inside a stadium these days.


FC Bayern Muenchen v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga | TF-Images/Getty Images

This is what it's all about. Every team wants the Meisterschale, but only one side will get their hands on it.

It's the Bundesliga's equivalent of the Premier League trophy and is often referred to as the Salatschüssel (salad bowl), just to add to the fun of the whole thing.


Sonntagsschuss translates to 'a Sunday kick', which could mean all sorts of things. An awful challenge? An awful 40-yard strike from a centre-back? A martial arts move when tempers start to flare?

Actually, it's how Germans refer to an incredible goal/thunderbastard - the kind of thing you'd see in the park in Sunday League - so fingers crossed we see plenty of those over the coming weeks.


The race for the Torjägerkanone is heating up. Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner look set for a head-to-head shoot-out (pun not intended) for the league's top scorer award, and only a brave fan would confidently state who they felt was going to come out on top.

The Bayern man has held the trophy for the last two years and has won four of the last six, but he's got some work to do if he wants to ensure he makes it three in a row.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!