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FM Time Machine: The Rise and Demise of German Football

FM time machine feature

Some pundits claim there is a new rising, a shift in power, a super force that can’t be moved. No its not a horde of orcs or those squeaky Daleks, I am referring to German Football of course.

For many years zee Germans have staked a claim for brewing incredible youth, though falling short in Europe has always been their trademark. In recent years Bayern Munich were unfortunate to lose in two Champions League finals, but German Football still didn’t pose a threat to powerhouse clubs such as Man Utd, Chelsea and Barcelona etc. Now, in 2013, all that has changed.

cl german final

Two German clubs will meet for the first time in a Champions League final and both seem more than worthy. Thrashing Barcelona and Real Madrid has officially put Bayern and Dortmund on the map as the best in Europe, not only in results but for some incredible Football…but what does this mean, will German Football surpass Spain and England as the elite? Maybe Football Manager 2013 holds the answer.

I started a test save, then holidayed from the year 2012 through to 2022. I have documented the progress of German Football and I’m now ready to share the results. Our Journey begins in the year 2012/13, so buckle up, this Tardis can provide a bumpy ride…

season 12-13

Just like its real life counterpart, 2012/13 saw FC Bayern win the league with ease, Dortmund played second fiddle. Not difficult to predict that I guess, but what if I told you Bayern also won the Champions League beating Man City, OK I guess Dortmund only made the Quarter’s so not quite right. However, FC Bayern made the Champions League final drawing just once and losing twice, exactly the same form as they managed in real life.

Sure, there’s some iffy stats in there but what I’m trying to demonstrate is that FM has understood and shown Bayern’s dominance before it even happened. So if Football Manager can predict this, how will German Football progress in the future…lets take a look at the statistics.


In real life the Bundesliga has been very competitive, that is until 2012/13. FM sees the dominance of Bayern continuing well into the future. The domestic honors were won by FC Bayern every season from 2013 until 2021, all bar one, Dortmund finished top in 2016. The top three were occupied by Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke every single season bar 2018 when HSV broke into 3rd.

So it would seem the Bundesliga has become a three team league, but how did that effect Zee German’s chances in Europe?


After Bayern won this competition in 2013, Dortmund were then runners up in 2015. The Bundesliga performed so well they were even awarded an additional place for the competition in 2014/15. However, it was all downhill from there as the graph below demonstrates, such a fall from grace saw Germany lose their fourth Champions League spot for 2016/17. (The line chart below shows the best finish by an individual German club each season.)

champions league line chart

The Europa League doesn’t make for happy reading either. Almost every season was a disappointment for German clubs in general until FC Bayern were runners up in 2021.

Bundesliga reputation

Every league in the world is awarded a star rating that goes towards their competition ranking. The game starts with England’s Premier League top of this list, La Liga in second and Bundesliga third.

After Bayern were crowned kings of Europe in 2013 the Bundesliga rose above La Liga to second in terms of reputation. They held that status for 4 seasons before dropping below La Liga and even Serie A. Then in 2019 the French Ligue 1 pipped the German’s leaving Bundesliga in a lowly 5th position.

Thats right, after performing so well the Germans threw it away and fell so low that four domestic leagues were seen as better and more reputable, all this despite been the second best league in the world just 6 years prior.

bundesliga reputation line graph

Player movement in Germany

The Bundesliga really did rise and fall like the Roman Empire, but what was the cause? I think one major factor could be transfers, take a look at the list below…

  • From 2012 to 2017 Dortmund sold Lewandowski, Subotic, Reus, Bender and Gundogan. The clubs that benefited were City, United, Chelsea and PSG.
  • The history changing transfer for me was Lewandowksi, he moved to PSG for £14.5 million during 2014. The Pole then won the Golden Shoe five seasons in a row from 2016-2021. Without those goals, PSG would not have risen, meaning the French Ligue 1 would not have overtaken the Bundesliga. Also, Dortmund would have performed far better in Europe and bumped up German Football in general.
  • Other important players to leave Germany were Papadopoulos, Volland, Ter Stegen and Draxler. These guys could be seen as the main reason for a lack of competition domestically, the smaller clubs have limited talent and it would seem they sold some of the best…especially Schalke.

So, Football Manager 2013 came close predicting the fate of German Football during 2012/13, but what of the future? Could the history been written during my test save come true, will the Bundesliga rise to second best, leaving La Liga or even the Premier League in its wake?

Well, judging by what we’ve seen in real life I think its safe to say German Football is firmly on the map. Next season will be important for establishing their superiority in Europe, but it doesn’t end there and that is what I think FM demonstrates very well. To remain at the top of European Football you have to be constantly moving forward and reinventing yourself, not selling your best players and hoping to rely on your youth structure alone.

Football Manager predicts the Bundesliga will be more of a selling league and as a result their rise could be short lived, but if reality takes a different path then Spanish and English Football will most certainly be under threat, including our treasured 4th Champions League spot, which could be taken away.

Well that’s all for this ‘FM Time Machine’ post, this will be a continued feature on FMS going forward. Myself and Johnny will take turns posting every fortnight and we felt it important to add some form of topical posts to compliment the guides and tactics we provide, so I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to comment below, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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Interesting article. Will be interesting to see the difference for a similar type thing in FM14 as Germany will be even stronger, thus having a higher rep

Gaurav Chaddah
Gaurav Chaddah

Great idea guys and a excelllent write up Darren, I think German football is on the up.

I think Bayern won’t be so dominant as yout test save suggests due to the fantastic players Dortmund have coming through however woth pep coming in it maybe,so next season is gonna be intresting, considering Dortmdund have lost Gotze and might be loisng Lewandoskwi.

Dortmunds fantastic youth has been replicated in FM, could be worth a go.

Looking forward to the next one.


Do australia next


Did you have the german national team unlocked for that save? I was wondering how this would affect german talent for the future.

Miles Smith

The AI are just not very good when it comes to transfers. For example how often do we see a reasonably big team sell a player (under no pressure to do so) and then replace them not with a better player, a cheaper player or several cheaper players but with a player who is not only worse than their previous signing but he costs the same as well.

Because England starts out with all the buying power all the really talented players end up there.

Johnny Karp

I think it’s fairly realistic to be honest, Borussia will probably sell their top players in real life too. Not sure about Bayern though, they always seem to be very strong and always manage to do some great business on the transfer market with a lot less cash than Man City for instance.


Great idea and it will be interesting to see how reality matches fantasy. How long did this save take?


[…] timing of the deal is as such that only yesterday Football Manager Story ran a story on the rise and demise of German football. They simulated the years 2012 through to 2022 on Football Manager 2013 and noticed that after a […]


[…] timing of the deal is as such that only yesterday Football Manager Story ran a story on the rise and demise of German football. They simulated the years 2012 through to 2022 on Football Manager 2013 and noticed that after a […]


Very interesting. In a long range save I once did Norway became the kings of football, their teams dominating the Champions League for a quarter century, then overnight they collapsed, their league fell from world’s best to about 6th in three years.


[…] game from us to get access to the beta version two weeks before the full game release. You can also take your chance in our FM14 giveaway, one of the three free activation codes could be […]

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