Bundesliga 2008: Bayern churn as Hoffenheim live the dream

Bayern Munich started and finished the year in their customary position amongst the league's top sides, but the real story of the Bundesliga in 2008 was the fairytale rise of new boys Hoffenheim.

Bundesliga 2008: Bayern churn as Hoffenheim live the dream
Photo: DPA

When Bayern kicked off the year as league leaders with a 2-1 win at Hansa Rostock in the Bundesliga at the end of January, Hoffenheim were only mid-table in the second division. There were clues of the drama to come as the club from a south-west German village with a population of 3,000 spent the spring rising up the table, claiming numerous illustrious scalps along the way.

By mid-March, Hoffenheim were second in the second division, while up in the Bundesliga, Bayern had opened a five-point lead at the top.

In April, Hoffenheim had cut the gap behind leaders Mönchengladbach to just two points, but defeats by Aachen, St Pauli and Cologne saw them drop out of the top three. Promotion rested on the last game of the season in May and a 5-0 hammering of SpVgg Greuther Fürth completed the dream of Hoffenheim financial backer Dietmar Hopp to put the club he played for as a junior into the Bundesliga. In the top tier, Bayern Munich wrapped up their campaign with a ten-point


They lost just twice in the league all season and conceded only 21 goals. A goal difference of 47 was a final tribute to veteran goalkeeper Oliver Kahn who retired after 14 years at Munich at the season’s end.

The only blot came in the UEFA Cup where Zenit St Petersburg hammered Bayern 5-1 in the semi-final over two legs. Bayern still finished with the German league, cup and league cup titles, but then they had to endure one of their worst ever starts to the season under new coach Jürgen Klinsmann.

They were unimpressive as they drew their first two games in August while Hoffenheim won both of theirs to top the table before Bayer Leverkusen brought them back to earth with a 5-2 defeat in their third game.

Wins over Hertha Berlin and Cologne then had Bayern’s bosses confidently declaring they were on the right track. But that was before Werder Bremen came to Munich’s Allianz Arena and ripped apart the home side to claim a humbling 5-2 win.

Bayern’s confidence was in tatters and the German press rounded on Klinsmann, who had introduced a new system, an eight-hour working day for the players and had the club’s training facilities renovated.

Munich slumped 1-0 to mid-table Hannover in their next game on September 27, the same day Hoffenheim went down 5-4 at Werder Bremen to go sixth in the table.

Bayern’s lowest point of the year followed when they conceded two goals in the last ten minutes as minnows VfL Bochum managed a 3-3 draw which left Munich 11th in the league as October began.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was by now issuing daily pledges that Klinsmann’s position was safe, but it was clearly growing precarious. For Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick things were improving as wins over Hannover and Eintracht Frankfurt left his side second by mid-October, just a point behind new leaders Hamburg.

By the start of November, it was down to a three-horse race between Bayern, Hoffenheim and Leverkusen. On successive weekends at the end of the month, Bayern beat Leverkusen then Hoffenheim and looked set to start the winter break as league leaders, but their 2-2 draw at Stuttgart and Hoffenheim’s 1-1 draw at Schalke means Rangnick’s side finish the season top.

Whether Germany’s fairytale club can sustain their impressive form into 2009 remains to be seen.

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.