Bayern ‘won’t leave Hoffenheim in peace’ until they’re back on top

Bayern Munich coach Jürgen Klinsmann insists his side will give Bundesliga leaders Hoffenheim no peace until they are back at the top of the table - starting this weekend.

Bayern 'won't leave Hoffenheim in peace' until they're back on top
Photo: DPA

With Hoffenheim playing fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Friday, defending champions Bayern can go top if they pick up all three points against Hertha Berlin at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday and Hoffenheim only manage a draw or worse.

Despite being second in the table, Bayern have yet to claim top place in the league this season – mainly due to erratic form.

Having started the year with a shock defeat at Hamburg which left them fourth, Bayern were the only team in the top five to win last weekend and they are now just one point behind Hoffenheim.

“We’re close to Hoffenheim. We’ll not leave them in peace now, and we want to overtake them in the next few weeks,” said Klinsmann whose side beat Dortmund 3-1 last Sunday.

And the players are getting restless with the situation.

“We’re all aware of the standings,” said Bayern goalkeeper Michael Rensing. “We want to go top as soon as possible, as we’re tired of playing catch-up. We want the others looking at us.”

Klinsmann says his side must ignore results elsewhere and concentrate on their own performance.

“It’s only a matter of time. We’ll pass Hoffenheim soon,” said the ex-Germany boss. “If we stop dropping points, we’ll automatically go top of the pile at some point.

“We’ve learned from our set-back in Hamburg. We have to follow up after successful displays.”

Berlin will have captain and Germany defender Arne Friedrich back after a back injury while Bayern only have defender Massimo Oddo missing, through suspension.

Fourth-placed Hamburg meanwhile are looking to bounce back from their shock 3-2 defeat at Karlsruhe last weekend when they host Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

Croatia striker Ivica Olic goes straight back into the Hamburg side after his ban for fighting in a friendly against Hoffenheim in January.

But top-scorer Mladen Petric is banned after being shown a red card last weekend at Karlsruhe.

Having taken over the Stuttgart helm in November after Armin Veh was sacked, Markus Babbel has pulled the team up to sixth place and they are at strugglers Hannover on Saturday.

After going into freefall in the league, Werder Bremen host bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach with coach Thomas Schaaf having been given the dreaded vote of approval by Bremen bosses.

Schalke are eighth in the league and are home to second-from-bottom Bochum, but things took a bizarre twist on Wednesday when a hacker posted an announcement on their website saying Kevin Kuranyi had been released.

The club immediately denied it, but Kuranyi has been a forlorn figure recently and the false announcement even tricked a few of his team-mates.

In the weekend’s other fixtures, mid-table Borussia Dortmund host Energie Cottbus, Karlsruhe travel to Cologne and Eintracht Frankfurt host VfL Wolfsburg.

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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.