Shocking Wolfsburg loss leaves Bundesliga race open

Relegation-threatened Energie Cottbus threw the Bundesliga title race wide open on Sunday when the strugglers inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on league leaders Wolfsburg.

Shocking Wolfsburg loss leaves Bundesliga race open
Photo: DPA

Wolfsburg were cruising towards a point before Bulgaria striker Dimitar Rangelov headed Cottbus ahead in the 72nd minute and the hosts proved the goal was no fluke when Albania midfielder Ervin Skela added a second on 86 minutes.

The valuable three points takes Cottbus out of the bottom three while Wolfsburg missed the chance to go five points clear and suffered their first league defeat since they lost 2-1 at Werder Bremen in December.

“We wasted some big chances and therefore we lost the game,” said Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath. “Our forwards did not have their best day and when you don’t take your chances, you won’t win. We were not as strong and compact as we would have liked to be. For us it is about taking fifth place and getting into Europe next season, so things look good.”

The result is even more extraordinary as Cottbus were hammered 4-0 at Schalke in their last league game – a defeat so bad they offered their travelling fans a refund on their match tickets.

Despite the shock upset, Wolfsburg stay two points clear at the top of the table with Hertha Berlin second after midfielder Patrick Ebert hit a first-half goal to seal a 1-0 win at early-season pacesetters Hoffenheim on Friday.

The leaders’ defeat means three of the top five sides – Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Hamburg – all lost this weekend while Hertha and Stuttgart seized their chance, with three points now separating the top five.

Bayern’s 1-0 loss at home to Schalke on Saturday leaves the defending champions in third place, while Hamburg’s 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund puts Martin Jol’s side back in fifth.

With five matches remaining, Hamburg are on 54 points with both Stuttgart and Bayern, with Hertha Berlin on 55 and Wolfsburg leading with 57.

In Munich, Schalke grabbed a first-half winning goal through Turkey striker Halil Altintop before the Royal Blues had midfielder Jermaine Jones sent off for a second yellow card on 70 minutes to earn the consequential red.

Bayern then lost French midfielder Franck Ribery when he was shown a second yellow card on 76 minutes.

Dortmund have won five league games on the trot and are up to seventh in the table after their win over Hamburg.

Hamburg went behind when the ball was played in from the left and midfielder Sebastian Kehl shot past Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost after 32 minutes, with Swiss striker Alexander Frei then converting a 90th-minute penalty.

Stuttgart are fourth in the table after strikers Cacau and Mario Gomez scored in the 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt which keeps them in the five-way title race.

Werder Bremen came from 2-0 down to beat Bochum 3-2 thanks to goals from striker Hugo Almeida, Brazil defender Naldo and midfielder Diego, leaving them 10th as they prepare for Thursday’s UEFA Cup clash with Hamburg.

Bottom side Karlsruhe gave themselves a chance of staying up after beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 with one of the luckiest goals of the season.

Karlsruhe defender Sebastian Langkamp lunged at the ball on the halfway line to try to win possession, but got more than he could have dreamed of when the ball curled over the Leverkusen defence and goalkeeper Rene Adler and into the net.

His 72nd-minute strike leaves Karlsruhe two points behind relegation rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach, who drew 1-1 with Bielefeld on Sunday, while mid-table Hanover enjoyed a 2-0 win over Cologne on Saturday.

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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.