Bayern Munich hopes to return to winning ways after boost

Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic warned the German giants will use their midweek Champions League success to boost their flagging confidence in a highly-emotional Bundesliga game at Hannover on Sunday.

Bayern Munich hopes to return to winning ways after boost
Photo: DPA

Despite their 1-0 win over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday in Europe, Bayern are seventh in the Bundesliga table and six points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen who host struggling Stuttgart on Sunday.

But Bayern’s game promises to be an emotional afternoon at Hannover in the home side’s first match since captain and goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide on November 10.

More than 35,000 mourning fans attended the memorial service for the national team’s goalkeeper at Hannover’s stadium two weeks ago and this will be the first Bundesliga game played there since.

Munich coach Louis van Gaal has been told he must win all four remaining league games – starting with Hannover – to safeguard his job after drawing his last three league games.

Bayern’s last league victory came more than a month ago against Eintracht Frankfurt, but having recovered from a calf injury, Bayern forward Olic is ready to strike against Hannover.

“We deserved our victory against Haifa and now I hope we can go on and win all our matches before Christmas – starting with Hannover,” said Olic, who scored the winner on Wednesday.

“I was out for seven weeks and I played my first game with only a single training session with the team. My legs hurt now and I am tired, but I hope I can recover enough in the next few days before the Hanover match so I can be 100 percent again.”

It has been a trying week for Bayern, whose discontented Italian striker Luca Toni has been told by van Gaal he can leave in January’s transfer window.

Toni earned himself a €25,000 fine on Wednesday for telling the Italian media his relationship with van Gaal “is as good as over” following just four league appearances this season and he has been thrown out of the squad.

Undefeated Leverkusen is home to Stuttgart, whi are three from the bottom of the Bundesliga, with their last league win coming almost two months ago despite beating Glasgow Rangers last week to keep their Champions League dream alive.

Second-placed Werder Bremen are at home to defending champions VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday with Thomas Schaaf’s side having been beaten just once so far this season.

Wolfsburg, who are eighth in the Bundesliga, are still in contention for the knock-out stages of the Champions League despite being beaten 2-1 by CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

Third-placed Schalke, unbeaten in their last eight league games, are now serious title contenders as they are just two points behind Leverkusen and will be hoping for three more points against midtable Mönchengladbach.

Mainz, who have climbed their way up to sixth in the table, are home to fifth-placed Hamburg on Saturday who had some bad news when Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto was ruled out for the rest of the year.

The 35-year-old had surgery on Thursday for damaged ankle ligaments.

The news is bad news for Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia who has strikers Paolo Guerrero and Mladen Petric, winger Romeo Castelen, defenders Collin Benjamin, Alex Silva und Bastian Reinhardt all out with long-term injuries.

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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.