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Bremen coach says team must prove worthy of Bundesliga title

Werder Bremen welcome striker Claudio Pizarro back for Saturday's key Bundesliga clash against Schalke 04 with coach Thomas Schaaf insisting his side must prove they are Bundesliga title contenders.

Bremen coach says team must prove worthy of Bundesliga title
Photo: DPA

Unbeaten Leverkusen are three points clear at the top of the table, but second-placed Bremen need to beat Schalke, who are third, to keep the pressure on the league leaders.

Peru’s Pizarro, who has scored six league goals in just eight games, has been out for four weeks with a foot injury and is expected to partner Germany’s rising star Marko Marin up front in the clash at Bremen’s Weserstadion.

“Up until now we have made a good start,” said Schaaf, whose side has been beaten just once in the league after 15 matches. “Now we must show that we can win the big games and give a clear signal we are in the comptition.”

Bremen will also have Germany trio goalkeeper Tim Wiese, plus midfielders Mesut Özil and Aaron Hunt back in the side with Leverkusen playing bottom side Hertha Berlin in the capital on Friday night.

Bayern Munich will be looking to pick up at Bochum where they left off in Turin having booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 4-1 win over Juventus last Tuesday.

After a poor start to the season, the win looks to have secured the future of Bayern’s Louis van Gaal’s side who are now up to fourth in the table.

Bochum are 15th in the league, but Germany forward Mario Gomez – who scored a stunning goal against Juventus – says the league game is crucial.

“We have another important match on Saturday,” said the Bayern striker. “We have to follow up the result in Turin, and we’re determined to do so.”

Stuttgart might be 16th in the Bundesliga table and in the dreaded relegation zone, but having reached the Champions League’s last 16, new coach Christian Gross will be hoping they can build on their European success.

Gross took over from Markus Babbel as coach last Sunday and enjoyed immediate success when his side beat Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni 3-1 on Wednesday.

With just two wins to their credit from 15 games, Stuttgart on Sunday need to beat Mainz, who are ninth, to get out of the bottom three and boost some low morale.

Ex-Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann landed himself in hot water in the wake of Babbel’s dismissal by claiming his Stuttgart bosses bowed to pressure from angry fans.

Team manager Horst Heldt has said there will be consequences for Lehmann.

Having been dumped out of the Champions League on Tuesday after Manchester United beat them 3-1 at home, defending German champions Wolfsburg have the chance to get their league campaign back on track at home to Dortmund on Sunday

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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. 

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