Werder gunning for debutant Spurs

Werder Bremen will be looking to spoil Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League debut on Tuesday, as both sides try to make do without key injured players.

Werder gunning for debutant Spurs
Photo: DPA

Spurs are back among Europe football’s elite after a 48-year absence and travel to Bremen’s Weserstadion without England striker Jermain Defoe who has been ruled out for up to three months with ligament damage.

England defender Matthew Dawson is also missing with a medial ligament injury and both are expected to miss Tottenham’s entire Champions League group stage programme.

Bremen are without centre-back Per Mertesacker who fractured an eye-socket playing for Germany in a Euro 2012 qualifier last week. Brazilian defender Naldo and striker Claudio Pizarro may miss the game as they struggle to overcome knee injuries.

Even with defenders Mertesacker, and possibly Naldo out, Bremen can rely on their second-string defence as Sebastian Prödl und Petri Pasanen kept Bayern Munich’s star-studded attack at bay recently.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has admitted he has concerns ahead of the game after playmaker Luka Modric limped out of the 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. But Redknapp also gave debuts to new signings midfielder Rafael van der Vaart and former Arsenal defender William Gallas who look set to play in Bremen.

In contrast, a patched-up Bremen side held defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to a goalless draw at home on Saturday.

Bremen have new signings of their own in ex-Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre and Brazilian play-maker Wesley.

This will be Spurs’ first major European appearance since the 1961/62 season when they reached the semi-finals of the European Cup before losing to Benfica.

Bremen, by contrast, are back in the group stage after an absence of only 12 months, their failure to qualify last term halting a sequence of five consecutive appearances.

This is the first meeting between two teams who both qualified through the play-offs.

Bremen, third in the Bundesliga last term, defeated Sampdoria 5-4 on aggregate, winning 3-1 at home before losing the return 3-2 after extra time in Genoa.

Redknapp’s Tottenham, who finished fourth in the Premier League in 2009/10, also suffered a 3-2 away defeat in their play-off against Swiss side Young Boys, but bounced back with a 4-0 home victory in the second leg.

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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.