Mainz tops Bundesliga table as Cologne sacks coach Soldo

Mainz went top of the Bundesliga on Sunday as a second-half goal from Andreas Ivanchitz gave the German minnows a 1-0 win over Leverkusen, while Dortmund needed a dramatic late goal to draw with Hoffenheim.

Mainz tops Bundesliga table as Cologne sacks coach Soldo
Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo celebrates at the final whistle. Photo: DPA

Mainz took the lead when coach Thomas Tuchel brought rising stars Austria midfielder Ivanschitz and striker Andre Schürrle off the bench: teenager Schürrle supplied the final pass and Ivanschitz scored in the 70th minute.

Struggling Bundesliga side Cologne, meanwhile, sacked its Croatian coach Zvonimir Soldo on Sunday in the wake of the team’s 2-1 defeat at Hannover.

Mainz’s win gave the club their eighth win in nine games and put them two points clear of second-placed Dortmund, while Leverkusen are now fifth.

Earlier Dortmund needed a dramatic last-minute free-kick to salvage a point from their 1-1 draw against ten-man Hoffenheim.

With time almost up, Brazil midfielder Antonio da Silva curled in his shot in the 93rd minute and, amid the tense scenes, Hoffenheim midfielder Sejad Salihovic was sent off as he screamed his protests at the referee.

A single first-half goal from Hoffenheim’s Demba Ba had earlier given them the lead in a bad-tempered match in front of 80,000 fans as Hoffenheim recorded 30 fouls in 90 minutes and received five yellow cards.

In an action packed opening 15 minutes, Hoffenheim took the lead after nine minutes following a pass from Brazilian Luiz Gustavo which found Senegal striker Ba at the far post and he beat Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.

Dortmund were then denied an equaliser in controversial fashion.

Referee Wolfgang Stark awarded Dortmund a penalty on 15 minutes when Hoffenheim’s Ghana defender Isaac Vorsah handled in the area.

Dortmund’s Turkey midfielder Nuri Sahin slammed home the penalty, but Stark demanded the penalty be taken again because a home player had strayed into the area and Hoffenheim goalkeeper Tom Starke saved the second attempt.

The home side laid siege to the Hoffenheim goal, but could not convert their chances until the last minute.

“The draw was earned, we threw everything into the attack to try and get the goal,” said relieved Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.

“The repetition of the penalty was crazy, but if I said anything more about the referee I would probably be banned for life. There were three or four brutal decisions against us.”

Stuttgart are up to 14th and out of the relegation zone after they earned a 2-0 win over St Pauli as new coach Jens Keller picked up his first win since taking charge.

Defender Georg Niedermeier and Serbian midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic scored the goals for Stuttgart.

On Saturday, Champions League side Werder Bremen moved up to eighth after their 4-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Cologne’s decision to sack 42-year-old Croatian coach Zvonimir Soldo, meanwhile, came as no surprise, since his team has recorded just one victory this season after nine games and were second from bottom before Sunday’s matches.

“The decision was not easy to take, but (Soldo) hadn’t managed to stop this losing streak,” said club president Wolfgang Overath. “The team showed so little against Hanover that we thought it necessary to act.”

Having taken charge in July 2009, Soldo, a former Stuttgart player, spent last season battling to keep his team in Germany’s top flight.

His successor looks set to be former Hamburg and Dortmund coach Thomas Doll, who was sacked by Turkish club Genclerbirligi recently.

Soldo is already the second Bundesliga coach to lose his job this season after Swiss trainer Christian Gross was sacked by Stuttgart earlier this month.


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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.