Champions League contenders knocked by home defeats

German clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke warmed up in poor fashion for crunch Champions League clashes on Tuesday, each suffering a defeat at home in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Champions League contenders knocked by home defeats
Photo: DPA

Werder Bremen will play Dutch side FC Twente in Group A in the Champions League at home. But they were beaten 3-2 at home by Nuremberg in the German league.

Schalke will play at Hapoel Tel Aviv in Group B, but they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Leverkusen – the Royal Blues’ sixth defeat in 10 games.

Bremen need to beat the Dutch titleholders at home on Tuesday at the Weserstadion to keep their dreams of the Round of 16 alive and close the gap with Group A leaders and holders Inter Milan and second-placed Spurs.

But Bremen squandered a possible chance to get to third place in the German league and slumped to their fourth defeat of the season.

“After the early opening goal, we suddenly stopped being as threatening and dangerous,” fumed Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf. “In the second half, we just made it too easy for our opponents. We lost too much focus and we have to work much, much harder.”

Bremen took an early lead when Hugo Almeida was left unmarked at the far post and Germany winger Marko Marin found him with an accurate cross and the Portugal striker headed home after just five minutes.

But Nuremberg fought back as midfielder Ilkay Guendogan scored just before the half-time break, then fellow-midfielder Mehmet Ekici put the guests ahead on 47 minutes.

Nuremberg had numerous chances to extend their lead and scored their third goal when Guendogan scored his third goal in two games, drilling in his shot on 73 minutes to compound Bremen’s misery.

Werder Bremen’s Claudio Pizarro scored a consolation goal in the 92nd minute, but it failed to save the club’s embarrassment.

Later on Saturday evening, Schalke also prepared for their trip to Israel by slumping to their sixth defeat as they lost 1-0 at home to Leverkusen.

The defeat keeps them second-from-bottom in the table while Leverkusen go third after midfielder Sidney Sam hit the winner in the 65th-minute. “This has been a difficult start,” said Schalke’s Spanish striker Raul. “We are lacking a good performance in the Bundesliga. We must continue to fight and work. With passion, we will get out of this again.”

The key clash of the weekend is on Sunday when leaders Mainz are at home to second-placed Dortmund, but Eintracht Frankfurt went fourth after their 3-1 win at St Pauli.

Veteran Greece striker Theofanis Gekas scored twice to take him onto nine goals and the league’s top scorer after ten games.

Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko also netted twice in his side’s 2-0 win over Stuttgart while Hamburg were upset 3-2 at Cologne as Slovenian striker Milivoje Novakovic scored a hat-trick.

Defending German champions Bayern Munich scored a morale-boosting 4-2 win over Freiburg on Friday night after a sizzling second half brought three goals to move the Bavarians up to seventh spot.

Though Bayern have three wins from three in the Champions League, this was only Bayern’s fourth win in the Bundesliga this season and they were seventh in the league after Saturday’s games.

Defender Martin Demichelis scored the only goal of the first half before Mario Gomez on the hour, Anatoliy Timoshchuk and then Toni Kroos completed the rout.


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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.