Dortmund dismisses title talk as Bayern tries to regain form

Runaway leaders Dortmund take on erratic Werder Bremen on Saturday with coach Jürgen Klopp dismissing any title talk, while Bayern Munich try to bring their Champions League form to the Bundesliga.

Dortmund dismisses title talk as Bayern tries to regain form
Dortmund coach Klopp on the sidelines against FC Nuremburg, Dec. 5. Photo: DPA

Klopp’s side have a ten-point lead at the top of the table, with two league matches left this year, and will start 2011 as the team to beat in Germany.

Dortmund have won their last six games and their only defeat came at Bayer Leverkusen on the opening day of the season back in mid-August.

Since then they have won 13 of their 15 league matches and while his side have been dubbed Autumn champions, Klopp refuses to talk titles until next May.

“That title really has zero meaning for us,” said Klopp. “In any case, I have never seen a banner or trophy which says Autumn champions 2010.”

His side is full of young talented players who have all come of age this season and Klopp finds himself in the unusual position of fielding questions about Dortmund’s chance to win their first league title since 2002.

“It is more important we keep playing well. Every game is like a final for us, the next game is always the most important for me,” said the 43-year-old.

Bremen are tenth in the league, but are having a poor season by their own standards and went out of the Champions League on Tuesday, despite a 3-0 win over holders Inter Milan.

Thomas Schaaf’s side are erratic, but were buoyed on Wednesday by the news striker Hugo Almeida, who is out of contract in June, has said he will not leave in January’s transfer window.

The Portugal star is suspended for Saturday night’s game, while Klopp can expect to select from a virtual full-strength side.

With five months still left of the season, defending champions Bayern are already waving the white flag in terms of the title race as coach Louis van Gaal said last weekend the 17-point gap behind Dortmund looks too big to close.

Bayern host St Pauli on Saturday at Munich’s Allianz Arena and, after last Saturday’s shock 2-0 defeat at Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, van Gaal’s side need to get back to winning ways as they are seventh in the league.

Munich remain without their trio of injured stars Ivica Olic, Miroslav Klose and Arjen Robben, who are all expected back in the new year with Bayern through to the last 16 in Europe.

After a disastrous start to the season, Schalke have won six of their last 10 games and despite being 15th in the league have reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

Their 2-0 defeat of Munich took the league by surprise and second-placed Mainz will have their work cut out to cope with them on Sunday.

Having started the season with a hiss and a roar, Mainz are faltering and have lost four of their last six league games.

Stuttgart manager Jens Keller badly needs a win at Hannover on Friday night with rumours circulating he will be replaced during the winter break by former Hamburg and Leverkusen boss Bruno Labbadia.

Hanover are chasing their fifth straight win and are up to fourth in the table, while Stuttgart are 16th and inside the dreaded relegation zone.


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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.