Wolfsburg squeak out of relegation zone

Former Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg moved a step closer to safety on Sunday with a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at home with Eintracht Frankfurt, despite having been reduced to 10 men.

Wolfsburg squeak out of relegation zone
Photo: DPA

A second-half goal from Frankfurt midfielder Alexander Meier put the guests ahead before the Wolves had Germany defender Arne Friedrich sent off for a second yellow card. He will now miss Saturday’s game at Schalke 04.

But Wolfsburg hit back with an 85th-minute header from Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic to snatch a point which lifts them up to 16th in the table and two points away from escaping the bottom three.

Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath will be hoping for a more impressive performance when he returns to Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke this weekend after the Royal Blues sacked him last month.

Earlier Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic scored with virtually the last kick of the game to give his side a 1-0 win over Nuremberg and claim their seventh straight home win.

After his team had wasted a string of chances, Novakovic finally scored in the 92nd minute to claim his 12 goal of the season from 22 games and continue Cologne’s remarkable run.

The last time Cologne failed to win at home in the German league was back in November and the purple patch has seen them leave the relegation zone far behind to go tenth.

The defeat leaves Nuremberg sixth and just outside next season’s European places.

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund came from behind to floor Bundesliga title rivals Hanover 96 with a 4-1 victory which maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the table.

With six games left, Dortmund move ever closer to their first Bundesliga title since 2002 with second-half goals from Germany’s rising star Mario Götze, two by Paraguay’s Lucas Barrios and Kevin Grosskreutz.

“This was a very, very important win.” said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp. “I am very happy that and how we came back after falling behind against such a strong opponent.

“If you go 1-0 down, it is not a great position to be in, but we produced a great goal to get back in the game.”

Second-placed Leverkusen stayed in the title race thanks to a single goal from midfielder Sidney Sam which gave them a 1-0 win and three crucial points at Kaisterslautern.

Bayern Munich leap-frogged Hanover into third, thanks to their 1-0 win over bottom-side Borussia Mönchengladbach, who are destined to be in the second division next season.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben spared Bayern’s blushes with his ninth goal in 10 league games after missing the start of the season with injury.

The win puts Bayern seven points behind second-placed Leverkusen – and an automatic Champions League place next season – while ‘Gladbach are seven points from safety.

Midtable sides Hamburg and Hoffenheim played out a goalless draw on Saturday night.

Former German champions Stuttgart and Werder Bremen drew 1-1 with both sides still close to the drop-zone.

Fifth-placed Mainz 05 remain on course for a European place next season thanks to their 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.

The German Football Federation (DFB) are set heavily to punish relegation-candidates St Pauli following an attack on the assistant referee during Friday night’s game against Schalke 04.

With just a minute left of the match and Schalke leading 2-0, assistant referee Thorsten Schiffner was struck in the upper back by a cup full of beer and referee Deniz Aytekin abandoned the game soon after.


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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.