Bundesliga preview: Bayern Munich looks to bounce back this weekend

Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger insists his team must unite at Wolfsburg on Saturday to bounce back from last weekend's shock defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach in their season opener.

Bundesliga preview: Bayern Munich looks to bounce back this weekend
Photo: DPA

Bayern were beaten 1-0 at home as last season’s relegation contenders left the Allianz Arena with their first win in Munich since 1995.

Having spent more than 40 million euros last summer on a host of signings – including Germany’s star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Jerome Boateng – defeat rocked the Bavarian giants.

But Schweinsteiger, who netted Germany’s opening goal in the 3-2 win over Brazil in midweek, says Bayern have to pull together if they are to loosen defending champions Borussia Dortmund’s grip on the Bundesliga crown this season.

“We need to play more as a team,” said the 27-year-old, after Bayern failed to recover from a poor start last season and finished without silverware.

“That was our problem during the start of last season. We must not make the mistake again: you need to have a good team spirit in order to succeed in football.”

Despite their undoubted individual class, Bayern still need to integrate new signings Neuer, Boateng and defender Rafinha, especially as a blunder by Neuer and Boateng led to ‘Gladbach’s goal last Sunday.

Wolfsburg opened their season with a 3-0 win over Cologne, but Germany’s victory over Brazil will help Bayern at the 2009 German league champions, says French midfielder Franck Ribery.

“When you have success with the national team, the two or three days break afterwards is good for the head,” said Ribery.

“‘Gladbach has been forgotten, now we have to win in Wolfsburg which is very important. We need to be more aggressive in our game and cannot wait for it.”

Wolfsburg’s former Bayern Munich midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic will face his old club having spent nine years with the Bavarian giants, including winning the 2001 Champions League title.

“I’m thrilled, I’m really looking forward to this game,” the 34-year-old Bosnian told Wolfsburg-based Allgemeine Zeitung having signed from Juventus in the summer.

“If I were to say now that this is just a normal game for me, I’d be lying. I had a great time at Bayern, but now I just want to get the best possible result with Wolfsburg. “Of course they are under pressure to win and we want to beat them.”

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund are at Hoffenheim with Germany star Mario Götze in a rich vein of form.

Having played a big part in Dortmund’s 3-1 hammering of Hamburg last Friday, the 19-year-old made his first start for Germany and orchestrated the stunning win in Stuttgart.

Hoffenheim lost to Hanover last weekend, but coach Holger Stanislawski joked Dortmund’s lack of finishing against Hamburg is a weakness.

“The only thing you can accuse them of is not scoring enough goals,” he said. “That is almost a weakness, but it is something which will probably amuse (Dortmund coach) Jürgen Klopp.”

The Hoffenheim trainer said Dortmund are rapidly acquiring the same status in Germany as Bayern Munich of being the team to beat.

“I think they have developed to the same status of Bayern in the last 15 to 20 years,” said the 41-year-old. “It does not matter whether they play at home or away, they are still hard to beat.”


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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.