Dortmund look to kickstart title defence bid

Reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund travel to Werder Bremen on Friday, knowing defeat could deal a further blow to their chances of stopping Bayern Munich from steamrolling their way to a 23rd Bundesliga title.

Dortmund look to kickstart title defence bid

Jürgen Klopp’s side ended last season ten points clear of third-placed Bayern, but they already lie six points behind the Bavarians, and three behind Bremen, with just eight games of this campaign played.

For Klopp, this weekend’s brief is simple: to compose a team “which is capable of bringing the points back from Bremen.”

Dortmund have a busy few weeks ahead of them, including a vital Champions League double-header against Olympiakos.

They signed off before the international break with a confidence-boosting 4-0 win over Augsburg.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in that rout but his place in the starting line-up at the Weserstadion is under threat from Lucas Barrios, the Paraguayan striker who is fit again after a two-month injury lay-off.

Dortmund’s teenage midfielder Mario Götze, who scored the fourth goal against Augsburg, was inspirational in Germany’s 3-1 win over Turkey in their final Euro 2012 qualifier in midweek.

That match was also remarkable for the fact Bayern trio Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all scored a goal apiece as Germany claimed their ninth win in nine qualifiers before making it a perfect ten against Belgium on Tuesday.

Bayern host Hertha Berlin on Saturday looking to extend an impressive start which has seen them go unbeaten since the opening day of the season, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer conceding only one goal, against the 21 they’ve scored.

Fans of Hertha, however, will be praying for a shock. The newly-promoted capital club have already stunned Dortmund and routed Cologne 3-0 with a young side under the coaching leadership of former Bayern player Markus Babbel.

“We’ve got nothing to lose. And no one is unbeatable,” Babbel told AFP. From afar, it seems the only problems affecting Bayern are coming off the field.

In midweek French midfield star Franck Ribery launched a fresh bid to try and ban an unauthorised biography titled “The Hidden Face of Franck Ribery,” claiming the book’s publishers and authors divulged confidential information relating to an ongoing judicial investigation into his alleged involvement in an under-age call-girl scandal.

Hertha’s challenge could be boosted by “all the little tricks” defender Christian Lell says he knows about Ribery, with whom he played at Bayern until last season.

Following a 3-2 reverse to Hannover, Thomas Schaaf’s Werder will be hoping their unbeaten form at home holds out against Dortmund.

While their defence has conceded an above-average 10 goals in eight matches so far, 34-year-old Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro has been showing that age is no concern: since returning from injury, he has scored six times in the league for Werder.

Elsewhere Bayer Leverkusen, who sit ninth, travel to Mönchengladbach, whose third place in the league is down largely to a miserly defence which has conceded only four times so far.

Spanish legend Raul, as well as Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, will be looking to fire for fourth-placed Schalke following his recovery from tendinitis when they host 16th placed Kaiserslautern.

On Sunday, bottom of the table Hamburg play their first game under new coach Thorsten Fink when they go to Freiburg.



Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund


Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin, Mainz v Augsburg, Stuttgart v Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg v Nuremberg, Mönchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04 v Kaiserslautern


Freiburg v Hamburg, Cologne v Hannover


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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.