Hannover and Schalke draw as season begins

Champions League side Schalke were held to a 2-2 draw at Hannover on Sunday as the season got off to a tight start.

Hannover and Schalke draw as season begins
Photo: DPA

The Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen will discover their group stage opponents in Thursday’s Champions League draw, but threw away a 2-1 lead at Hannover, who have not lost at home for 18 months.

The hosts took the lead via a 43rd-minute header from Brazilian defender Felipe, who was left unmarked in the area.    

But Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the league’s top scorer last season, levelled for Schalke on 52 minutes with a long-range drive before midfielder Lewis Holtby put the guests ahead 12 minutes later with a superb header.

Hanover’s Swiss midfielder Adrian Nikci, who had only been on the pitch for three minutes, became the hosts’ hero after converting a crisp pass from ex-Germany striker Jan Schlaudraff 10 minutes from time to claim a point.

“I am very disappointed with the 2-2 draw. We were clearly the better team, had the better chances and we controlled the game,” said Holtby.

Holtby’s team-mate, ex-Germany goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, was more direct.

“We led 2-1 and we should never, ever have allowed the game to escape our grasp,” he said.

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund kicked off the new campaign with a 2-1 home win over Werder Bremen on Friday night thanks to goals from Germany stars Marco Reus and Mario Götze.

Bavarian giants Bayern Munich also got their campaign off to a flying start with a 3-0 win at newly promoted Greuther Fürth on Saturday, as goals from Thomas Müller, Mario Mandzukic and Arjen Robben secured the win.

Bayern are still smarting after Dortmund won last season’s Bundesliga title, while Munich lost both the German Cup and Champions League finals.

There was drama on Saturday night as Wolfburg claimed a late 1-0 victory over Stuttgart.

After Wolves’ goalkeeper Diego Benaglio saved a penalty from Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibisevic in the 88th-minute, Wolfsburg’s 23-year-old Dutch forward Bas Dost headed in a 90th-minute winner on his Bundesliga debut.

Promoted Eintracht Frankfurt came from behind for a 2-1 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen thanks to an equaliser from Stefan Aigner and a late header from Martin Lanig.

Borussia Mönchengladbach responded after their home defeat by Dynamo Kiev in Tuesday’s Champions League play-off first leg with a 2-1 victory at home to Hoffenheim.

Striker Mike Hanke headed home on 33 minutes, only for Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino to equalise with a header on 66 minutes.

Gladbach’s Venezuela midfielder Juan Arango then unleashed a spectacular free-kick on 79 minutes to claim the points.

Hamburg’s season got off to a bad start with a 1-0 defeat at home to Nuremberg, whose new signing Hanno Balitsch, freshly arrived from Leverkusen, grabbed the winner 22 minutes from time.

Striker Dani Schahin had an afternoon to remember with both second-half goals for promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf in their 2-0 win at Augburg, while Freiburg were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Mainz.


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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.