Bayern strike again

Bayern Munich are just two wins from the Bundesliga title after their 2-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday allowed them to stay 20 points clear at the top of the table.

Bayern strike again
Photo: DPA

They have won 21 of their 26 league games this season and now only need to beat Hamburg at home next Saturday, then win at Eintracht Frankfurt on April 6 to have their 23rd German league title confirmed.

Bayern are also eyeing the Champions League title. Despite losing 2-0 to Arsenal on Wednesday, they still reached the quarter-finals on away goals to face Juventus.

With captain Philipp Lahm, wing Thomas Mueller and striker Mario Mandzukic all rested for the trip to Leverkusen, Germany forward Mario Gomez showed his strength with the opening goal on 37 minutes.

Leverkusen, the only team to beat Bayern in the Bundesliga this year, pulled a goal back when Simon Rolfes exploited some poor defending to score from a corner on 75 minutes.

But Bayern took the three points when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s free kick deflected off the shoulder of Leverkusen’s Philipp Wollscheid into his own net on 87 minutes.

“It’s always difficult to win at Leverkusen, it’s only their second league defeat at home this season,” said Germany star Schweinsteiger.

“They are always dangerous on the counter-attack. We conceded a standard goal which Jupp Heynckes has prepared us to defend against hundreds of times, which is annoying.”

Earlier, second-placed Borussia Dortmund routed Freiburg 5-1 with Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Turkey’s Nuri Sahin both scoring twice. Dortmund, who play Malaga in the last eight of the Champions League, ran riot at Signal Iduna Park as Lewandowski set a new club record of scoring in each of his last eight league games.

Having fallen behind to an early Jonathan Schmid goal, Dortmund grabbed the game by the scruff on the neck to flatten Freiburg with three goals in five minutes at the end of the first half.

Lewandowski opened the floodgates with his eighth goal in consecutive

league games on 41 minutes. But the Poland star is well short of Gerd Mueller’s Bundesliga record of a goal in 14 consecutive games for Bayern Munich.

The rout was wrapped up when 19-year-old Leonardo Bittencourt scored his first Bundesliga goal, two minutes after coming off the bench, on only his second league appearance, on 78 minutes when he tapped home a Lewandowski cross.

Schalke were hammered 3-0 at Nuremberg to drop down to fifth and out of the Champions League places, having been dumped out of Europe’s top competition with a home defeat to Galatasaray on Tuesday.

Ex-Dortmund midfielder Markus Feulner put Nuremberg ahead before Alexander Esswein converted a pass from Japan’s Hiroshi Kiyotake for the hosts second as the Japanese star again provided the final pass for Mike Frantz to score the third.

Relegation-threatened Augsburg picked up their fourth win in their last 10 games to keep their survival hopes alive with a 1-0 win at seventh-placed Hamburg, but the Bavarian team remains five points from safety.Werder Bremen midfielder Aaron Hunt converted two second half-penalties to give his mid-table team a point in their 2-2 draw at bottom side Greuther Fuerth.

On Sunday, fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt are home to VfB Stuttgart, who are just one place above the bottom three, while mid-table Borussia

Moenchengladbach host Hanover 96.


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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.