Bayern coach to slim down dream team

Coach Pep Guardiola is set to discuss with Matthias Sammer and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge which players to shed from Bayern Munich's currently star-studded squad.

Bayern coach to slim down dream team
Photo: DPA

The talks will com after the team meets Borussia Dortmund on Saturday for a friendly repeat of the Champions League final.

Guardiola’s Bayern enjoyed a 2-0 win at home to his former employers Barcelona in Wednesday’s friendly, but the Spaniards played their first-team players only until the break.

Led by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s stars played just the first 45 minutes as goals by captain Philipp Lahm and Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic sealed the European champions’ win in front of 71,137 fans.

With the Bundesliga just over two weeks away, Guardiola has some tough decisions to make as he attempts to accommodate a plethora of stars with 10 full international midfielders in his squad.

Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Götze are set to return from injury and Spain’s Javi Martinez back from Confederations Cup duty, some of Bayern’s stars will find themselves on the bench next season unless they find new clubs.

“We will talk about this after the Super Cup, we are still getting to know the players,” said Guardiola, who played Germany winger Thomas Müller as a lone striker against Barcelona.

Having signed Spain Under-21 captain Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, Guardiola has said he is trying out ideas.

But Brazil’s Luiz Gustavo has been linked to 2009 German champions Wolfsburg, while Liverpool are reported to be interested in Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri.

“We have several players who can play in different positions, I like players who are flexible and can fit into different systems,” said 42-year-old Guardiola.

“Toni Kroos has dropped into a defensive midfielder position, I am trying things out and want to test things in these friendly games,” he added.

Barcelona had something to prove on their first return to Munich since their 4-0 drubbing in April’s Champions League semi-final, which the Germans had backed up with a 3-0 win in Spain.

But with Gerardo Martino back in Spain, ahead of Friday’s official unveiling as Barcelona’s new coach, caretaker boss Jordi Roura had no qualms about blooding his entire bench of juniors at half-time.

Guardiola passed on his best wishes to his former assistant coach and successor Tito Vilanova, who stepped down following just one year at the Nou Camp helm to continue his battle against cancer.

“I want to wish Tito all the best and also Martino, they have chosen him because they feel he is the best man for the job and I wish him a lot of luck,” said Guardiola, who won 14 titles in four years as Barcelona coach.


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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.