The “catch-up work” continues over on the profile website with the most thoroughly enjoyable part of the project to re-post in full color. All of the backlogged Bulinews hot-sheets of the “Fans Column” contained their own lovely visual features. They nevertheless can’t hold a candle to what we create on this platform.
Another fabulous optical journey awaits!
Bundesliga Fan Scene Report–Round 26
Having already caught up on our attendance figures earlier in the day, it’s now time to resume our tradition of reporting on the “plans for fans” across the country ahead of the coming Bundesliga matchday. In the road back to full stadiums near the end of next weekend, many German footballing venues are now operating at 75 percent capacity and higher. Other larger stadiums, like Dortmund, Frankfurt, and Gladbach are still slowly working their way up for logistical reasons.
Our “Fan Scene” column enters a new phase. Gone are the once useful (yet no longer needed) public health statistics that governed many aspects of public life in Germany during the more dangerous phases of the pandemic. One hopes that reporting on hospital intensive care occupancy rates remains a thing of the past. Such vital stats are surely worth keeping an eye on sparingly in the future, but it nevertheless feels very nice to leave one depressing aspect of modern life behind for now. There are certainly plenty others.
In the place of public health data, we’ll begin to report on the status of ticket availability for each individual fixture. The eight separate sections this week let potential attendees know if there are still passes available, whether or not they are on public sale, and how best to access them. We’ll continue to provide this information for the duration of the season.
As our “Bundesliga Fan Scene” column continues to adjust to the “endemic” phase of the global pandemic, we’re pleased to take you inside the stadium and outside the grounds in our coverage of global football’s very best supporter culture. As we report on the eight Bundesliga fixtures played this past weekend, we’ll offer you the finest fan-related highlights from each one.
The latest evolution of our column remains dedicated to all those locals who offer up their time and energy in support of their club and community. Note that full stadiums are returning in some parts of the Bundesrepublik next week. Anyone looking for a post-COVID adventure outing should strongly consider visiting our hallowed footballing cathedrals.
All are welcome!
VfB Stuttgart (at) 1. FC Union Berlin
Planned capacity = 16,509 (75.0%)
Increased capacity at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei will push attendance at the Köpenick venue to its highest level in over two years. The club already raffled off all its passes to members and season ticket holders. Some tickets, though certainly not many, are available on the secondary exchanges coordinated through the club’s website.
Union will maintain adherence to the “2G+” regulation, meaning that those with the proper vaccination/recovery paperwork will also need a negative PCR test to attend. Thankfully, having been the most proactive club in this regard over the course of the pandemic, the FCU will offer free tests to anyone outside the grounds on Saturday.
Attendance = 16,509 (sold out)
As always, a fantastic atmosphere at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Saturday. Those interested in this club may have noticed by now that, without exception, the Union ultras always craft a banner to be placed directly in front of the broadcast cameras each week. This week the FCU faithful were kind enough to remind use that “Auf 20. März gibts nochmal Fußball für alle”. (On March 20th, there’s once again football for all).
Thanks for the reminder, Eisernen!
VfL Wolfsburg (at) SC Freiburg
Planned capacity = 25,000 (73.5%)
After not selling out their last home fixture against Hertha BSC, the Breisgauer will hope to attract as many as possible to the new Europa Park Stadion for what shall be a crucial match in the club’s chase for Europe. Tickets still available (on public sale) via the club’s website.
While every last German football club is planning fundraising efforts for refugees from the UKR conflict, Freiburg will also hold a direct charity drive for its sister city of Lviv in Ukraine. The club ultras and fan societies have also coordinated drives for food and clothing as part of their participation in aid transports to the Western border.
Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)
A fully sold-out crowd at the Europa Park Stadion. A great game for both SC enthusiasts and neutrals as well. In the “plans for fans” section, we talked a bit about the fundraising efforts for the Ukraine conflict planned by the club and its ultras outside the stadium. When one considers the limited capacity, a total of some €56,000 (to be matched by the club) is pretty impressive.
In general, all thinking about attending a Bundesliga match are advised to arrive at the stadium early. Local ultra groups and fan societies are always coordinating some sort of service project just outside the venue. The true “Bundesliga experience” also involves meeting local civically engaged fans prior to kickoff. It’s certainly a part of the culture that ticket-holders will not wish to miss out on.
FC Bayern München (at) TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Planned capacity = 25,600 (84.9%)
The Kraichgauer upped their capacity slightly (by 600 seats) in order to accommodate all of those in the Rhein-Neckar region hoping to see this match. As is always the case when the German giants roll into town, the match sold out quickly. The Sinsheimers don’t coordinate a secondary ticket exchange for fans looking to re-sell.
Interestingly enough, some may recall that the this exact same fixture saw the Bayern traveling contingent force a match stoppage in Sinsheim with their anti Dietmar-Hopp protests just a little over two years ago. This led to more anti-DFB protests the following weekend; the final Bundesliga matchday before COVID lockdown.
Such actions truly seem like an eternity ago. In a world that has literally radically changed forever two or three times over since then, the only protests we shall witness this weekend involve peaceful solidarity actions.
Attendance = 25,600 (sold out)
The atmosphere in Sinsheim’s PreZero Arena never really lives up to that of the more traditional clubs, but Bayern’s visit did enable the Kraichgauer to record a sell-out. There are better recommendations for anyone finding themselves in the Rhein-Neckar-Region and is interested in attending a football match. Insofar as this club is concerned, attending one of the women’s matches at the old Dietmar Hopp ground in original village is actually a worthwhile experience.
On Saturday there was a Bayern-Hoffenheim double-header of sorts. A little over 2,000 live spectators turned out to watch the ladies play. It was by far the best attended Frauen-Bundesliga fixture of the weekend. Hoffenheim often draws crowds in the thousands whilst other clubs remain in the hundreds. Now that the COVID Era winds down, Frauen-Bundesliga matches can once again provide some access to the players afterwards. This makes the Women’s League a great pick for anyone with a young niece or daughter who might like to meet or take a picture with the players afterwards.
Hertha BSC (at) Borussia Mönchengladbach
Planned capacity = 34,500 (63.8%)
A special dispensation from state and municipal authorities allowed the BMG to up its fan quota significantly just earlier this week. As a result, quite a few tickets are still available via public sale on the club’s website. They might have been plenty available anyway as the locals remain less than enthused about their team.
Those of us who have been lifelong devotees of German football can scarcely remember a time when the local supporters of this particular club seemed so disinterested at best, and perpetually angry at worst. In many respects, the Fohlenelf fan scene hasn’t truly recovered from the Marco Rose departure. The Adi Hütter flop, coupled with Max Eberl’s surprise resignation, seems to have functioned as a pair of sucker punches for many.
Attendance = 30,675 (88.9%)
We didn’t exactly expect this match to sell-out given the current state of the home-town team. A draw of close to 90 percent constituted a pretty decent turnout, particularly in light of where there availability status was on Friday afternoon. Like in Freiburg, the local ultras and fan societies really came through with their Ukrainian relief efforts. Club and fans together raised some €150,000. The food and clothing drives also got some good tonnage on the way to the border.
To reiterate, always come to the stadium early!
FC Köln (at) Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Planned capacity = 22,658 (75.0%)
Three-quarters capacity for what technically qualifies as a “derby” at the BayArena. German football lovers will naturally be quick to point out that the match isn’t a “real derby”. Gladbach and Köln are the real Rhein rivals. The rest is media hype. Fans of these two clubs–separated by a scant few kilometers–actually enjoy friendly relations.
Bayer opted to forgo public sale. Tickets were only made available for club members and season ticket holders. The match is sold out, with some passes available on the secondary exchanges. Also already sold out are the special recycled material tricots that die Werkself (just like Stuttgart last weekend) will wear in this one.
The club tied the sale of the jerseys to Ukrainian relief efforts and the the full allotment sold out almost immediately.
Attendance = 22,658 (sold out)
In Nordrhein-westfalen’s more “friendly derby”, the supporters from nearby Köln got more out of Sunday’s game than the boosters of Germany’s red company team. In any event, there was some quality signing before the dual shock injuries to Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong ushered in some reverent silence at the BayArena.
Arminia Bielefeld (at) Borussia Dortmund
Planned capacity = 33,000 (40.5%)
Plenty of tickets still available on both the club’s website and the secondary exchanges. In point of fact, the BVB would absolutely love it if you’d care to come out see their team. Local interest wanes significantly now that it has been firmly established that die Schwarzgelben are effectively playing a “lame duck” season.
Second place. That’s pretty much the size of it. No catching Bayern. No being caught by the likes of Leverkusen or the other Champions’ League contenders. European club football and a potential DFB-Pokal defense are also finished. Large portions of the “Revierblock” have entered hibernation. Come one, come all to watch the team Germans plan on skipping over for the next two months.
Attendance = 33,000 (sold out)
Somewhat surprisingly, several thousand tickets were snatched up on the final day before kickoff and the BVB beat our expectations by selling out. One honestly can’t hope for anything resembling the real Dortmund atmosphere when large swathes of the massive 81,365-seat Signal Iduna Park remain empty. At least some suffering locals were given something to cheer about. “Die Punkte bleiben in Pott” = “The points remain in the Ruhr”.
VfL Bochum (at) Eintracht Frankfurt
Planned capacity = 25,000 (49.0%)
Without any additional dispensations from the German state of Hessen, Eintracht will stick with the 25,000 person cap for the time being. It actually came as something of a surprise to see so many tickets still available for this encounter. These are two of the currently most interesting teams in the German Bundesliga! Where is everyone?
Those considering attending the Sunday fixture should know that the SGE does (like many other clubs) require site registration to purchase tickets. The process is nevertheless free and as harmless as accepting a few online cookies. One extra piece of spam e-mail remains a small price to pay for the experience of watching one of the better German football fan cultures in action.
Attendance = 24,000 (96.0%)
Not a lot of noise at Deutsch Bank Park during this weekend’s selected “tactical feature match”. To be fair, the pre-kickoff mood was already somewhat somber during the commemorations for recently deceased German football legend Jürgen Grabowski. There were also longer periods of time, especially in the first half, when the football on display wasn’t so great.
One really looks forward to seeing this venue full again. The SGE ultras also aren’t all back yet. It shall prove a real treat to watch them back in action again. In the meantime, we’ll settle for a solid atmosphere under the circumstances.
RB Leipzig (at) SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Planned capacity = 13,800 (83.0%)
Well. It will surprise few to learn that over 5,000 tickets are still available on public sale should anyone wish to watch Fürth live. In actuality, there are plenty of reasons why this match might prove to be something of an unexpected gem. When it comes to the league’s last-placed team, there are some legitimate signs of an uptick.
As someone forced to watch every Kleeblatt match in full this season as part of his deep-scout for the “Americans in the Bundesliga” column, this writer can assure some of the doubters that the league’s last-placed team actually have been gelling a bit. Stefan Leitl’s charges are nowhere near as lousy as they were during the first-half of the season.
That may be exceedingly faint praise, but it still counts for something.
Attendance = 9,418 (62.8%)
With the sales figures hovering around 8,000 entering the weekend, almost 1,500 local fans accepted head-coach Stefan Leitl’s invitation to come out and watch the “improved” Kleeblatt play. It’s safe to assume that all will have wished that they hadn’t. Leitl saw fit to cover his own tail after the massacre that was Sunday’s visit from Leipzig.
The club’s main social media arm hasn’t been in the mood to discuss much since Domenico Tedesco’s RB began to run away with the match. In non-COVID times, this would be precisely the sort of shellacking that would merit a refund for attendees. Fürth–along with everyone else–being cash-strapped at the moment means that supporters will have to accept apologies from the players instead.
Thanks so much for reading!
You can occasionally catch Peter on twitter, @ViceytheSS.
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All columns debut on Bulinews before appearing on Peter’s website later in the week.