The darker side of German footballing fan culture regrettably grabbed the headlines this past weekend.
When one takes the whole of the most recent Bundesliga round into account, however, the picture isn't nearly as bleak as Bochum-Gladbach would suggest.
A full look at all the fixtures played over the last round--precisely what we do here on Bulinews every week--demonstrates this.
As always, you're cordially invited to come along and see.
Our weekend attendance feature returns, back in the visually enhanced style that we debuted last week. The final Bundesliga round before the season's final international break ended up being an emotional rollercoaster ride for those who hold German football dear. From the agony of the abandonment in Friday night's round 27 curtain raiser to the ecstasy of 50,000 Westphalians in Köln's RheinEnergieStadion on Sunday night, football lovers across the Bundesrepublik ran the full gamut of emotions.
Much happened in-between those two fixtures on the first weekend that permitted full stadiums across the country since the onset of the pandemic. We're once again pleased to take you inside the hallowed Bundesliga footballing cathedrals here on Bulinews. For better or worse, there is much to talk about. There's also still some fantastic opportunities to attend fun football matches in Germany during the international break. We'll discuss those below as well.
Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) VfL Bochum
Planned capacity = 25,000 (90.5%)
Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)
Deep sigh. Yes, we must address this first. The incident involving Bochum fans wasn't unprecedented this season. It actually wasn't even the only case of such behavior this very weekend. A plastic beer cup narrowly missed SV Darmstadt 98's Tobias Kempe as he attempted to take a corner kick in Bremen. It happened at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen as well during Schalke's home match against Hannover 96.
Deeper sigh. We've talked about how Bochum had their club captain Anthony Losilla implore the fans not to engage in such behaviors during a lighthearted pre-matach PSA.We've written a mini-editorial about why this development was so inherently frustrating in the tactics column. There isn't much more to add.
It would, of course, be nice if we didn't take our recently reinstated right to congregate in crowds for granted so soon.
FC Augsburg (at) VfB Stuttgart
Planned capacity = 60,449 (full house)
Attendance = 55,785 (92.3%)
Thankfully, the positive power of fans back in the stadium remains strong enough to overrule what we witnessed in Bochum on Friday night. A near capacity crowd in Baden-Württemberg's capital cheered their side on to a sensational comeback victory at the Mercedes Benz Arena on Saturday. The scenes here were truly great; almost a perfect antidote to Friday's sour taste.
This is how a Bundesliga stadium looks on the best of days.
Arminia Bielefeld (at) FSV Mainz 05
Planned capacity = 25,000 (73.4%)
Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)
The Rheinhessen supporters had plenty to cheer about during their weekend encounter. Records galore. Mainz have actually set several home records this season thanks in large part to the unrivaled atmosphere at the MEWE Arena. As head-coach Bo Svensson put it on Monday morning, "It was no normal football match, it was a Mainz home match."
Well done, Pfälzer.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) Hertha BSC
Planned capacity = 25,000 (33.5%)
Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)
Quite the unexpected upset delivered by "die alte Dame" at home on Saturday. The critical win ups local enthusiasm for this club just in time. Don't forget that the Berliner Derby is only 18 days away! There should be a wonderful atmosphere in the Olympiastadion when Hertha hosts Union on April 9th. In principle, it can take place before a full house. Should renewed COVID restrictions restrict access, we'll all be heartbroken.
Danke für euren Support im @Oly_Berlin bei #BSCTSG! 💙 Doch noch haben wir nichts erreicht: Wir arbeiten weiter – und freuen uns auf eure Unterstützung. 🤩 Alle Mitglieder können weiterhin exklusiv Tickets für #BSCFCU buchen: https://t.co/vMzMYZI5nw ⬅️#GemeinsamHertha #HaHoHe pic.twitter.com/ooHvLVs3aI— Hertha BSC (@HerthaBSC) March 21, 2022
SC Freiburg (at) SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Planned capacity = 13,800 (83.0%)
Attendance = 9,884 (71.6%)
Attendance at the Ronhof was surprisingly up a tick after last round's thrashing. The team itself responded by turning in a much better performance.The Kleeblätter were able to reclaim some of their recent strong home form against the visiting Breisgauer. In a loose tie in with St. Patrick's day, this totally non-Irish club did it's green beer thing on Saturday. None of the visiting locals opted to throw their "diversity cups" on the pitch.
FC Union Berlin (at) Bayern München
Planned capacity = 35,000 (46.6%)
Attendance = 35,000 (sold out)
Yes, of course it sold out. The German giants don't leave seats unfilled. That's a fact. To be perfectly honest, the atmosphere at the Allianz hasn't been especially enthralling throughout the entire course of the pandemic. Saturday night was no exception. The stands were pretty quiet. Without the ultra groups, the Bundesliga's bis international export often falls prey to a "corporate feel" during home fixtures.
We can nevertheless find something to talk about. As was the case last week when discussing Hoffenheim, there's a chance to work in a plug for the women. Did you know that both FC Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg will be playing Women's Champions' League games in the men's Arenas during the international break? One can still attend a great match live!
The international break always counts as a good opportunity to check out women's UCL!
Eintracht Frankfurt (at) RB Leipzig
Planned capacity = 47,069 (full house)
Attendance = 43,058 (91.4%)
Surprisingly, this match didn't sell out. Those local boosters who did stay home probably didn't feel themselves cheated as the home team didn't really deliver the best of performances. Despite this, those fans who were present delivered in their part of the bargain. The atmosphere was great. Even those of us tepid on this club do enjoy how far its fan scene has progressed over the last few years.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) VfL Wolfsburg
Planned capacity = 30,000 (full house)
Attendance = 16,554 (55.2%)
Right. As usual, there's not much to say about the attendance figures in the northern Autostadt. The company town isn't the best locale to take in a match, though the VfL ultras are a fun and good-natured lot worth meeting at some point in one's football travels. Time to work in a plug for the women again. Champions' League football this week at the Volkswagen Arena!
Borussia Dortmund (at) 1. FC Köln
Planned capacity = 50,000 (full house)
Attendance = 50,000 (sold out)
A weekend that began on the worst possible note ended with pure delight. The Kölner crowd never fails! The match itself also proved a real treat. Somewhat unfairly overshadowed by the fact that the 1-1 draw in all likelihood officially spelled the end of the title race, a splendid example of German football at its finest capped the round. Bochum-Gladbach seemed a distance memory by the time we were finished on Sunday.
Thanks to both the players and the fans.
Gegen den BVB durften endlich wieder 5️⃣0️⃣.0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ Zuschauer ins RheinEnergieSTADION, die Seb Andersson mit seinem Treffer zum 1:1 in völlige Ekstase versetzte! Auch FC-Radio-Kommentator Guido Ostrowski flippte auf der Pressetribüne komplett aus. Unbedingt reinhören! 🤩😁 #effzeh pic.twitter.com/9GIo8CFCtP— 1. FC Köln (@fckoeln) March 21, 2022
Thanks so much for reading!
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All columns debut on Bulinews before appearing on Peter's website later in the week.