German league without fans like ‘old man’s football’- Mueller

Tuesday May 19 2020

Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski (R) ce

Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal against Union Berlin with his teammate Serge Gnabry. AFP PHOTO  

By AFP

Thomas Mueller joked that the Bundesliga without fans feels like “old man’s football, 7pm, under floodlights” after Bayern Munich brushed aside Union Berlin 2-0 behind closed doors on Sunday.

A first-half Robert Lewandowski penalty and a late Benjamin Pavard header sealed Bayern’s win in front of empty terraces in Berlin.

The result leaves defending champions Bayern four points clear as the German league restarted this weekend after a two-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 virus.

However, Mueller admitted it was strange to play Union behind closed doors at their compact Alten Foersterei stadium, which is usually packed with 22,000 passionate home fans.

“It felt a bit like the atmosphere you get for old man’s football, 7pm, under floodlights, but as soon as the ball started to roll, the game took our focus,” said Mueller.

The Bundesliga became the first top European league to resume this weekend, using draconian hygiene guidelines, regular testing of players and insisting on games in near-empty stadiums.
Hugging, embracing and handshakes were also banned.

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“There were a few butterflies before the restart, wondering how it would go, like before the first game of the season in August,” said Mueller. “I wasn’t worried about anything going wrong, everything was explained clearly to us.
“Union Berlin, just like us, were well prepared, no handshakes before kick-off etc.”

Mueller said the defending champions were just happy to win their first game after the restart to keep them on course for an eighth consecutive league title.

“We came here with the goal of getting the three points,” added Mueller. “We had a bit more security after the second goal.”
Players and coaches were quarantined in their team hotels this week, undergoing regular coronavirus testing and only leaving to go to training together.

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer had to miss this match because he broke quarantine when his father-in-law died.
The lack of fans was a real shame for Union, whose link with their supporters is legendary in Germany.

This is their first ever season in the top flight, with the fixture against Bayern - who have won the past seven Bundesliga titles - always one of the games fans look forward to the most.

Elsewheere on Sunday, Cologne squandered a two-goal lead and had to sweat to rescue a point in their 2-2 draw with visitors Mainz 05 in their first Bundesliga game back.

Cologne, looking for their fourth straight league win, thought they had wrapped up the match played without spectators after early goals in each half.

Despite the lack of fans, Cologne had some support as about 1,300 season-ticket holders sent in their favourite club items - team shirts, scarves or stuffed animals - which were draped over the empty seats.

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