Hello everyone! I haven’t been writing too much recently and I can’t assure that I’ll write a lot in the coming days either but I can assure that I’ll try my best to write about any significant events in the world of sports, just like what happened in Bayern’s clash against Hoffenheim this weekend.
First of all, let’s start with how I actually sat down to watch this match. I wasn’t going to watch it initially, because I’m a student and I am appearing for my final exams right now. So I was taking a break from studies and scrolling through twitter when I saw that Bayern’s official twiter handle had retweeted someone’s tweet who was from India. Being an Indian Bayern fan myself, I was ecstatic seeing this and tweeted my happiness at Bayern’s acknowledgement of their Indian fan. They liked my tweet! This got the Bayern blood in my veins to start pumping and I finally decided that I was going to act irresponsible and watch the match, and oh, what a decision that was!
Yes, that game will go down in history as one of the darkest games in Bayern and Bundesliga for all its off-field drama. I will talk about that too, but I would much prefer to first talk about the actual footballing aspect of the game.
Bayern Munich have made it very clear that they want it all this season, and game after game, they have proved that they can walk their talk. The Champions League could very well be going to Bavaria this season. This game was just another indication of their true class. Bayern were without their heartthrob Robert Lewandowski in this game owing to an unfortunate injury to the Pole against Chelsea’s UCL tie which will keep him out for around a month. People say that Bayern are overdependent on Lewandowski, that they can’t score without him. I’d say that the people who say that will keep their mouths sealed for at least a week or so now.
They won 6-0! And that’s only in 77 minutes (I’ll explain how)! It felt like a world champion in FIFA 20 had set the difficulty to ‘beginner’ and was playing just to see the margin with which he could win. Every single footballer with red on his jersey was absolutely phenomenal. Bayern were particularly very impressive on the wings. Serge Gnabry was just Serge Gnabry. I am seriously at a loss of words to describe how well he plays. He kept creating chance after chance after chance, and he also took his volley goal brilliantly, making the goalkeeper look awkward and funny.
Phil Coutinho was someone who had a lot of pressure on him in this match. People were calling it his ‘last chance’ to play for Bayern Munich. If this really was the game on the basis of which the Bayern ownership are going to make the decision of whether to keep him or not, they are definitely going to keep him! Initially, Coutinho struggled a bit, but after the first third got over, it was all about Coutinho. 2 goals, 1 assist and a heck of a performance from the little magician. The debate of whether to keep Coutinho or not is essentially a debate of Coutinho vs Leroy Sane. Both of them have a similar price tag, and if Bayern acquires one, then they will have to let go of the other. For me personally, I’m on team Sane simply because I think he fits the Bayern style of play better than Coutinho and also because City might be willing to sell him for a lower price considering his contract length and their UCL ban.
Thomas Muller was a powerhouse on the field as always. He has surely aged like a fine wine. Joshua Zirkzee, Bayern’s future striker and Lewandowski’s replacement also took his goal fairly well. Alphonso Davies, who, in my humble opinion, is going to develop to be one of if not the best footballer in the world, also flaunted his pace and smart play. If there is one player in the Hoffenheim lineup who deserves serious props, it is their goalkeeper, Oliver Baumann. I know it seems weird to congratulate someone who conceded 6 goals, but most of them weren’t even his fault! Bayern were just too good! It could very easily have been 10-0 if not for some of his awe-inspiring saves which he made when he shouldn’t have had a prayer.
Now that we have got the football talk out of the way, let’s come to the mishaps of today’s game. What happened was, a group of Bayern fans unveiled banners calling Hoffenheim’s owner Dietmar Hopp a ‘Hurensohn’. I am learning German and although I haven’t formally been taught the slang yet, I can estimate what that means. I don’t want to write it down here, so if you are interested in knowing that, that’s what google is there for! The reason for this behaviour against Dietmar Hopp was because he has been given an exception to the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule of ownership. Basically, it has got something to do with money being spent by wrong people in wrong amounts at the wrong places.
After the banner was unveiled for the first time, the game was stopped and Bayern players and the Bayern coach himself, Hansi Flick, ran over to the stand where those fans were seated and tried to persuade them to pull those flags down. They seemed to realise that it was wrong and they shouldn’t do it again, and the game begun again. But right arounf the 77 minute mark, the banner was unveiled again. That was enough for the referee, he stopped the game there and then. Now, Karl Heinz-Rumenigge and Oliver Kahn had also joint the scene and were trying to reason with those fans. For those of you who do not know much about football, these are big names! Kahn is considered by some the greatest goalkeeper ever! Now you have a group of legends and future legends like Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Thiago Alacantara and Joshua Kimmich arguing with a bunch of spoilt ‘fans’ who think they are bigger than the game of football. Devastating.
After a good 10 minute gap, the referee started play again with the condition that if the banner was raised again, the match would be terminated and Bayern would have to forfeit their hard-earned points. These so called ‘fans’ were hurting their own teams’ title chances with this stunt. Nonetheless, play started again with 13 minutes of football left and what happened next was probably the greatest act of sportsmanship that the footballing world has seen.
The players decided to just pass the ball around between them for the remaining time and just run the clock down. Yes, you just had 22 players passing the ball between them, not looking at the jerseys the players they passed to were wearing, and talking about what had just happened. Some players started a Keepy-Uppy challenge. Others chose to do their own exercise drills. Some engaged in serious discussions. But nobody wanted to play seriously after what they had just witnessed. Not that if they had played, it would change the outcome of the match, but Hoffenheim would surely have wanted to at least get a goal to reduce the goal difference with which they lost, but they were willing to sacrifice that for the sake of respecting their owner and the game. Bayern could have also fulfilled some personal achievements very easily, Coutinho’s hat-trick, Zirkzee’s record to be the youngest Bayern brace-scorer and many more which were definitely far from unachievable, but they also sacrificed it to show the world whose side they were on and that they would not tolerate such behaviour no matter who those people supported.
It was almost like the players taught those ‘fans’ a lesson. “Oh, you want to stop a football match, do you? Here watch a friendly training now instead!” I think one of the most important things to takeaway from this experience is that a particular group of fans does not represent the whole fanbase of a club. I am sure Bayern Munich fans such as myself will receive a lot of hate after this incident, but I hope people can understand that we also condemn this sort of behaviour and will be ready to accept any punishments our team may get for this (even though none of it was their fault). Even though the match was completed, there is no assurance that the points from this win will count to their overall score. The Bundesliga operators may decide to terminate the match after all!
Let’s hope for the best and hope that something like this never happens in the history of Bayern or any other club in any other league ever again.