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There are places where football is primarily business and then there are places where football is fun as well as business, with the former taking precedence. Dortmund is such a place.
When Borussia play in the massive 81,000-seater Westfalenstadion then the whole city lights up. Families, friends and couples pour into this strictly-for-football-only stadium, dressed in bright yellow to enjoy an afternoon of excitement. With the second highest average attendance in Europe behind Barcelona last season, Borussia is a club that caters primarily for fans. There could not be stronger proof of that than the South Tribune, nicknamed the Yellow Wall, a 25-thousand capacity standing-only tribune, the biggest of its kind in Europe.
The cheapest ticket price for this extraordinary place? 11 euros.
I was in the stadium last week for an interview with German league officials, who seemed very excited about showing me the Yellow Wall as Borussia took on VfL Wolfsburg.
“It’s time,” they said before the game started, as we comfortably sat in the stands with the fans around us smoking and drinking beer and the stadium slowly filling up. “Time for what?” I asked. “To see the wall up close and take pictures,” they said as they rushed me down the stands, and yes, on to the perfectly trimmed pitch with Wolfsburg coach Steve McClaren giving his players final instructions as they warmed up.
He didn’t quite reach the same levels of achievement on the field either but this modest man will certainly be remembered as a great talent.
Wolfsburg are only 90 minutes away from winning their first German championship and they have equalled or broken several records in achieving that.
No other team have ever had two strikers score 20 goals or more in a Bundesliga season. Grafite has 26, Edin Dzeko 25.
Juergen Klinsmann, who has turned German soccer upside down the last four years with a dynamic and modern approach to the game, has once again managed to silence the domestic naysayers, at least for the time being.
Bayern’s 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Lisbon put an abrupt halt to the media speculation that Klinsmann’s job was on the line after Bayern lost three of their first four Bundesliga matches since the start of the second half of the season in January.