Reuters Soccer Blog
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There are 20 minutes left to kick off for VfB Stuttgart’s match of the year, a round-of-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona. The game has been declared a sellout. Yet the stadium is only half full.
A last-minute influx fills the ground, many fans literally taking their places as the game kicks off. But who can blame Stuttgart supporters for leaving it so late – there was absolutely no motive for them to arrive any earlier.
Every one had a numbered seat and there was an army of stewards in place to make sure nobody sat in the wrong place.
All they missed, then, was the pre-match “entertainment” – a few insipid rock songs, advertisements blasted repeatedly over the sound system, an MC bellowing banalities into a microphone, often at an ear-piercing volume, and, worst of all, the dreaded Champions League theme tune.
When former Germany keeper Jens Lehmann said earlier this month he wants to play at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, many said it was just another provocative statement by the 39-year-old at the twilight of his career.
Even Germany coach Joachim Loew and national goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke ruled out a return, saying there were four talented keepers in the squad already, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Rene Adler, Hanover 96 keeper Robert Enke, Manuel Neuer who plays for Schalke and Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese.
Former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is no stranger to controversy. But in recent weeks he has stirred up a debate despite being in the twilight of his playing days.
First he delayed the publication of his memoirs for next year and then signed another one-year contract extension with Stuttgart after saying last year this was his final season.