It was a bit of a chippy game, with a very controversial goal, but in the end it was the final score that mattered--
RB Leipzig 2, SC Freiburg 1.
Greetings once again from Leipzig, where my ears are still ringing following the Bundesliga match at Red Bull Arena. This game was, of course, the reason we took this particular trip, and so our entire day was built around it. We made sure we got to the stadium as early as we could, just to soak in the atmosphere, and then we stayed a bit afterwards, both to let the crowd thin out and to wonder just why the drunk guy fell out of the stands & plopped 10 feet onto the concrete below.
Oh wait, he was a drunk guy. Never mind.
Now, I know that a), the game wasn't shown in the US and 2). you probably don't care anyway, but it was an exciting match, so I'll be posting a video link to the highlights of the game at the end of this. When we arrived Thursday and went to the fan shop I bought two player jerseys, and both of those players each scored a goal today so, you know, they owe me. And the two players Loraine bought jerseys for played spectacular games themselves, which made her happy, so it was a win-win situation all around, for both us and the team.
Would you like a quick photographic trip through the game? We hopped on a tram, and had to make the short walk through a bunch of parking lots, where we had our first sighting of the stadium--
In a grass field, they have all kinds of games and activities set up for kids--
You then wait until exactly two pm, and not one second before because, after all, this is Germany and precision matters. The gates open and the fans started flocking up the stairs--
Where the holy grail of eastern Germany soccer awaits--
If you want, you can buy a beer. Admittedly, we bought it for the cup it came in, but we didn't think they'd sell us just the cup, so we bought the entire package, and managed to slurp it down by the time the game ended--
Soon, the players came out for their warm-ups--
And the crowd cheered wildly. That was nothing, though, to the roar that arose when the actual player introductions were made--
Especially in the section near us, the official fan section--
We actually chose the seats we did so we'd be near the fan section, just so we could experience it. And it was pretty much what we expected. The entire game the section was singing, beating drums, cheering, chanting, and, I assume, watching the game. That section alone is the reason my ears are still ringing and, truth be told, the reason the drunk guy fell 10 feet onto the concrete.
Because, you know, he fell over the railing in the fan section.
The game got underway--
And 17 minutes into it Timo Werner scored his 15th goal of the season to put the home team ahead. Fans were happy, as were the beer vendors--
They actually have a cool way of delivering the beer here. Instead of hauling around a rack of sloshing cups filled with foaming liquid that spills everywhere, the beer vendor carried what is basically a backpack full of beer around, and pumps it out like he would from a keg into your waiting cup. It's a device Homer Simpson would love.
But more on that later.
The action continued--
And a few minutes into the second half Freiburg scored on a goal that probably still has people talking. It was a free kick in front of the Leipzig goal, and the Leipzig players were not yet set up and ready to go when Freiburg kicked the ball. I'm not a soccer expert, but I was surrounded by 40,000 of them, and while they may not have been the most impartial of judges, based on their reaction something was not right. And seeing as how Leipzig players were arguing with the referee for a few minutes afterwards, I'm guessing they weren't much in agreement, either.
Oh, there were actually slightly more than 40,000 of us there--
Loraine and I were two of those!
Not knowing how the game would turn out the mood in the crowd turned tense, until a call for a hand ball in the penalty area against Freiburg sent the Leipzig Viking, Emil Forsberg, up for a penalty kick--
Which he scored a few second later, sending Leipzig up 2-1, and within a few minutes the game ended and The Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” burst forth from the speakers, officially sending RB Leipzig into the Champions League next year--
The Champions League is basically the be all and end all of European soccer. In addition to their regular league play, the top teams in each league play each other throughout the season to crown the European champion. Some teams (cough cough Bayern Munich) actually consider the Champions League more important than their home league, will spent zillions of Euros to bring in the best players, and then consider the season a loss if they only win their home league and not the Champions League.
And after winning today, Leipzig gets to experience it again next year. After the victory, the players came over to salute the fans--
And with smiles on our faces, all 40,000+ of us went home--
Loraine and I walked the 3 kilometers back to the hotel, barely beating the rain that started to fall, although we could've been packed into trams like human sardines, if we had wished--
All in all, it was an amazing experience, and one that I'm so happy Loraine was able to scratch off her bucket list. I'm guessing the smile won't be leaving her face for a few days!
Okay...just to prove that we did a few things other than soccer today, here's today's totally gratuitous shot of lilacs, this time next to a street wagon that sells beer--
Today's totally gratuitous Leipzig street musician shot--
That young man, like many other street musicians around here, was playing Ed Sheeran's Shape of You” on his vibraphone. I don't know for sure, but based on the number of times we've heard it play the past few days I'm guessing it was one of Germany's biggest hits the past few years. And I learned something today about the tradition of street musicians in Leipzig, and how they may have been a catalyst in those protests that brought down the old East German government 30 years ago.
I'll share that story tomorrow.
And finally, you know how I mentioned how Homer Simpson might like the beer backpack the vendors carry around on their backs in Red Bull Arena? Well, that thought must have occurred because Homer was stuck in my mind, both from the doughnut package we saw in a store this morning--
And from what popped up on the TV when we turned it on looking for the soccer pre-game show.
(ps—because I'm not currently in the U.S. You Tube won't allow me access to the English-language version of the game highlights, so if you're REALLY curious as to what went on today just CLICK HERE and, assuming they've been posted, they should be the first thing that pops up after the search. If, of course, you're curious, and don't have anything better to do, like grouting your sink or re-creating the Taj Mahal out of your belly button lint).