Last night was yet another high point of my time in Munich. I have loved playing soccer since I was in high school, but have not had a chance to see top-notch footy in person. Last night, I saw the best of the best, and it did not disappoint. I’m going to try to keep this short, but I hope you non-soccer types will indulge me a bit.
A little background might help for those of you in our readership of dozens (I’m counting pets) who do not know much about European soccer. Every major country in Europe has a soccer league, with many countries having more than one. Europeans love soccer passionately, and Europe has some of the best leagues in the world. The best teams from the top national leagues in Europe compete against each other in something called the Champion’s League.
Last night, I went with my German friend Marcus and his two teenage boys Samuel and Christoph to see Munich’s team, Bayern Munich, play the English powerhouse Arsenal. (If you look carefully, you can almost tell that I’m excited. Almost.)
The game was held on Munich’s home turf at the Allianza stadium, which was lit up in Bayern’s home color, red. It’s a very cool stadium that holds about 70,000, and was sold out for the match.
Bayern Munich took control early, with an incredible strike from a dutchman named Arjen Robben. I was too busy watching to take a picture or video, but the internet provideth: https://vid.me/e/uYU1?stats=1
Ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I’m pretty sure Robben pointed to me after scoring. Bachatcha, Arjen. A little while later, Arsenal equalized when Chilean Alexis Sanchez scored off the rebound from his own penalty kick. The teams went into halftime 1-1. It was a nice bit of drama.
And then there was the second half. To start, Bayern’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski headed in a cross. Then Bayern’s Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcántara slotted home a lovely little flick from Lewandowski. Thiago wasn’t done, pounding another goal in just a few minutes later. Whenever the Bayern players score, the announcer initiates this call-and-response cheer. I didn’t understand it, of course, but after 4 goals, I was starting to get the hang of it. It’s all about yelling the player’s name a few times, saying something great about Bayern, something that couldn’t have been good about Arsenal, and then ending with the announcer saying “thank you” (“danke”) and the audience responding you’re welcome” (“bitte”). It’s all so very civilized. Here’s a clip after Thiago’s second goal.
Finally, German legend Thomas Müller subbed in and scored yet another goal for Bayern. Here’s what it was like shortly after he scored — the tail end of the usual corner flag celebration. (It was all I could do to record some shaky snippets. I was simply enjoying the game too much.)
I guess you could say I kind of enjoyed the game. Here I am heading home post-match.