Bayern Munich has gotten off to a fabulous start to begin Carlo Ancelotti's career in Germany, winning all seven of their competitive matches, while scoring oodles of goal, and only allowing one solitary tally against. The only blemish on this impressive debut season is something out of the Italian coach's control...the condition of the field the Allianz Arena.
It's tough to miss. The usually immaculate turf, that normally looks more uniform and plush than most people's carpeting in their house, is hard to look at, sporting more brown than green. And the effect on the ball has been noticeable too, with the ball skipping and jumping on routine passes, making the job of the players that much tougher. The reasons are threefold:
- Excessive wear and tear - With both Bayern and their (sort of) crosstown rivals 1860 Munich calling the Allianz Arena home, and with midweek games already in full swing (both in the domestic leagues and Champions League), the grass has seen a lot of traffic
- Rainy weather - Although most of the arena is covered, the field is not, and the recent precipitation in Munich has softened up the field, making it more vulnerable to getting torn up
- Fungus - However, the worst culprit appears to be a fungus that has infected the grass. Facilitated by the wet conditions, it has been identified as the root cause of the problem
Over the last few weeks, we've heard everything from "it's fine, it just looks bad", to "it just needs a week to recover", all the way to finally getting to the acceptance stage of grief, where the people in charge have given in, and admitted that the damage to the field is too extensive, and it needs to be replaced. The existing hybrid grass (remember, it's real grass, with plastic "grass" blades stitched in for added uniformity) will give way to good old-fashioned natural grass.
The work is scheduled to begin this coming Monday (1860 has a second division game scheduled on Sunday), where the grass will be torn out over two days, the new sod will be laid down on Wednesday and Thursday, and the measurements and lines will be completed on Friday, so that Bayern can host 1. FC Köln on a brand-new field on Saturday.
The only question that remains is, will they also go back to all natural grass at the training ground at Säbener Strasse? The same hybrid system was installed at the behest of former coach Pep Guardiola, to mirror what the players encounter each matchday.