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Impressions from a Champions League night at the Allianz Arena

When you get a chance to attend a Bayern game, you go for it.

Allianz Arena, prior to the CL match against RSC Anderlecht

I found myself in Munich on a cool and rainy weekday, with some down time on my hands. FC Bayern were hosting RSC Anderlecht at the Allianz Arena for the first Champions League group game of the 2017/18 season. A match made in heaven? Absolutely, in more ways than one!

Armed with a ticket purchased through Bayern’s official website *, I jumped on the Untergrund-Bahn number 6 — or U6 for short — along with thousands of fellow Reds fans, and made my way towards Fröttmaning, the part of Munich on the outskirts of the city where the imposing Allianz Arena stands.

* Interestingly enough, you can access the ticket portal through the German and the UK English version of the website, but not the US English one. Weird! Do they not think that residents of the USA can fly?

Walking from the U-Bahn station, after crossing the bridge, the first thing you see, before even glimpsing the stadium, is the lone windmill that sits on a hill across the highway.

Windmill across from the AA

A few steps further, and a slight turn left, and there it is!

I got there early, to try to catch some pre-game action. Did I have trouble getting in?

I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but they do take their security seriously around these parts. Yet, people keep getting flares and other pyrotechnics in anyway — Anderlecht supporters sure did. Maybe body cavity searches are the way to go.

Entering the stadium, I saw RSC players wandering around on the field, looking a little lost and subdued. I guess whenever you come to play in a 70,000 spectator arena, when you’re used to 21K venue as your home field, it tends to be a little awe-inspiring.

Wandering around the bowels of the stadium, I saw this sign. If you ever wake up from a coma, and find yourself in a sports venue, this is all you need to let you know that you’re in Munich, or, at the very least, in the heart of Bavaria. Yes, they have a food station dedicated to Bratwursts.

Bratwurst station at the Allianz Arena

Finally, the Rekordmeister took to the field for pre-game warm-ups, to the delight of everyone who was already in their seat:

On a side note, I have played soccer almost my entire life, and I can’t remember any of my practices being as intense as these warm-ups — I repeat, these were warm-ups!

The infamous Südkurve was in usual form, cheering the players before the game.

In fact, I’m not sure they ever stopped. These people are tireless: chanting, jumping, waving flags the entire game, whipping their team forward. It’s an impressive spectacle all on its own.

I won’t get into the details of the game, as I’m sure you either watched it yourself, or read about it here, here, and here, but here is a highlight I was able to capture, which reminded me a lot of this famous play, except that Robben didn’t have Corentin Tolisso to get in the way back in 2010.

Another sequence I wish I had caught on video, but I wasn’t quick enough to react to was Niklas Süle battling one of the Anderlecht forwards for the ball, running back in his own half. Despite the opponent pulling and clutching at him, the big center back just shucked him off like he wasn’t even there, and calmly controlled the ball — this 22-year old is a beast.

After all was said and done, and Anderlecht had been dispatched with a little more difficulty than should have been necessary, the team made their customary trip to thank the fans, specifically the hard-core group in the south of the stadium.

On the way back to the subway, with a Döner kebab in hand from one of the food trailers that was still around — what says Bavaria better than this Turkish specialty ... mmm, delicious! — I took one last look back at the Allianz Arena, this time in full illumination.

Allianz Arena, in Bayern colors

All in all, an enjoyable evening, a good result, and a chance to share my experience with my fellow FC Bayern fans. How much better does it get?

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