Coronavirus restrictions in Germany are steadily loosening, which means that more fans have been allowed at Bundesliga venues after having to endure a Geisterspiele format for the better part of the past two years. The state of Bavaria has had some of the strictest restrictions of all of the German states for most of the pandemic due to its infection rates, so the Allianz Arena has scarcely seen more the 25% capacity, unfortunately.
Leon Goretzka has not played for Bayern Munich since the 3-2 der Klassiker win over Borussia Dortmund in the beginning of December due to injury, but in a recent interview with Welt am Sonntag, the midfielder said he hopes stadiums will be full again soon. He’s worried that not being able to have full venues for such an extended period of time has slightly changed the psyche of a majority of fans. “It would be a mistake if we believe that the stadiums will fill up completely again as a matter of course. You have to be that honest. But it probably won’t be quite that easy, because I’m already afraid that the past two years have also done something to many fans,” he explained (az).
To date, the last time the Allianz Arena was at full capacity for a Bayern match was March 8th, 2020, in a win over FC Augsburg. What’s been slightly frustrating for German football fans is the fact that other countries in the European Union and United Kingdom have already re-allowed full capacities at grounds and various German states have allowed portions of fans in their stadiums at a higher rate than in Bavaria. 15,000 fans were on hand for December’s installment of der Klassiker in Dortmund and that’s how many were allowed for Bayern’s recent home win over RB Leipzig.
It’s Goretzka’s hope that the lack of fans for so long has caused people to realize just how much they mean to the game and how much of it has been missing without them. “The fans made soccer so great in the first place through their euphoria. As soon as the pandemic situation allows, therefore, we should return as quickly as possible to the soccer we all love - with a boisterous atmosphere in the stands and in the soccer pubs,” he emphasized.
This would be especially beneficial in the Champions League for Bayern and other teams that are based in areas that still have restrictions in place. There’s no indication, as of yet, that we will see a full Allianz Arena before the end of this current season, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with remaining hopeful. If Bayern is able to get past RB Salzburg in the second leg of the round of 16, it would be an added boost to be able to have a full house for whoever they would face in the quarter-finals, especially if it winds up being a Premier League team, where full venues have been allowed all across the U.K from the outset of this season.