Sights and sounds from the Bundesliga this weekend
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Bayern Munich cruised to victory once more as Borussia Dortmund kept within touching ahead of next week's top-two showdown but there were still plenty of unusual sights and sounds in the Bundesliga this weekend.
AFP Sport looks at some of the most notable moments from the second round of matches since football's restart in Germany:
Moment of reflection for victims
-- A minute's silence is being observed ahead of all games in Germany's top two tiers this week and next in memory of COVID-19 victims worldwide. Over 8,200 people have died from coronavirus-related causes in Germany, which has reported more than 175,000 cases. Players are also wearing black armbands in tribute. "The spread of the coronavirus has already taken many lives throughout the world. German professional football would like to express its condolences," German league chief executive Christian Seifert said this week.
Cut it out!
-- Borussia Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer was pictured seated next to his partner, Alina, among the home fans as 13,000 cardboard cut-outs 'watched' the team in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. An initiative launched by a Gladbach supporters' group has attracted plenty of interest, with fans jumping on the chance to have life-sized images of themselves in the stands. Thousands of people have taken up the offer, where they pay 19 euros to have their cut-out placed inside Borussia Park. Season ticket holders can even have their lookalike allocated to their regular spot. "It looks great, doesn't make any noise, but creates a certain atmosphere," said Gladbach defender Stefan Lainer. "It's definitely a great idea and I'm glad that so many took part."
Elbow room at the top
-- Bayern Munich maintained their four-point cushion at the top ahead of Tuesday's trip to second-placed Borussia Dortmund with a 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. With strict health protocols in place to limit contact between players to a minimum, the elbow-tap celebration was dusted off several times at the Allianz Arena as in-form Bayern recorded their 12th league win in 13 outings.
Protest banners out in force again
-- A number of dissenting banners criticising the league's resumption without fans were again visible across stadiums in Germany. Millions tuned in last weekend to watch some live football, but a significant portion remained unhappy at the idea of games going ahead without the noisy backdrop provided by German supporters. "Silent faces, cardboard reminders: Football without fans is nothing! For Borussia, against games behind closed doors!" read a series of banners at Gladbach's Borussia Park. Another in Paderborn, where the hosts drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim, said: "Basic law number one: the Bundesliga is above everything."
All ears for Dortmund coach
-- Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said one of the rare benefits to playing behind closed was the ability to instruct his players with relative ease. "I think it's positive that the players can now hear me better in the stadium," said Favre, able to grab the attention of his players far more easily than usual. "Normally only my wide players can understand me." The absence of fans has negated home advantage since the league's return -- with just three wins in 15 matches through Saturday for the home side.
Rare Beckenbauer outing
-- German football great Franz Beckenbauer was in attendance for Bayern's behind-closed-doors game at home to Eintracht, after he was invited by chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as part of an eight-person delegation that included former club president Uli Hoeness. "I'm leaving my house for the first time in a long time," 74-year-old Beckenbauer told German daily Bild. Beckenbauer, whose health has deteriorated in recent years, had to wear a face mask and sit several seats away from others in the delegation. His trial on corruption charges linked to the 2006 World Cup ended without a verdict late last month.
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