Posted: 3/17/2016


     If you had switched off the TV at half time and gone out to walk the dog, with Juventus leading 2-0 in the second leg at Allianz Arena, you would have missed an AMAZING turnaround. The first leg in Turin had finished 2-2 and it is very unusual for teams to score many goals against  tight Italian defences, but Pep Guardiola's team, who were 2-0 down in the return, managed to win 4- in extra time. The fact that Juventus are knocked out means that England will keep their 4 Champions League places for next season.

     Two weeks ago I was in that very same arena, having flown from Oslo and managed to get a ticket at the kiosk just outside Allianz, which are not usually available, and missed the first 7 minute of Bundesliga l v visiting Mainz 05. Not the most exciting clash on a Wednesday evening with the Red Tide running away with the title for the third season in a row as pep Guardiola's time comes to an end before he flies off to a new challenge at Manchester City's Etihad campus. On this chilly evening the visitors pressed all match and came out 21 winners. They are in 5th place and a possible European spot, while FCB are  points clear of Borussia Dortmund with the rest WAY BACK.

         You take the S8 to Marienplatz and then U 6 to Frottmanning. There in front of you, about 300 metres away, is that big red glow in the night sky. The translucent skin covering Allianz Arena can change colours depending on the home team. Bright red for FC Bayern, light blue when Bundesliga 2 club TSV 1860 Munich are at home, and all white for 'die Mannschaft' , the German national team, the current World Champions. However the first of my 20 or so visits since 2006 was for the FIFA World Cup semi-final France v Portugal with its all white appearance and I was lucky enough to be gifted a VIP ticket with a banquet of food and drink before and at half time.

        l FSV Mainz 05 (die Nullfunfer- 0-Fives), come from the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate, a Roman city on the west bank of the River Rhine and where printing from the Guttenberg press started. More recently in was the home club of Jurgen Klopp who then coached them for 7 seasons before fame and fortune in Dortmund. It's one of the big three carnival cities, along with Dusseldorf and Cologne and they play the 'Narrhallamarsch' at home matches.

         Juve had three key players missing on the night including Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisino and Paul Dybala. They are 3 points ahead of Napoli and 8 clear of Roma in Serie A.  Juve shocked their hosts with a goal from Paul Pogda in the 5th minute, with Cuadrado doubling the lead at 28 minutes. Juve, The Old Lady, seemed destined for the quarter finals. Guardiola brought on Alcantara and Coman, which was an inspired move. Kingsley Coman, on loan from the Turin club, set up both second half goals, first for Robert Lewiandowski after 71 minutes and again for Thomas Muller in the first minute of added time. PHEW!!!

           Thiago Alcantara and Coman scored the two vital extra time goals to win the tie 64 and it they against Benfica, Lisbon who had put out Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 on aggregate. FCB have 70,00 members and 4,000 officially recognised fan clubs, so tickets, even for away matches are at a premium. While they have a large standing section for home matches, UEFA does not allow standing and Champions League fixtures.

           'STERN DES SUDENS' ..'Star of the South'  is the club song which the fans, including  numerous Ultra groups, such as Schickeria Munchen, Inferno Bavaria, Red Munchen '89, Sud Kurve '73, and Red Angels, sing with passion as they display their banners and wave their gigantic flags throughout. The Ultras have won many awards for combating racism, sexism and more.