“We’re going to the stadium this evening . . .” the message on my phone read. Earlier in the week my partner had mentioned there was a possibility of getting football tickets from his workmate. And as it was 10:54 am on 5 April 2023, that could mean only one thing: the quarter-final of the DFB-Pokal featuring RB Leipzig against Borussia Dortmund in Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena!
The DFB-Pokal is a German knockout football cup competition held annually from August to June by the German Football Association. It is considered the second-most important club title in German football after the Bundesliga championship, and 64 teams from the Bundesliga and 2 Bundesliga participate in the tournament.
Before the DFB-Pokal
As title defenders, RB Leipzig had famously been riding a wave of success, playing 18 undefeated games in the last three competitions. However, the team’s luck had recently turned after a 0:3 loss against Mainz and three goalless games. On April 5, the Leipziger Volkszeitung reported RB Leipzig Trainer Marco Rose as saying, “We are taking the situation mega-seriously.”
The word from Borussia Dortmund (BVB) was that the season had not been easy, as all of the team’s matches had been away games. On the day of the match the LVZ also quoted BVB Trainer Edin Terzic as saying that if the team wanted to claim the title, they had to do the hard work: “We know what we have to do to win.”
Getting to the game
So, it was clearly game on for the teams involved.
For me, it was more about the experience of simply being there at my first RB Leipzig game, and more immediately getting there. As the sunlight faded, my partner and I squeezed into a packed tram headed around the inner-city ring to the Red Bull Arena on Cottaweg.
I was pleased to have a bright red jacket on as we were swept along in the red sea of 47,069 fans—never had I been among so much humanity! The BVB fans clad in yellow and black were obviously in the minority, but happily, I didn’t witness any angst and felt safe among the crowd.
During the game
Kick-off was at 8:45 pm, and the atmosphere was humming as we ascended the steps to the hallowed ground, guided by the glowing red tower of the original 1956 stadium.
The brilliant green of the field dramatically complemented all the red—red lighting, red seats and red people—as we entered the Leipzig fan block and took in the awesome scene. We claimed our standing spot (who needs seats?) for the next 90 minutes, and the entertainment began. As the players warmed up on the field, three “crowd conductors” got the crowd ready for the match.
To the uninitiated, the carefully choreographed performance of RB Leipzig chants at the DFB-Pokal was simply impressive.
The numerous varied songs were belted out enthusiastically with the volume turned right up. They sometimes involved the twirling of scarves or moves that looked like aerobics to the beat of a persistent drum. The waving of massive—and at times obstructive—flags accompanied the very serious shenanigans. As the game got underway, the ante was only upped and from the heart of the Leipzig block it quickly became clear why BVB had concluded that away games are not easy!
RB Leipzig dominated the first quarter of the game, and 22 minutes in, Timo Werner popped in a goal and it was 1-0 at half-time. The crowd naturally went wild.
Thirsty from all the chanting and activity, beer was downed, and the second half got underway. Don’t ever let it be said that football fans can’t multitask—the entertainment on and off the field continued as the stadium itself was physically put through its paces. It was truly a multi-sensory experience!
While the second half was less eventful on the field, those chanting “Auf geht’s Leipziger Jungs, schiess ein Tor für uns!” (“Let’s go Leipzig lads, shoot a goal for us!”) were eventually rewarded with a runaway goal in extra time shot beautifully by Will Orbán. What a way to wind up the night and my first RB Leipzig experience!
After the quarter-finals come the semi-finals, with the following games to be played on May 3, 2023, at 8:30 pm:
- SC Freiburg versus RB Leipzig (at Europa-Park Stadion, Freiburg in Breisgau)
- VFB Stuttgart versus Eintracht Frankfurt (at Mercedes-Benz-Arena, Stuttgart)
The name “RB Leipzig”
To avoid any confusion about the acronym in the name “RB Leipzig,” the following explanation may help. RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V. was founded in May 2009, with all seven founding members being either employees or agents of Red Bull GmbH. As the statutes of the DFB do not allow a corporate name to be included in a club name, the club adopted the unusual name RasenBallsport, literally “Lawn Ball Sport.” Cleverly, by using the initials “RB” the club’s corporate identity can still be recognised!
Essential football vocab
|das Spiel, die Spiele
|das Tor, die Tore
|to shoot/score a goal
|ein Tor schieβen/erzielen
|die gelbe Karte
|der Schiedsrichter/die Schiedsrichterin