Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fans in Yellow-and-Black Are Stung to Death in the Beehive as Team Loses Plot

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fans in Yellow-and-Black Are Stung to Death in the Beehive as Team Loses Plot

Article excerpt


THEIR coach got booted out of the dugout, their star defender committed the booboo of the season, two key players got injured and their fans moaned about yet another backward step in the defence of their championship. Against their most bitter adversaries too.

All of which would have been manna to Arsene Wenger. For while he was down at The Valley raving about Arsenal's chances of winning the Champions League, his side's first European opponents, Borussia Dortmund, were suffering all kinds of trials and tribulations on a faintly barmy afternoon here in the Ruhr Valley.

This was Germany's most passionate derby, Dortmund against their Gelsenkirchen neighbours, Schalke, in front of 68,000 at Borussia's Westfalenstadion. Great theatre, shame about the football. It all felt a bit like Sunderland v Newcastle with bratwurst.

At one point amid a profusion of spiky clashes which resulted in seven cautions, the bemused ref was so unsure of who to book, he had to ask the players to point out the naughty boy to him.

Okay, so perhaps this singularly tribal occasion wasn't the best to judge the threat Dortmund may pose at Highbury tomorrow, yet those who've watched their stuttering start to the season reckoned the 1-1 draw fairly reflected a team which, Manchester United-like, have appeared to somewhat lose the plot.

"Yes, we've got some problems and it's difficult to pinpoint what's wrong," Christoph Metzelder, their World Cup revelation, conceded. For while unbeaten, they've managed to win just one of their five Bundesliga games so far. Ominously, Bayern Munich, who won on Saturday, already lead them by six points.

On Saturday, Metzelder noted ruefully, he himself didn't help, amateurishly getting caught in possession just outside his box to allow Schalke's Nigerian sub Victor Agali to score the 70th minute opener which momentarily reduced the south terrace to silence.

This is no easy feat. The terrace houses the single largest block of supporters to be found behind any goalmouth in Europe and when all 22,500 of them are screaming with their yellow-and-black scarves held aloft, the sensation is that they're all getting stung to death in some gargantuan beehive. …

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