I wasn't wearing any Bayern gear, but was found out anyway as my Blackberry has Bastian, in red and white, as it's home screen image. And the new friends I had made rolled their eyes at me: "Oh, well you're a girl, you can be a Bayern fan", "You're American, I guess it's allowed", "We'll take you as a Frankfurt fan for one day."
Well, sure I wanted Eintracht to win; only to lessen the humongous gap Dortmund's got as current Bundesliga leaders. What I didn't say was, "The best result would be a bomb blowing up in the stadium." They were, after all, buying me beers.
So, after a very satisfactory Frankfurt win, and a ho-hum St. Pauli - Mainz match, I turned my attention to the last Bundesliga match before the break: Vfb Stuttgart gegen FC Bayern Muenchen.
Unfortunately, the match tickets I had ordered never made it to my hotel, so I had to jump on the ICE to Stuttgart with nothing in hand. And for those of you who know me personally, you know how bad I am at taking trains. I am generally lost, or late, or ending up in a different country.
Somewhat surprisingly then, I made it to the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart with no problems. And after finding a scalper who wasn't trying to sell me tickets in the Stuttgarter tribune---
"Do you have tickets?"
"Haupttribune? I can't sit in the Stuttgart section."
I take my Bayern shawl out of my voluminous purse. "That's why not."
"Who do you like at Bayern? Ribery?"
"Uh.... no. He's French. I mean, I like the way he plays, but... Not my style." The Blackberry comes out. "Schweini."
"Isn't he a little young for you?"
I wink. "Ha. I like 'em that way!"
---High fives all around. Bayern shawl in place, and a match ticket in hand, I made my way in to the arena.
I get a lot of stares when I'm out-and-about. It's a curious thing, I suppose, for an American woman to be traveling, alone more often than not, wily-nily across Europe attending football matches. I was lucky to have a few other Bayern supporters sitting in my section, so I didn't feel completely alone. Although, the 8-year old boy sitting next to me looked at me like he wanted to kill me. I smiled, as that's the way it should be.
Now, I didn't get to see a stunner or anything. But it was very, very entertaining football. Mario Gomez's hat trick and assist to Mueller were especially nice as he shut the Cannstadtter curve up. Ribery's goal before the half was an absolute screamer which had me absolutely screaming. In English. Sticking out like a very sore thumb.
Half time saw me engaged in conversation with a few German guys who couldn't believe I was real. And as I was taking my seat for the second half, they called me over, and I sat with them for the remaining 45 minutes.
"You may regret asking me to sit here", I said after 54 minutes as I jumped up when Gomez scored his third. "Perhaps", they said, "But, it's not really your fault that our team is so bad."
Very pragmatic, those Germans.
It was a more lively second half, as Harnik and Gentner scored to bring the match to a more respectable Stuttgart showing of 3-5.
Both defenses looked absolutely horrible. Inexplicable to me, that after being up 5-1, we allowed Stuttgart to get back to 5-3. Neither Contento or Pranjic seemed comfortable in the left-back slot. And Gentner's goal completely fooled goalkeeper Butt, who just kind of watched it sail in.
However, the offense looked bright and lively, so heading in to the DFB Pokal match against Stuttgart (in Stuttgart once again), there's hope.
Not much hope for Stuttgart fans, though, as they turned away en masse from their team after the match, and then promptly held a demonstration outside the arena. Yay! Riot police!
My new friends took pity on me, as a Bayern fan not willing to wade through a mass of angry Stuttgarters. We went instead, in the opposite direction, to the Stuttgart club restaurant. Me with my Bayern shawl folded neatly in my purse as a sign of... ahem, respect.
And as I missed my last train back to Frankfurt (naturally), waiting to get the first morning one back, I ruminated. Out of all the Bayern matches I have been lucky to see live, I have only seen one loss. This May in Madrid. And I'm going to try like hell to get back to Munich for the Champions League revenge match against Inter.
Three matches. 11 goals scored. Schweinsteiger re-upping. All in all, not a bad Christmas vacation.
Besides that, I was lucky to make many new friends. My close ones remark that they know no one else who can walk in to an stadium, and come out laughing, enjoying beers with the enemy. Eh. It's part of my charm, I suppose. More than that, it's a shared love of football. There is true kinship there--- even across enemy lines.