German fans laid back, Slovakians celebrate downpour-threatened contest | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.05.2016
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German fans laid back, Slovakians celebrate downpour-threatened contest

There’s no denying that Germany’s defeat to Slovakia was disappointing for the home side. But the fans weren't worried on a night made memorable by a downpour that almost led to the match being called at the half.

As the German fans filed out of the WWK Arena on a wet Sunday evening in Augsburg, none of them appeared particularly perturbed by the fact that the reigning World Cup champions had just come out on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline against the 32nd team in the FIFA rankings.

This may have been because the majority of them seem to genuinely trust in head coach Joachim Löw. They were convinced that he will have his charges ready when it really counts, beginning with Germany's first game at Euro 2016 against Ukraine in Lille on June 12.

"It will all be different in France," one fan was heard to say as he and his buddy stood in a short queue for a post-match beer on the outside fringes of the stadium.

But the relaxed mood may also have something to do with the type of fan who seem to be in the majority when the national team play at home. This home crowd was very different from the kind you would tend to see at a Bundesliga match. Essentially absent were the hard-drinking, rowdy supporters you tend to see in the fan curves or ends - replaced by whole families wearing German jerseys and toting flags. On a very muggy afternoon prior to the game in Augsburg, there was even a hint of the festive feeling Germans enjoyed during their "summer fairytale", when the whole country seemed to get on board as the country hosted the World Cup in 2006.

But by the time German fans young and old were belting out the national anthem played by the German armed forces band, something else was clear: This was nowhere near a sellout. Just over 22,000 spectators turned up for the first national team game played in this stadium since it was built in 2009 - with a capacity of more than 30,000. It was only a friendly, one could argue, but you have to wonder how many were simply put off by the 80-euro price tag on the tickets for the side opposite the main stand, where whole blocks of seats remained empty.

There was a small, but loud, block of Slovakian fans in one corner of the Arena, but despite their low numbers, from the start they were usually louder than their German counterparts - with two major exceptions - when Mario Götze managed to draw a penalty - around the quarter hour mark - and when Mario Gomez confidently converted.

But the Slovakian fans weren't deterred for long, quickly picking up the chanting for their side, who continued to look for ways to threaten the German goal. And their enthusiasm would be rewarded soon enough, with their team taking a 2-1 lead into the halftime break. The Slovakian fans were beside themselves with glee and would not be quietened again on this night.

Fußball Deutschland Slowakei Wetter

Germany's friendly was close to being called off in Augsburg

The heavens open up

However, that's when everything changed. Dark clouds that had been threatening to discharge in the final minutes of the first period opened up with a torrential downpour just seconds after the referee blew up for the break.The journalists scrambled for the safety of the press room, where they soon congratulated themselves on the wisdom of that decision, watching the live television feed as the heavy rain was joined by hail for a time.

It was only after an extended halftime break of 40 minutes that the referee restarted the match, after playing the ball along the pitch in a couple of short passes to an assistant, to determine that the pitch was indeed playable.

He was only half right - as much of the pitch, particularly in the middle, remained waterlogged, making precise passing along the ground all but impossible. No excuses of course, the conditions were the same for both teams. But you have to think they weren't Marc Andre ter Stegen's friend, as the goalkeeper, who had replaced Bernd Leno at the half, as coach Löw sought to get a look at all of his available players, let a soft one slip through his hands and legs - to make it a 3-1 final for the visitors.

"Well that was no good," a print journalist with a heavy Bavarian accent quipped as he shut down his computer, having filed his article from an emptying press room. "Never mind, it all doesn't count until the 10th of June."

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