FC Bayern lost the test match against Manchester City. But the game at Lambeau Field, the stadium of the NFL club Green Bay Packers, was something very special.
Green Bay – Game day is a public holiday. Driving through tranquil Green Bay, it quickly becomes clear: This is all about American football. According to taxi drivers, not being for the Packers team is considered a sin in the city of around 100,000 inhabitants. The club logo with the big G is emblazoned everywhere.
The sights? In addition to the many mini breweries, there are the statues of the Packers legends. And above all, the cult stadium Lambeau Field, which can accommodate 81,441 spectators. With the test match on Saturday evening between FC Bayern and Manchester City (0:1), another sport was played there for the first time. The crowd was huge, 78,128 people, some wearing the foam cheese hats typical of Green Bay Packers supporters, were there.
FC Bayern experiences NFL atmosphere: tailgating and cornhole
The fans gathered in front of the stadium hours before kick-off. In a small ‘town’ within the town, visitors can sprint on a running track, play table tennis or just drink beer. Photos with the English Premier League trophy from Manchester City or the championship trophy from FC Bayern were also popular, and the queues were always long.
But the most striking thing: the so-called tailgating. This US tradition sees fans grilling in the parking lots on game day or just having a good time. The food and drinks are usually served from the trunks of the cars. Cornhole is often played in tailgating. A pastime that involves taking turns throwing small sacks filled with corn onto a platform with a hole.
Everything was prepared for a football festival. But just before 6 p.m., a storm ruined the planned kick-off. The thunderstorm radar was displayed on the stadium screens. Suddenly, a shrill alarm sounded on almost all cell phones. A severe weather warning from Brown County Emergency Management.
A few minutes later, the game kicked off to great applause at a sold-out Lambeau Field. Shortly after ex-Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (21) gave ManCity the lead in the 12th minute, the cell phone sirens sounded again. Next severe weather warning, next interruption. Many fans, who were actually asked to get to safety indoors, did not let the mood spoil. Both American Bayern and City supporters gathered behind the gates and made quite a stir. They chanted: “We want football!” Translated: We want football.
FC Bayern plays in the sacred NFL arena: “Incredible! I have never experienced something like that”
Although… In the US, that could also mean American football. Tonight it didn’t matter. The atmosphere despite the filthy weather: outstanding! “This is madness! I’ve never experienced anything like it,” enthused Bayern legend Giovane Elber, who celebrated his 50th birthday at Lambeau Field.
At 6:55 p.m., the stadium announcer announced that the game could finally continue. Huge cheers!
After the stars had briefly warmed up again, the referee gave the go-ahead. Those responsible decided that both halves should only last 40 minutes each due to the interruptions. Final score: 1-0 for City with coach Pep Guardiola (51). “We had problems in the first ten or twelve minutes. We didn’t find the best positions, played too many long balls. The pressure from City was too high,” analyzed FCB coach Julian Nagelsmann (35). “It got better after the first longer break. The performance wasn’t that bad, we had more control, better positions. Especially in the second half after Jamal Musiala came on. He was brilliant. We could have scored a few goals too.”
In the end, one thing counted above all: this event was an advertisement for soccer in the USA.
Philipp Kessler reports from Green Bay