Friday 29th April 2016 – MSV Duisburg 2 – 1 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Bundesliga 2 @ MSV-Arena, Duisburg
“He’s the Georgian Messi, mate….”
So last month I went to Germany. Düsseldorf to be exact, used as a base for visiting two of the many clubs based in Germany’s Upper-Rhine region (and to take advantage of the excellent pubs in the Old Town of course).
The first trip was on Friday night to the MSV-Arena, home of MSV Duisburg. At the time of booking, MSV Duisburg were rooted to the bottom of Bundesliga 2, and despite this being a local derby against Fortuna Düsseldorf, we were apprehensive as to whether this would be one turning up.
We were not to be disappointed.
Duisburg is one of the smaller towns in the area, and like much of its surroundings, heavily industrialised. To get to the MSV-Arena however, which sits on the outskirts, you don’t need to go into the town itself. Which whilst a shame, fit in with our flights. It took two attempts to get on the S-Bhan, such was the throng of Fortuna fans travelling alongside us, but after that it is a 35 minute journey, and roughly 10 minute walk at the other side.
The ground itself, whilst large (over 30k in capacity), looks basic from the outside, pretty much a large steel and concrete square. Our tickets that day were on the home terrace, a snip at €12.
Once inside, you are greeted by an open concourse, selling beer and food (all of which looked delicious – and was a far cry from the pie and rubbery hot dog served in the UK). The first lesson for us however was get there early, particularly for a local derby. The terrace was packed even 45 minutes before KO. Speaking to the locals, Duisburg’s lowly position this season means they average no more than 22k supporters for most matches. But being against local rivals, this was a full house. So we had to make do, at first, with a small strip next to the seating area, which didn’t offer the greatest views of the pitch, but did offer a decent vantage point to observe the festivities kicking off in the rest of the stand.
Roughly 20 minutes before kick off, and aided by the announcer and some music, the home fans started a barrage of songs, flag waving, and general rowdiness. It was impressive. My last experience of German football had been in the St. Pauli away end at 1860 Munich, where despite their reputation, it was a relatively tame affair. The demonstration of support extended way beyond kick off, though the flags were lost as soon as the whistle went, ceremoniously thrown below the stand.
A word also for the Düsseldorf fans. Whilst fairly quiet in the first half, the ground was filled with smoke from flares in the second, and at one point the match was stopped whilst the chap swinging a flare round on some rope was asked to stop. Most of the actions of fans in Germany would result in a banning order back home, here it was just part of the fun.
The match itself, as you might expect for two teams at the foot of Bundesliga 2, whilst low in quality, was played at the high tempo characteristic of a local derby and a game where so much at stake. A loss for Duisburg would almost certainly confine them to German third division football. A win would give them a chance, and drag Duisburg into the mix.
A local we befriended described Duisburg as being like Villa that season; they looked doomed by Christmas. But unlike Villa, they mounted an incredible comeback. Düsseldorf he described as Chelsea; richer than most clubs in that division and expected to win promotion with ease, but whose team of stars had not gelled, and now resided in the bottom half.
He also advised that if Duisburg scored we would be soaked in beer. Just after the half-time break they did. And we were.
The first goal took the atmosphere to a new level; the aforementioned flares came out and the Duisburg fans increased the volume. A second goal wasn’t far behind – a victory against the local enemy, made shaky by Düsseldorf pulling one back, was secured and they were in with a chance of beating the drop.
The party, and beer drinking, continued long after the final whistle. I’m not sure how the customary Premier League quick wave at the fans would go down in Germany, were mutual worship post-game appears the norm.
It is difficult to articulate afterwards how good the atmosphere really was. In what could have been a dead rubber – Duisburg looked doomed when the tickets were booked – turned out to be a cracking local derby, and set is up nicely for a weekend of football. As I write this a month on, unfortunately Duisburg did go down, losing in the relegation play-offs. It is however well worth the trip, and if you can get a game against one of their local rivals, all the better.
Other photos from the MSV-Arena