Hamburg host second-placed Borussia Dortmund on Friday in the first of the weekend’s Bundesliga fixtures with security under scrutiny after the Paris terror attacks and bomb scare in Hanover.
Bundesliga chiefs insist it will be business as usual in Germany’s top two tiers with the weekend’s blue riband game seeing Schalke host Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich in Gelsenkirchen, which will be at 79,000 capacity.
But whether the weekend’s Bundesliga programme should take place at all has been debated after Tuesday’s Germany-Netherlands friendly in Hanover was called off due to a bomb scare, further shaking German football.
It came just four days after the Germany team experienced first-hand last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Armed police are expected to be seen at most grounds for the weekend’s fixtures with the German Football League (DFL) insisting safety is the top priority.
Senior police figures have urged German fans to abandon their usual practise of defying stadium rules by bringing noisy flares into grounds and firing them during matches, which could spark panic in the current tense climate.
There will be a minute’s silence before kick-off at all Bundesliga grounds to remember the victims of the Paris attacks which killed 129 people. Players in the top two tiers will wear black armbands.
Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says the show must go on at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion ground
“There is no alternative. We must show the civil courage and must not allow ourselves to capitulate to fear,” he said.
“Or else it allows those (terrorists) to celebrate, who should not be doing so.”
Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia admits the scenes from Paris and Hanover have added an element of fear to the German football landscape.
More important for game to go on
“It is the first time that it (terrorism) comes so close to the football,” said the Hamburg boss.
“Of course it troubles us, but I think it’s important we play.”
Pep Guardiola’s Bayern start a busy week in Gelsenkirchen as they host Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday, then play Hertha Berlin in Munich the following Saturday in the league.
Unbeaten in this season’s Bundesliga, Bayern are five-points clear and their Champions League defeat at Arsenal is the only blot on their copy book.
They will be without Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who has reinjured the medial ligaments in his right knee which he has already ruptured three times in his career and is expected to be out for up to four weeks.
Like all other clubs, the reigning champions are reviewing their security arrangements.
“We’ve been in intensive discussions with the safety authorities and police for several days. Once these are completed, we’ll provide information,” said Bayern’s media director Markus Hoerwick.
Hosts Schalke are fifth in the table, but winless in their last five games in all competitions.
Captain Benedikt Hoewedes is back from a hand injury and says their best chance of breaking their streak “is by sticking together. We’re always stronger at home.”
But coach Andre Breitenreiter, feeling the pressure and guilty of training ground tantrums lately, exploded: “that was zero quality!” during Tuesday’s morning session.
Third-placed Wolfsburg are at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday and eager to bounce back from their shock defeat to mid-table Mainz a fortnight ago, while Bremen are starting to climb the table after three wins in their last four games.
Wolfsburg’s director of sport Klaus Allofs said he will speak to his four players affected by the Hanover scare — Germany’s Julian Draxler, Max Kruse and Andre Schuerrle, plus Dutch striker Bas Dost.
“If a player didn’t want to play, I would understand it, but I don’t expect it,” said Allofs.