BERLIN. — A German football team lost 37-0 to their local rivals after fielding only seven players who socially distanced throughout the match.
Ripdorf fielded the minimum number of players on Sunday because their opponents SV Holdenstedt II came into contact in a previous game with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
Their team tested negative but Ripdorf said the conditions were not safe.
If Ripdorf had not played, they would have faced a €200 (£182) fine.
They had asked for the match — in the 11th tier of German football — to be postponed but the local association refused.
Ripdorf said they did not feel safe as at the time of the game 14 days had not yet passed since Holdenstedt players had come into contact with the person who tested positive.
Holdenstedt’s first team did not play in the match and the club fielded their second team.
At the beginning of the match, one of Ripdorf’s players stepped onto the pitch, passed the ball to an opponent and the team then walked to the sidelines.
Ripdorf co-chair Patrick Ristow told ESPN: “The Holdenstedt players did not understand. But we did not want to risk anything.”
He added of his players: “They did not go into direct duels and observed the social distancing rules, keeping two metres between them and Holdenstedt players.”
Holdenstedt did not hold back, scoring a goal every two or three minutes.
“There was no reason not to play this game,” Holdenstedt coach Florian Schierwater said.
Meanwhile, generally speaking, German football is a reliable mirror of the most efficient, and effective style of the day, which has meant a lot of different things through the years.
In the 1970s, it meant building from the back and playing an approximation of Netherlands’ Total Football, only with a bit more physicality and counter-attacking.
This approach, and the otherworldly skill of players like Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, led to a European Championship in 1972, a World Cup title in 1974 and a European finals appearance in 1976 for Germany (plus three straight European Cup titles for Bayern Munich).
In the 1980s, it meant something far more cynical.
Despite a lack of similar star power, the Germans finished third at worst in seven of nine European and World Cup tournaments from 1980 to 1996, and for most of that run, their play was marked by hard fouls and a level of pragmatism that even their Italian neighbors weren’t sure about.
When that style proved outdated into the 1990s — in short, when everyone else stopped using a sweeper and started relying more heavily on possession and speed and finesse — Germany began to look tired and old.
And by the early 2000s, the country as a whole seemed to go back to the drawing board.
What it emerged with benefited the entire football world.
Germany has, over the past decade and change, charged forward with a wonderfully optimistic style of play.
It works, too.
The national team finished in third place, at worst, in six straight major tournaments from 2006 to 2016.
Jurgen Klopp perfected his Gegenpressing approach at Borussia Dortmund at the turn of the decade, nearly conquered Europe with it, then finally did just that at Liverpool at the end of the decade.
Bayern Munich got thumped a few times by Klopp’s BVB, adapted with their own pressuring and high-possession style, before winning the 2013 and 2020 Champions Leagues (and every Bundesliga title in between).
The national team looked tired and old once again by 2018, but the country and their home league had set quite a bar for other countries to try to clear nonetheless.
To watch the Bundesliga in 2020 is to watch football seemingly without the ball ever stopping in midfield.
One team puts itself in decent scoring position, and then, the ball’s in scoring position on the other end.
Seven Bundesliga teams averaged, at least 1.85 expected goals per match, in 2019-20.
Only one other European Big Five league — Italy’s Serie A — had more than three such teams
Fourteen Bundesliga teams averaged more than three combined goals (for and against) per match.
Serie A was the only other league with more than three.
Ten Bundesliga teams created, at least, 10 chances per match or averaged, at least, five shots on target.
Serie A was the only other league with more than five in either category
These are good shots, too.
The Bundesliga has established an idealism, to which other leagues can only aspire.
Ticket prices remain middle class-friendly, the play is aspirational and sometimes risky, and when a club has a bright young talent — on either the roster or the coaching staff — they put them to work.
RB Leipzig manager, Julian Nagelsmann, is 33 years old and just led the team to the Champions League semis.
The league does, indeed, have a bit of a Bayern Munich problem at the moment, with the Bavarian giants having won the title eight straight years, but in fairness, Europe has a Bayern problem, too, right now.
The Bundesliga champs didn’t drop a single point in rolling to the 2020 Champions League crown, winning all 11 of their matches with a 43-8 scoring advantage. — ESPN.