The same, but different. It seems the best we can hope for in this new normal that nobody wanted.

For the first time since the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munch and Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga was at the centre of the football world on Saturday.

Tentative steps taken elsewhere, most notably in Korea, meant the global audience tuning in knew much of what to expect in terms of oddities - from players and staff arriving in masks, to their voices echoing around cavernous stadia.

But how would the football look in this setting? Would there be a pre-season feel as one of Europe's elite leagues punched below its weight?

In each of the five Saturday afternoon kick-offs, there was evidence of players feeling their way in amid peculiar circumstances.

In the Revierderby, Schalke enjoyed more territory than Dortmund during the opening minutes, attacking a Yellow Wall without a single one of its howling bricks at Signal Iduna Park.

At the Red Bull Arena, the other side rivalling Bayern for the title, RB Leipzig looked not to have missed a beat as the slickly set about Freiburg.

Those early suggestions were entirely deceptive. Never mind your latest Netflix series, the Bundesliga has you covered for sneaking, snaking plot twists.

This was a slow burning drama, with almost half an hour passing before a goal was scored. When it arrived, it came from a superstar member of the cast.

Erling Haaland's 29th-minute opener was a beautiful goal, immaculately constructed. Julian Brandt, who schemed wonderfully to befuddle the Schalke defence for much of the match, sent a cute flick into Thorgan Hazard's path.

The Belgium international's clipped cross allowed Haaland to open his body and coolly finish left footed for a 10th goal in nine Bundesliga outings. Much as crowd noise was wanting, the crunch of the ball hitting the netting was a sound to enjoy everywhere apart from Gelsenkirchen. It's still nice to see, hear and feel nice things.

Haaland's choice of celebration was a swaggering dance at an acceptable distance from his team-mates. This jarred a little, only because the teenager had just got involved in penalty area confrontation with Jean-Clair Todibo at close quarters.

Incidentally, the lack of fans meant Todibo could be heard suggesting Haaland do something unmentionable to this grandmother that would certainly be at odds with social distancing.

Pandemic-aware celebrations elsewhere saw Renato Steffen punch fists with Wolfsburg team-mates after an emphatically thumping header set their 2-1 win at Augsburg in motion, while Freiburg bumped elbows with one another when Manuel Gulde's fortuitous flick stunned Leipzig.

Captain Yussuf Poulsen equalised before Freiburg thought they had a winner, although through Robin Koch's humerus hitting happiness was short-lived due to the looming, all-knowing baddie most people can't abide – VAR, the Carole Baskin of the piece.

The more the action wore on, the easier it felt to immerse yourself in familiar story lines.

Three consecutive draws mean Leipzig's title push is spluttering, while Dortmund's is powering through the gears. Their other goals in the 4-0 shellacking of Schalke were just as easy on the eye as Haaland's.

Raphael Guerreiro was on target twice, either side of Hazard as Brandt continued to slice the visitors apart on a day when their goalkeeper Markus Schubert could scarcely have looked less composed.

At the other end of the table, Fortuna Dusseldorf hit post and bar on three occasions as they drew 0-0 with bottom club Paderborn – profligacy they will hope does not haunt them in the final analysis.

After half-time, the goals piled up alongside some clanging errors. Perhaps a by-product of fitness levels still needing to be sharpened, but maybe just football being football.

No element of the Leipzig lockdown could be blamed for Ademola Lookman's howling close-range miss, a moment when the English youngster was probably thankful no fans could offer helpful pointers.

Ihlas Bebou erred with the goal similarly at his mercy for Hoffenheim and the Dietmar Hopp financed outfit crashed further, unable to reboot from Kevin Akpoguma's own goal as Hertha Berlin stormed to a 3-0 away victory.

By contrast, Wolfsburg left it late and Daniel Ginczek gave the Bundesliga's return a stoppage-time winner.

Overall, the distraction of the strange settings did not stop this being a nice distraction. So long as risks to the health and welfare of those involved are at a minimum – and the Bundesliga has been rigorous – that feels okay.

Wonderful goals and dreadful errors, beauty and comedy, a Bundesliga title race and a relegation scrap. The same, but different and a welcome addition to the new normal.

After a two-month absence due to the coronavirus crisis, football in one of Europe's major leagues returns on Saturday as the Bundesliga resumes.

Though no fans will be present in the grounds, there are sure to be millions watching from home as the German top flight gets back up and running.

The Revierderby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund is the headline fixture, while title hopefuls RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach are also in action on Saturday.

There is a crunch clash between strugglers Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn, with two places and six points separating the teams.

Elsewhere, Augbsurg host Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim go up against Hertha Berlin.

Using Opta data, we take a look ahead to all of Saturday's Bundesliga fixtures.

 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn

10 – Fortuna occupy the relegation play-off place as it stands and have won just one of their last 10 league games against Paderborn, defeating them in April 2014 in the second tier.

22 – Fortuna's tally of 22 points from 25 games represents their second-worst points haul at this stage of a Bundesliga season. They are also without a win in four league matches.

4 – Paderborn have lost their last four Bundesliga games. They last had a similar losing run in September and October this season, when they suffered five defeats on the bounce.

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

180 – This will be the 180th Revierderby. Dortmund have only won one of the last eight meetings, beating Schalke 2-1 in December 2018. 

1 – Dortmund's 4-2 defeat in their last home clash with Schalke is their only league defeat at Signal Iduna Park under Lucien Favre.

14 – David Wagner's Schalke were only one point behind Dortmund prior to their first meeting this season, but 14 points now separate the sides.

9 – Since signing for Dortmund in January, Erling Haaland (9) has scored more than double the amount of goals Schalke (4) have managed since the mid-season break so far.

387 – Schalke have only managed to score once in their last 387 minutes of Bundesliga action, whereas Dortmund have scored 10 times in the same amount of minutes.

800 – Should Dortmund win, it would be their 800th Bundesliga victory. Schalke, meanwhile, will have let in 2,500 Bundesliga goals should they concede at least once on Saturday.

 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg

2 – Leipzig had not enjoyed the best start to 2020 prior to the suspension of the league. They had won just two of their last seven Bundesliga games, drawing their last two.

43 – Against current Bundesliga teams, Leipzig only have a higher loss percentage against Bayern (50 per cent) than Freiburg (43 per cent).

26 – Leipzig have conceded just 26 goals in the Bundesliga this term, meaning they have the joint-best defence, along with Bayern.

252 – Freiburg's 3-1 win against Union Berlin last time out ended the club's run of 252 minutes without a goal. They netted three times against Union, which is more than in their previous six games combined (2).

 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin

8 – Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last eight Bundesliga matches against Hertha. They have never managed a longer undefeated run in the top flight against any other side.

5 – However, Hoffenheim have gone their last five Bundesliga games in a row without a win.

48 – Hertha, meanwhile, have conceded 48 goals after 25 Bundesliga games this season. They last let in at least as many at this stage in 1990-91, when they were relegated.

Augbsurg v Wolfsburg

8 – Augsburg's heaviest Bundesliga defeat came against Wolfsburg in May 2019, as they went down 8-1 away from home.

18 – While Wolfsburg have conceded just 17 goals in the second half of Bundesliga matches this season, Augsburg have let in 18 since the winter break.

20 – Only struggling Werder Bremen (21) have dropped more points from winning positions than Augsburg (20) this term.

 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach

0 – After winning both Bundesliga matches against Gladbach in 2017-18, Frankfurt have not won any of their last three games against the Foals.

34 – However, Eintracht have beat Gladbach 34 times in the Bundesliga in total. They have only recorded more victories over Bremen.

49 – Gladbach have taken 49 points from the first 25 Bundesliga matches of the season – this is the same as in their title-winning campaign of 1974-75.

100 – Should Oscar Wendt feature in a Gladbach triumph, he would bring up his 100th Bundesliga win, becoming the first foreign-born player to reach the milestone with the club.

The Bundesliga is back and the new schedule has been confirmed by the German Football League (DFL).

After the German government on Wednesday granted permission for the top two tiers to return behind closed doors, DFL chief executive Christian Seifert confirmed games will get back under way on May 16.

The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke will headline the first group of matches, while league leaders Bayern Munich are in action next Sunday and Bayer Leverkusen will travel to Werder Bremen the following day.

The rest of the Bundesliga season has also been mapped out, with the eight rounds of fixtures – and Werder's game in hand against Eintracht Frankfurt – to be contested before the final day on June 27.

 

Matchday 26 (all times local):
May 16 – 15:30: Borussia Dortmund v Schalke
May 16 – 15:30: RB Leipzig v Freiburg
May 16 – 15:30: Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin
May 16 – 15:30: Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn
May 16 – 15:30: Augsburg v Wolfsburg
May 16 – 18:30: Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach
May 17 – 15:30: Cologne v Mainz
May 17 – 18:00: Union Berlin v Bayern Munich
May 18 – 20:30: Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen

Matchday 27 (from May 22-24):
Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt
Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
Hertha Berlin v Union Berlin
Mainz v RB Leipzig
Freiburg v Werder Bremen
Schalke v Augsburg
Cologne v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Paderborn v Hoffenheim

Matchday 28 (May 26-27):
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin
Bayer Leverkusen v Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg
Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach
Hoffenheim v Cologne
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke
Augsburg v Paderborn
Union Berlin v Mainz

Matchday 29 (May 29-June 1):
Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Borussia Monchengladbach v Union Berlin
Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt
Hertha Berlin v Augsburg
Mainz v Hoffenheim
Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen
Schalke v Werder Bremen
Cologne v RB Leipzig
Paderborn v Borussia Dortmund

Matchday 24 (June 2/3):
Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt

Matchday 30 (June 5-8):
Borussia Dortmund v Hertha Berlin
RB Leipzig v Paderborn
Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz
Werder Bremen v Wolfsburg
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Hoffenheim
Freiburg v Borussia Monchengladbach
Augsburg v Cologne
Union Berlin v Schalke

Matchday 31 (June 12-14):
Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach
Wolfsburg v Freiburg
Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Borussia Dortmund
Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz v Augsburg
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen
Cologne v Union Berlin
Paderborn v Werder Bremen

Matchday 32 (June 16-17):
Borussia Dortmund v Mainz
RB Leipzig v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Bayer Leverkusen v Cologne
Borussia Monchengladbach v Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt v Schalke
Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich
Freiburg v Hertha Berlin
Augsburg v Hoffenheim
Union Berlin v Paderborn

Matchday 33 (all at 15:30 local time on June 20):
Bayern Munich v Freiburg
RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund
Hoffenheim v Union Berlin
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Augsburg
Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen
Mainz v Werder Bremen
Schalke v Wolfsburg
Cologne v Eintracht Frankfurt
Paderborn v Borussia Monchengladbach

Matchday 34 (all at 15:30 local time on June 27):
Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim
Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach v Hertha Berlin
Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt v Paderborn
Werder Bremen v Cologne
Freiburg v Schalke
Augsburg v RB Leipzig
Union Berlin v Fortuna Dusseldorf

The Bundesliga has been given the green light by the German government to return in May, so football fans across the globe can look forward to live, top-level football matches once again.

The suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic means there are nine full rounds of fixtures left to play – Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen will contest their game in hand against one another – and the German Football League is set to announce a resumption date on Thursday.

Can Bayern Munich, who sit four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit, hold off their challengers and win the Bundesliga for the eighth year in a row? Which team from the top five will fail to qualify for the Champions League? Who is destined for the drop?

We take a look at the key remaining fixtures - all of which will take place behind closed doors - that could provide the answers to those questions, though it remains to be seen if they will be played on the matchdays they were initially scheduled for.

 

MD26: Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

The Revierderby is always a match to look forward to and Schalke would no doubt take great pleasure in denting Dortmund's title ambitions by securing a positive result at Signal Iduna Park.

MD27: Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen

It seems unlikely Leverkusen or Gladbach will be able to gain enough ground on Bayern to launch a late title challenge, though stranger things have happened. This clash could well be key to deciding who earns a spot in the top four and consequently next season's Champions League.

MD28: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

It does not get much bigger than Der Klassiker in the Bundesliga. Lose this match and Dortmund will essentially be kissing goodbye to their hopes of winning the league for the first time since 2012.

MD31: Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach

Regardless of how Bayern do against Dortmund, they will need a positive result against Gladbach, who, along with RB Leipzig, could still be in the hunt for the title. Marco Rose's side won the reverse fixture this season and claimed a shock 3-0 victory in their previous visit to the Allianz Arena.

MD31: Paderborn v Werder Bremen

Rooted to the foot of the table, Paderborn look destined for an immediate return to the 2. Bundesliga. A win over Bremen could change that, but this is huge too for the four-time Bundesliga champions. Bremen will know they cannot afford to lose this match if they are to avoid suffering relegation for the first time since 1980.

MD33: RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund

If Bayern are still within reach when Leipzig and Dortmund go head to head at the Red Bull Arena, this game could prove pivotal to keeping title ambitions alive. For the losers, their hopes of Champions League qualification could be placed in doubt.

MD33: Wolfsburg v Schalke

Breaking into the top five looks out of reach for Wolfsburg and Schalke, who are separated by just one point. With Freiburg level with Wolfsburg on 36 points and Hoffenheim one back in ninth, this game will likely have Europa League qualification riding on it.

MD34: Mainz v Werder Bremen

Bremen will be hoping to pull off a great escape when the season resumes and a victory over Mainz, who are eight points ahead of Florian Kohfeldt's side and four clear of the relegation play-off spot, will likely be essential if survival remains a possibility. It could be a very nervy encounter at Opel Arena.

Passing the ball can sometimes look like the easiest thing in the world to do. At least, it does when these guys do it.

Our latest dive into the data of 2019-20 sees us look at the best playmakers in Europe's top-five leagues before the season was called to a halt.

We've deliberately broadened our approach to what constitutes a playmaker here – Gerard Pique doesn't often appear as a number 10, unless Barca are in real trouble – as the idea is to offer a wider consideration of those players who generally use the ball better than most when in possession.

To that end, we've looked at 12 different metrics to come up with the top performers of the campaign, again from among those to make at least 10 league appearances.

While some stars are not exactly strange to see in the list below, there is a handful of more surprising names, too...

 

THE TOP PLAYMAKERS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most successful passes: Sven Bender (1,766)
Highest passing accuracy: Axel Witsel (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Joshua Kimmich (873)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Axel Witsel (92.2)
Most passes ending in final third: Jadon Sancho (576)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Axel Witsel (88.4 per cent)
Most chances created: Christopher Nkunku (65)
Most big chances created: Thomas Muller (24)
Most assists: Thomas Muller (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Dennis Geiger (50 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most successful passes: Gerard Pique (1,688)
Highest passing accuracy: Toni Kroos (93.6 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Sergio Busquets (957)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Toni Kroos (92.4)
Most passes ending in final third: Lionel Messi (698)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Toni Kroos (90.3)
Most chances created: Jose Campana (58)
Most big chances created: Lionel Messi (22)
Most assists: Lionel Messi (12)
Most assists from open play: Portu and Lionel Messi (8)
Most crosses/corners successful: Jesus Navas (43)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most successful passes: Marco Verratti (1,581)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Marco Verratti (956)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Thiago Silva (92.8 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Angel Di Maria (543)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Colin Dagba (86 per cent)
Most chances created: Dimitri Payet (87)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Angel Di Maria (14)
Most assists from open play: Angel Di Maria (10)
Most crosses/corners successful: Dimitri Payet (63)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Marco Verratti (54.6 per cent)

 

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: John Stones (94 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (23)
Most assists: Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Kevin De Bruyne (14)
Most crosses/corners successful: Kevin De Bruyne (69)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Christian Atsu (47.1 per cent)

 

SERIE A:

Most successful passes: Fabian Ruiz (1,488)
Highest passing accuracy: Marlon Santos (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Fabian Ruiz (932)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: Eljif Elmas (91.5 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Luis Alberto (723)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Walace (89.7 per cent)
Most chances created: Luis Alberto (75)
Most big chances created: Luis Alberto (16)
Most assists: Luis Alberto (12)
Most assists from open play: Luis Alberto and Alejandro Gomez (9)
Most crosses/corners successful: Erick Pulgar (46)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Armando Izzo (54.6 per cent)

 

AND THE TOP 12:

Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Thomas Muller and Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)

 

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is the best in Europe in the box and could well be the world's leading talent in the future, according to Norway team-mate Havard Nordtveit.

After surging into the spotlight with a series of phenomenal Champions League displays at Salzburg, Dortmund stumped up €25million to activate the release clause in Haaland's contract and bring him to the Bundesliga.

The 19-year-old has maintained his stunning form, scoring 12 goals in 11 appearances – seven of which have come as part of the starting line-up – in all competitions for BVB before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to action in all major leagues across Europe.

Nordtveit, who also plays in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim, expects Haaland to remain on an upward trajectory in part due to his dedication in off-field areas.

"He is perhaps already the best in Europe in the penalty area. He is also super professional, focusing a lot on things like sleep and nutrition," Nordtveit told SID.

"He does everything he can to become the best player in the world. It could work out.

"He has already broken the boundaries. You can barely stop him. Give him a few more years. If he can use his body even more, it will be difficult for any defender in the Bundesliga and from bigger leagues."

He added: "He's not a superstar in the dressing room. He has remained true to himself and a great person."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer was "stunned" by the events at his side's match at Hoffenheim and has revealed the club's hierarchy will meet in the coming days.

What should have been a joyous 6-0 away win for Bayern on Saturday was soured when the contest was halted during the second half after visiting fans held up banners insulting Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp.

After the referee enforced the stoppage to facilitate the banners' removal following appeals from the Bayern players, the two teams saw out the rest of the match by passing the ball among themselves as a show of solidarity towards Hopp.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge apologised for what they described as "ugly" protests, while Hopp has told his critics he will not stop attending games.

In an open letter to supporters, Hainer joined the condemnation and will be involved in meetings to discuss the next steps that will be taken.

"All of us at FC Bayern are still stunned by yesterday's incidents in Hoffenheim," he wrote on Sunday.

"We are ashamed of the behaviour of a few so-called "fans" in the FC Bayern terrace and seating area during the game. 

"Dietmar Hopp was insulted in the worst imaginable way by a few idiots with a banner. He was defamed, from a distance, anonymously, namelessly, and in a cowardly way. The events were an absolute low point.

"On behalf of the entire club, I would like to apologise once again to Dietmar Hopp for this!"

After reiterating the club's values of tolerance and respect, Hainer added: "We will not allow our club to be damaged by a tiny minority.

"[They are] people who are not concerned about football and FC Bayern, but about showing off on a stage that does not belong to them.  

"It is high time to act decisively. Racism, exclusion, insults and discrimination of any kind and against anyone must stop now. This is also the opinion of the overwhelming majority of FC Bayern fans.

"In the next few days, the relevant bodies at FC Bayern Munich will meet and talk. We will examine all the options to prevent a repetition of events as undignified as those in Hoffenheim. 

"We will also use all the means at our disposal to take decisive action against those who have discredited FC Bayern and the whole of German football, and trampled on our values."

Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp has told those who protest against his backing of the Bundesliga club that he will not stop attending matches.

Saturday's 6-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich was halted during the second half after visiting fans held up banners insulting Hopp.

After the referee took the players off the pitch to wait for the banners' removal following appeals from the Bayern players, the two teams saw out the rest of the match by passing the ball among themselves as a show of solidarity towards Hopp.

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge apologised after the match for what they described as "ugly" and shameful protests.

Speaking to Sport1, Hopp said: "If I remotely knew what these idiots wanted from me, it would be all the easier for me to understand.

"I can't explain why they are so hostile towards me. It reminds me of very dark times.

"I don't want to talk to these people. It's pointless. They live in another world. I don't want to and I can't talk to them, not at all. I don't know what to say to them.

"Why shouldn't I go to the stadium anymore? The people who do this are the ones who should stay away."

There were similar scenes in Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 win over Freiburg, when a tannoy announcement called for Dortmund fans to cease anti-Hopp chants.

The apparent anger from supporters stems from frustration with the way Hoffenheim have risen through the German leagues to become a major player in the Bundesliga thanks to Hopp's significant financial backing.

In December 2014, Hopp was granted an exemption from German football's '50+1' rule, which states that members – who are almost certainly fans – must control 50 per cent of a club's shares with voting rights, thereby preventing external parties from buying controlling stakes.

Exemptions can be granted for investors who can prove they have provided large-scale, consistent support for a club over 20 years. Bayer Leverkusen – founded by workers of pharmaceutical giant Bayer in 1904 – and Wolfsburg, who are affiliated with Volkswagen, are two such examples.

The German Football League (DFL) said at the time that a key part of their decision to grant Hopp's exemption was that he "has provided considerable financial support for both the professional as well as the amateur teams of the club".

While the 50+1 rule is widely popular among German football fans who are keen to see clubs avoid falling into the hands of potentially reckless owners motivated by profit –there remains deep animosity towards RB Leipzig's swift progress thanks to the backing of Red Bull – former Bayern winger Mario Basler thinks the latest scenes in Hoffenheim highlight the danger of giving supporters too much influence.

"We're used to things. You get attacked on the internet. You encounter incredible hatred there, and also in the stadiums. But this weekend – that was a culmination," he said to Sport1.

"Ultras are given too much power. The clubs are afraid. They [the ultras] are not for football, but against it. They have to get out of the stadiums."

Former Bayern and Germany star Stefan Effenberg added: "The DFB [German Football Association] and the DFL are responsible. Everyone knows the problem, but nobody does anything."

Hansi Flick and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called the Bayern Munich fans who protested against Hoffenheim backer Dietmar Hopp "idiots" as the Bundesliga leaders' 6-0 win was overshadowed by incidents in the stands.

Bayern cantered to a third successive Bundesliga win to go four points clear of RB Leipzig, Philippe Coutinho scoring twice while Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Joshua Zirkzee and Leon Goretzka were also on target inside the opening 62 minutes.

Yet the game was paused with 20 minutes remaining after an offensive banner was unveiled and insulting chants where directed at Hopp, who is an unpopular figure for some in Germany due to his financing of Hoffenheim.

The match was eventually restarted, with a furious Flick having pleaded with his own supporters to stop their chants and remove the banner, and the game's closing stanzas were played in bizarre fashion as both sets of players simply passed the ball between themselves.

"The things that happened have no place here," Flick said at a news conference after the game.

"I myself grew up here in this region. I myself have known Dietmar Hopp for over 20 years.

"I'm just sorry for what happened here. For one thing, because he [Hopp] has done so much for this region. But also because each of these idiots who held up these banners has at least one in his family whom Dieter helped or who benefited from - through cancer research or generally through the things that Dietmar Hopp supports in medical research. They should just think about what they are doing."

Along with Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic, Flick was among the Bayern contingent who went over to their section of supporters at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena to try and get them to cease their protests.

There were similar chants from Borussia Dortmund's fans in their win over Freiburg, with BVB supporters recently banned from Hoffenheim matches for the next two seasons for such incidents.

After Bayern's win, club chairman Rummenigge stood on the pitch alongside Hopp along with the two teams in a show of solidarity.

"I am deeply embarrassed about these idiots," Rummenigge said in quotes published on Bayern's website.

"I have to say this: As of today, the moment has come when the whole Bundesliga, the DFB and the DFL has to join together and act against idiots like these.

"Football's ugly side reared its head here today.  I am also deeply embarrassed on behalf of Dietmar Hopp, who is a man of honour and has ensured that not just football but sport across the board in this region has been seen in a positive light.

"I have also apologised to him. However, what happened in the away end is really inexcusable. This is an ugly side of Bayern at a game that was in fact a great day for our team. There is no excuse for these actions.

"Everything was caught on camera and we will take the firmest of action against those responsible who tarnished the name of FC Bayern today."

Demonstrations against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp from Bayern Munich fans overshadowed their thumping 6-0 Bundesliga victory on Saturday.

The two sides played out time in bizarre scenes after the match was twice interrupted and the players were taken off the field.

Insulting chants and banners were directed at Hopp, an unpopular figure due to his financing of the home club, from spectators in the away end on Saturday.

The game was paused as a banner was unveiled in the final 20 minutes, with Bayern players and officials pleading with supporters to stop so the game could continue.

Play resumed for a brief period, before referee Christian Dingert directed the teams towards the dressing rooms due to the continued protests, prompting Oliver Khan and Hasan Salihamidzic to head onto the pitch and also implore with followers of the Bavarian giants.

The sides eventually returned to the field, and all 22 players convened in the centre of the pitch to see out time with a round of applause, while passing and juggling the ball between themselves and clapping along with fans.

Hopp also headed onto the pitch and shook hands with Bayern officials and the referee, who finally blew up in a strange conclusion to a one-sided match.

Leaders Bayern put Hoffenheim to the sword, adapting seamlessly to life without the injured Robert Lewandowski as 18-year-old Joshua Zirkzee scored on his first Bundesliga start.

Bayern Munich were hammering Hoffenheim 6-0 when the Bundesliga match was halted in the second half due to insulting chants and banners aimed at Dietmar Hopp.

With Bayern coasting to victory in a dominant display, referee Christian Dingert paused the match as a banner was unfurled in the away end.

Borussia Dortmund fans were previously banned from matches at Rhein-Neckar-Arena for a similar protest against Hoffenheim owner Hopp, an unpopular figure among some German football fans due to his financing of the club.

Bayern players entered the stands to implore the supporters to remove the banner, with head coach Hansi Flick racing across the pitch to join his team.

The banner was initially removed and the chanting paused, but the insults resumed and official Dingert directed the players back to the dressing rooms.

Hansi Flick says Bayern Munich must "become closer together as a team" in star striker Robert Lewandowski's absence, while Joshua Zirkzee could get his first-team chance.

Lewandowski has been a near ever-present in his six-year Bayern career, but the 31-year-old has been ruled out for four weeks after suffering a knee injury against Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Bayern have a 3-0 first-leg lead in their European tie but are engaged in a tense Bundesliga title tussle, meaning the loss of a striker who has scored 39 goals in all competitions comes as a weighty blow.

Interim head coach Flick did not hide from the significance of the setback as he addressed the media ahead of Saturday's match against Hoffenheim, also discussing Kingsley Coman's status after he hobbled off at Chelsea.

"With Kingsley, we hope that he will only be out for five days. Robert's situation is different," Flick told a news conference.

"Of course, Robert has shown what quality he has, not just in front of goal. The past few games have also shown that he is someone who fits perfectly into the team.

"He is a source of inspiration for who we are defensively, too, and therefore he is so important to us.

"It is crucial that we all become closer together as a team now and successfully use the time that he is missing."

Flick would not confirm how Bayern will line up at Hoffenheim - although Philippe Coutinho will feature - but Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and 18-year-old Zirkzee are all in his thinking for a central striking role.

The Netherlands youth international has already scored twice in the Bundesliga but has made just three fleeting substitute appearances.

"There are a lot of considerations," Flick said on Friday. "But it is always good if the opponent puzzles over something and does not get all the information.

"Serge is of course a candidate, and Thomas could also play in this position. We leave that open.

"Joshua Zirkzee is also a player who is in the squad and will therefore be included in the considerations. We need him in the squad because we are not richly blessed in that position."

Hansi Flick felt Bayern Munich received a "wake-up call" during their 4-3 win over Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday.

After recovering from an early deficit, Bayern were cruising at 4-1 up at the Allianz Arena, only for Moanes Dabour's late brace to lead to a nervous finish.

Flick said the finish was a warning for Bayern, who host RB Leipzig in a top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash on Sunday.

"You can always look at it one way or another," the Bayern coach said.

"I always look at it positively and say that today is a wake-up call. It was almost the same in the second half in Mainz.

"We weren't in the game that much anymore and shifted down a gear. I don't know if that was also the reason today.

"I don't want to diminish Hoffenheim's performance there. They did well in the second half."

Jerome Boateng and Benjamin Hubner scored own goals in the opening 12 minutes, but Robert Lewandowski's brace after a Thomas Muller strike had Bayern cruising.

Joshua Kimmich said Bayern missed a chance to send a message, instead getting a reminder they needed to perform for 90 minutes.

"The team and the coaches talked at half-time. It would have been a signal if we had won 4-1 or 5-1 today. It would have been possible today," he said.

"On the other hand, the game today also shows us that if we don't play at our limit, a game can tip quickly. We have to stay concentrated against every opponent for 90 minutes.

"That's why it's maybe quite good, especially before the Leipzig game, that we realise that it's not going to work by itself.

"We have to bring hard work to the pitch to be successful."

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