Borussia Monchengladbach to be greeted by 13,000 cardboard cut-out fans at next Bundesliga match
Gladbach season ticket holders to have their cardboard lookalike allocated to their regular spot in the stands
Nearly 13,000 cardboard cut-outs of Borussia Monchengladbach supporters are set to welcome the team for Saturday's Bundesliga match against Bayer Leverkusen behind closed doors.
Gladbach hosted the first Bundesliga game played without fans on March 11, shortly before the German season was put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the club's supporters' groups, "Fanprojekt Moenchengladbach", subsequently came up with the idea of allowing fans to print life-sized images of themselves to be placed inside the ground.
The cut-outs line the stadium's otherwise empty stands, with season ticket holders able to have their cardboard lookalike allocated to their regular spot.
"It's a nice operation, which creates an atmosphere in the stadium," said Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl. "Even if at the same time it's a reminder that football without supporters is not the same."
"It's fantastic. We really have the impression that we're not alone when we're training in the stadium," added Gladbach manager Marco Rose.
Gladbach are third in the table and six points behind leaders Bayern Munich. They won 3-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend as the Bundesliga returned following a two-month interruption.
Borussia Dortmund will try to keep pace with leaders Bayern Munich away to Wolfsburg ahead of Tuesday's crucial top-two showdown at Westfalenstadion, although they could be without captain Marco Reus for the remaining eight games of the season due to a thigh injury.
Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel will also not be fit in time for Saturday's match but Emre Can and teenager Giovanni Reyna have returned to training following injuries and are available.
Witsel will definitely not be there," manager Lucien Favre said in a virtual news conference on Friday. "Can started yesterday with light training with the team and will train today as well.
"Reus has not started training with the team but we still hope that he can come back as soon as possible and help until the end of the season
Bayern, four points clear at the top, host Eintracht Frankfurt, who won 5-1 in the reverse fixture – inflicting the heaviest league defeat on Bayern since 2009 and putting an end to Niko Kovac's turbulent spell in charge.
Champions League quarter-finalists RB Leipzig go to Mainz on Sunday, having have fallen behind in the title chase after three successive draws. Julian Nagelsmann's side set a club record with an 8-0 win when the teams met in November.
Updated: May 22, 2020 01:50 PM