Just hours after the German state of Bavaria announced new restrictions to curb sky-rocketing coronavirus infections, Bayern Munich slipped to a 2-1 defeat away at neighbors Augsburg in front of a capacity crowd.
First-half goals from Mads Pedersen and Andre Hahn put Augsburg 2-0 up before Robert Lewandowski halved the deficit before half-time.
Head coach Julian Nagelsmann brought on Alphonso Davies, Jamal Musiala and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the second half in an attempt to add new impetus to Bayern’s attacking play, but the German champions couldn’t find a way through the freezing fog.
Augsburg goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz pulled off important late saves from Lewandowski and Musiala as the home side, who began the evening third bottom of the Bundesliga, held on for their first win over Bayern since May 2015 – and only their fourth ever.
Borussia Dortmund will have the chance to close the gap on league leaders Bayern to a single point if they beat VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. But German football currently has more pressing concerns than the Bundesliga table, as the country wrestles with a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
Quarantine: Joshua Kimmich was absent again
Bayern made the short trip west of Munich to Augsburg on Friday night without Joshua Kimmich after the unvaccinated German midfielder was forced to isolate for the second time this month after coming into contact with an infected person in his private circles.
Kimmich had already missed Germany’s World Cup qualifiers against Lichtenstein and Armenia earlier this month after Bayern teammate Niklas Süle tested positive for COVID-19, and will also miss Bayern’s Champions League away game against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine on Tuesday.
Defender Süle was still absent in Augsburg as he continues his recovery, as was Josip Stanisic. The 21-year-old defender is double-vaccinated but tested positive upon his return from international duty with Croatia. Two Bayern staff members also have COVID.
Bayern’s opponents Augsburg were also affected, with Swiss striker Ruben Vargas testing positive. Vargas and the entire Augsburg squad are fully vaccinated.
“Given the current infection rates, it’s not unlikely that you’re going to come into contact with someone who has corona,” said Bayern head coach Nagelsmann ahead of the game. “We don’t live in Alaska, where you might come across a moose every 750 kilometers and a person every 1,400 kilometers; we’re a civilization.”
According to Kicker magazine, Bayern officials want to sit down with Kimmich and other unvaccinated players again to discuss the situation and the potential consequences. Ahead of kick-off against Augsburg, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic reiterated his and the club’s stance that “vaccination is the quickest way out of the pandemic.”
Concerned: Bavarian state premier Markus Söder has announced new restrictions
The game took place in front of a full-capacity crowd at the WWK Arena in Augsburg, likely for the last time this year after the Bavarian state government announced earlier in the day that football stadiums and other cultural arenas will be limited to 25% capacity until December 15 at the earliest, starting on Tuesday night.
In addition, the so-called “2G plus” concept will come into operation, obliging even vaccinated and recovered fans to provide a negative test in order to attend games.
Bavaria had a weekly incidence rate of 625.3 recorded infections per 100,000 people on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute infectious disease center, well above the nationwide figure of 340.7 — an all-time high for Germany.
In the city of Augsburg, it’s 648.3. In the city of Munich, 754. In eight Bavarian districts, particularly along the Austrian border, incidence rates are exceeding 1,000. At the same time, Bavaria has the fifth lowest vaccination rate of Germany’s 16 federal states.
“The situation is very, very serious and difficult,” said Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, adding: “We have a clear goal: fighting corona, protecting people and protecting the health care system.”
To the north of Bavaria, in the eastern state of Saxony, local authorities also announced measures to curb soaring infection rates, including a ban on large events such as football matches from Monday, November 22.
Bundesliga side RB Leipzig and Bundesliga 2 clubs Dynamo Dresden and Erzgebirge Aue will continue playing games, but behind closed doors. In addition to league games against Bayer Leverkusen (28.11) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (11.12), RB Leipzig’s Champions League tie against Manchester City (7.12) will also take place in an empty stadium.
The Leipzig derby between traditional sides Lokomotive Leipzig and Chemie Leipzig in the fourth division is still set to go ahead on Sunday in front of around 6,000 fans, despite seven-day incidence rates in the region averaging almost 600 per 100,000 and the lowest vaccination rate in the country (58%).