Ground: ESPRIT arena
Date: 28th September 2012
Match: Fortuna Düsseldorf - Schalke 04 2-2 (Bundesliga)
Attendance: 54 000
I was in Germany in early August and after only two weeks back at work I realised I missed the buzz of international football. The last weekend of September meant a Friday evening (20.30) kick-off in Düsseldorf and then a 13.30 kick-off in Bochum on Sunday afternoon. With plenty of matches to choose from on Saturday I had the chance to visit three matches in as many days. There are plenty of flights from Copenhagen to Düsseldorf (and back!) but I was not sure whether I would be able to get a ticket for Düsseldorf vs Schalke or not. Fortuna Düsseldorf have not been in the Bundesliga for 15 years and their first two matches this season, due to crowd trouble at their last match last season, had been with a reduced capacity at ESPRIT arena. I asked my German friend Maik for advice before booking the trip. He assured me he would be able to help and a month ago I booked this trip.
My flight left Copenhagen at 16.55 and 18.15 I could leave the aircraft at Düsseldorf Flughafen. I then rushed through the airport in order to find the taxi rank. ESPRIT arena was opened in 2005 and has a capcity of 54 000. The big advantage on this trip was the fact ESPRIT arena is a 10-minute drive from the airport. There is a (Tulip Inn) hotel situated inside the arena and 18.42 I was standing in the reception. The taxi driver charged me 15 Euros but considering how smoothly everything worked this evening I had no complaints. After checking in at the hotel I walked around the area taking some exterior pictures of the stadium. In the clear sky and the sun about to set I was a bit lucky with these pictures. What about the ticket then? Did Maik help me? Of course he did! He contacted his friend Christian, a Düsseldorf season ticket holder, who bought me a ticket. At 19.40 we met up outside the hotel entrance. My seat was in the upper tier of the ESPRIT(West)-Tribüne. Christian escorted me to my block and I thanked him for the help. He and his wife have their season tickets in the Südtribüne. As kick-off approached the ground filled up and with more than 5 000 Schalke fans, as well as 49 000 Fortuna fans of course, I knew I was in for a great evening.
Düsseldorf have started their Bundesliga return with five clean sheets but after 20 minutes this evening it was 2-0 to the visitors. Schalke played very well and controlled the match perfectly. In th last minutes of the first half the atmosphere was actually a bit poor. That was about to change though. Düsseldorf pulled a goal back early in the second half and pressed on for the equaliser. In the 77th minute Düsseldorf made it 2-2 and the atmosphere was by now second to none. I spent the last 15 minutes more or less standing up as the excited home supporters cheered their team on. The match finished 2-2 though and as made the very short walk back to the hotel I was really pleased having attended this match. Once again a big thanks to Christian (and Maik) for getting me my ticket!
Close to the airport.....
Fortuna fans enjoying the nice evening
The official away section
View of ESPRIT arena
After the match
Breakfast the following morning