Ground: Fritz-Walter-Stadion (Betzenberg)
Date: 6th August 2012
Match: Kaiserslautern - Union Berlin 3-3 (2. Bundesliga)
Attendance: 31 618
The highlight on this trip was Kaiserslautern vs Union Berlin at Fritz-Walter-Stadion (Betzenberg). This match was played on Monday evening (20.15) and was my third match in the opening weekend of 2. Bundesliga. Having heard so many positives about the ground I knew I had a great evening ahead of me. Staying in Mannheim it was an hour with S-bahn to Kaiserslautern and since I already had my ticket for the match I didn´t have to pay for a train ticket. I travelled to Kaiserslautern quite early and once at Kaiserslautern Hbf another groundhopper waited for me. Andreas is from Schwäbisches Gmund and I first met him when I was in France last year. Fritz-Walter-Stadion today has a capacity of 49 000 and is situated on a hill close to the train station. We walked up the hill and actually managed to sneak inside the ground for a preview. We then went to the ticket office where Andreas bought a ticket for the same block as me.
Since I hadn´t eaten since breakfast I was by now quite hungry and we headed towards the city centre. We eventually found an open restaurant and I ordered Wienerschnitzel, my favourite German dish. When I was visiting Germany as a child I always had Wienerschnitzel, sometimes 14 days in a row! Anyway, our restaurant was full of football fans from both teams and this was indeed a good place for eating and drinking. Some fans ordered a "Beer tower" which was a new thing for me. Around 18.00 we started to walk back to Fritz-Walter-Stadion and when the gates opened at 18.15 we went in. I wanted some pictures of the empty stands and was impressed with what I was seeing. This truly is a great ground and I can recommed anyone interested in football to pay it a visit. At 18.30 I then met up with another groundhopper (and his brother). Stephan is from Neustadt and has a season-ticket in the Westkurve. He and his brother returned from a trip to Denmark and had been driving for most of the day. He gave me a mini-tour of Betzenberg and with his brothers season-ticket I could gain access to the heart of FC Kaiserslautern, the impressive Westkurve.
From the ground it was possible to take some overview pictures of the city and it was obvious the football ground is the highest point in Kaiserslautern. After more interesting discussions about football I then returned to my seat and 20 minutes before kick-off I could sit and absorb the atmosphere inside Fritz-Walter-Stadion. For Union Berlin and their fans this was a long trip (especially on a Monday) but in total around 1 000 away fans was at the match. The total attendance was "only" 32 000 but considering it was the 2nd division and a Monday night it was still a decent number. I had high expectations regarding the atmosphere and was not disappointed. Great support from the Westkurve and even if the Union fans did their best their sungs were drowned by the Westkurve. The match itself turned out to be a very dramatic one. 0-0 and quite a poor first half but the second half started well, at least for Union Berlin. 0-1 in the 47th minute, it was then 0-2 but Kaiserslautern refused to give up. Two quick goals meant 2-2. With four minutes to go Kaiserslautern scored again, 3-2 and a cracking atmosphere inside Fritz-Walter-Stadion. In stoppage time Union manged to equalise though and the match ended 3-3. A great end to my trip to Germany and not even the heavy rain (Fritz Walter wetter) after the match could change my good mood. Hopefully I will be back in Germany later this year for some Bundesliga action.
Fans mixing in the city centre
View of Kaiserslautern
Rear of the Südtribüne
Up the hill
Fans outside the ground
Fans outside the ground
View of Betzenberg
Union Berlin fans