MUNICH – A group of Bayern Munich fans on the south stand that accommodates 9 136 standing supporters created a beautiful optical illusion that made Allianz Arena look like it was shaking and moving sideways with their synchronised moves.
Those fans waved a number of giant flags, including the one of the LGBT community with the colours of the rainbow.
If you stared at them doing their thing long enough, you would be dizzy.
Perhaps Eintracht Frankfurt stared at them too much in the first half when they were attacking the goals in front of that passionate crowd, as they looked flat and dumbfounded in the second half of their Bundesliga clash on Saturday.
Bayern made them pay, scoring three goals in the second half to thump Frankfurt 4-1 with a relative B-side, with their star players rested for the trip to Spain in the second leg of the Uefa Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
It looked too easy for Bayern, who weren’t at full strength and played at pedestrian pace, yet they still did enough to beat the team they will face in the German Cup final on May 19.
The sea of red that filled this stadium didn’t even celebrate that much as this is an all too familiar sight for them, and they have already won the Bundesliga for a record 28th time.
But before the match started, the home crowd created an electrifying atmosphere.
A sight and a half. pic.twitter.com/kyrIpBJnUI
A boy was asked to announce Bayern’s starting XI – only saying their first names, with the 75 000-strong crowd saying the surname.
For players like Thiago and Rafinha who have one name, the crowd did all the work, and announced them when their pictures popped up on the big screens, which are the biggest in a European stadium.
This arena glistened on the outside, even though it was without the beautiful colours that come out at night that have made it an iconic sight.
At night, the arena illuminates Munich and can probably be seen from space. That’s how Bayern are also like in the Bundesliga – shining brighter than any team, with their brand reaching the length and breadth of the world.
Bucket List Item No. 87. Watch a match at the Allianz Arena. Check! pic.twitter.com/7X1TVFRwkZ
That dominance comes with a fair share of enemies, like their cross-town rivals 1860 Munich, who now plays in the fourth tier of German football.
Their fans wrote “Red Bastards” in graffiti on the bridge that leads to the Allianz Arena.
“They come here every time when we play to scream obscenities at us. We don’t pay much attention to them.
“That’s what happens when you have too much time and are bored. We are too busy winning to pay attention to them,” a tour guide at the Bayern museum quipped.
The fan store is a bit packed. Just a bit. pic.twitter.com/uuEf3heADj
I wonder what they would have called Bayern had they not changed their colours from blue and white, the colours of Bavaria, to red and white.
Bayern did that at the request of Muncher Sportclub in 1905 as a condition to join MSC. 1860 Munich play in blue and white in the lower leagues.
Now Red and White are synonymous with the Bavarian giants – Bayern.
Those colours took over the club’s fan store that was cramped with thousands of eager fans wanting to buying merchandise before the game on Saturday.
What Bayern does well is to make their match-days an experience and sell their brand well. Even the serviettes in the media area have their famous logo.
The football is just a dessert, when you look at how this club sells the experience of coming to the Allianz Arena.
Visiting this iconic venue is the appetiser, and the museum tour they offer is the main course – very filling, in fact, when you go through Bayern’s glorious history, including being the first team to win what is now the Uefa Champions League three times in a row from 1974-1976.
Some of the sights from the Bayern Munich museum. The story of how they went from blue and white (the Bavarian colours) to red and white is interesting. pic.twitter.com/tpa3153C9G
The original trophy with the “Big Ears” sits on the 1976 stand as a reward for winning it three times in a row.
The two others are replicas, and they are 10% smaller than the original, as per the rules.
The last time this trophy graced the Allianz Arena was in 2013.
It will take a herculean effort to bring it back to Munich this season as they have to beat Madrid by two or more goals in their own backyard.
The four goals they scored against Frankfurt will give them confidence, though.
If that doesn’t work, the movie they show at the museum will motivate them, the theme of which is how disappointment brings out the best of Bayern.
* Njabulo Ngidi is in Germany courtesy of StarSat.