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Sane makes debut as Bayern kick off Bundesliga season behind closed doors

Berlin (AFP) – Champions Bayern Munich kicked off the new Bundesliga season on Friday at home to Schalke behind closed doors as Germany winger Leroy Sane made his debut for the hosts.

The 24-year-old Sane made his first appearance since his July transfer from Manchester City.

Austria defender David Alaba, who is stalling over signing a contract extension with a year left on his current deal, missed out with a leg injury.

Following Thiago Alcantara’s transfer to Liverpool on Friday, his place in Bayern’s central midfield was filled by Joshua Kimmich.

The European champions were forced to keep the stands at Munich’s Allianz Arena empty because of a rising coronavirus infection rate in the Bavarian capital.

However, fans are expected at other top-flight grounds on the opening weekend of the new German league season.

On Thursday, Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter decided that Bayern fans must stay away, scuppering plans to allow 7,500 home supporters into the Allianz Arena.

“I am sad that it is not possible to play the Bundesliga opener in front of spectators,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“It remains our wish and our goal to be able to play in front of our fans again as soon as possible.” 

Germany’s politicians had given Bundesliga clubs the green light to allow the partial return of fans into stadiums, providing the rate of infection in each region remains below 35 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Bayern’s hygiene concept, to allow fans into the stadium, had been approved as late as Wednesday night.

However, the rate of infection figure for Munich was revised to 47.6 per 100,000 on Thursday, which led to Reiter’s decision.

Set numbers of fans are expected at other Bundesliga grounds this weekend. 

The largest crowd is expected in Dortmund where last season’s runners-up expect “around 10,000 fans” for Saturday evening’s match against fellow Champions League side Borussia Moenchengladbach.

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