Milestone beckons for Allianz Arena
Sunday's Bundesliga encounter between FC Bayern and Hoffenheim represents a landmark for the Allianz Arena: a football match will be staged at the most beautiful stadium in the world for the 500th time since its inauguration back in May 2005. It all began with a friendly between FC Bayern and their local rivals 1860 Munich, a 3-2 reverse from an FCB point of view.
The official ceremonial match between the record champions and the Germany national team followed on 31 May 2005. Sebastian Deisler scored the first goal for the Bavarians on their new home field. Munich under coach at the time Felix Magath won 4-2: Willy Sagnol, Hasan Salihamidzic, and Robert Huth with an own-goal also netted for FCB.
Many noteworthy matches have since been played at the Allianz Arena: the opening match of the 2006 World Cup and the 2012 Champions League final were special highlights in recent German football history. In addition, the German record champions laid on numerous gala performances in Europe's premier club competition, in the Bundesliga and in the DFB Cup. On 7 March 2007 the stadium provided the setting for Roy Makaay to score the fastest-ever Champions League goal, just ten seconds into a contest against Real Madrid
FCB also had to accept some bitter defeats at what is probably the most modern arena in Europe: the agonising penalty shootout drama against Chelsea in the Finale dahoam in 2012, the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in 2014, last season's DFB Cup semi-final against Borussia Dortmund or the dramatic 3-2 defeat to Inter Milan in the CL Round of 16 in 2011, to name only a few.
With a capacity of 75,000 for Bundesliga fixtures and around four million visitors per year, the Allianz Arena is the most-visited attraction in the Free State of Bavaria. The arena pulls in far more customers than Schloss Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle with "only" 1.4 million annual visitors. On Sunday the Reds aim to mark the milestone with a victory over crisis club Hoffenheim. Let's get go FCB: Pack ma's!