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Legendary stadium

Bayern Legends looking forward to Anfield

From Barcelona, Madrid and Milan to Manchester and London, and more recently Paris, Glasgow and Istanbul. There’s hardly a famous football stadium in Europe that FC Bayern haven’t visited in recent years, but one that has eluded them is Anfield, the legendary home of Liverpool. Although the FCB first team may not get the chance, the Bayern Legends will be making up for that in their game against Liverpool Legends on Saturday (kick-off 16:00 CET, live on FC Bayern.tv).

“I’m hugely looking forward to playing at Anfield,” said Roy Makaay ahead of this Saturday’s charity match. “It’s the first time for me,” added the Dutchman, who made 75 European Cup appearances during his career. Zé Roberto, who only hung up his boots a few months ago at the age of 43, can hardly wait to run out at Anfield either. “It’s something special to play there,” said the Brazilian, who was part of the Bayer Leverkusen side that lost 1-0 there in 2002.

The stadium was built before LFC, who celebrated their 125th anniversary last year, even existed. In September 1884, the sports fields between Anfield Road and Walton Breck Road were opened and initially served as the home ground for local rivals Everton. In 1892, though, the Toffees moved to neighbouring Goodison Park. Liverpool FC were founded soon after and Anfield has been their home ever since.

The stadium lies in the centre of a residential area in the Liverpool district of the same name. The most recent of several renovations and construction projects was completed in 2015. Four stands – the Main Stand, Anfield Road Stand, Kenny Dalglish Stand and the Kop, probably the most famous football stand in the world – offer space for 54,074 spectators, making it the sixth-biggest stadium in England.

This also makes Anfield one of the most atmospheric arenas in the world. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, possibly the most well-known football song, has been played before every game since the 60s. It’s a spine-tingling moment for every fan but also every player who has experienced it. Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry once said: “I’ve played in many stadiums around the world but nothing can compare to Liverpool.”

Even the walk from the dressing rooms is special, with opposing players coming into close contact through a narrow tunnel. In the 60s, legendary manager Bill Shankly left a sign with the Liverpool badge and the inscription ‘This is Anfield’ in the tunnel. It’s supposed to be a message to the opposition: this is Anfield, you’re not getting anything here. Many Liverpool players touch the sign as they walk out to bring them luck.

For German teams, away matches at Anfield have not been fruitful. From 17 attempts, 14 defeats and three draws is their measly record. Incidentally, Bayern have played at Anfield three times in the past. They lost 3-0 in the quarter-final first leg of the Fairs Cup in 1971 before drawing 0-0 in the last 16 first leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup in the same year and then ten years later in the European Cup semi-finals. Perhaps the Bayern Legends can do better on Saturday.

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