Fan Culture / Local

The treble: Bayern, Bundesliga & Brauhaus Schmitz

A strong World Cup performance by Deutschland following a Champions League final featuring many of the same players was more than enough to key me up for a return to watching the Bundesliga. And better yet that the team I’m keen on following, Bayern München, features two top players from the semifinalist Oranje.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is that powerful controlling midfielder whose quickness and precision passing is complemented by an aptitude that has him finish many a run to the back post after dishing the ball off. He scored on such a run in the 90th minute to give Bayern the dramatic 2-1 win in week one after Wolfsburg tied the match in the 55th during a harrying 10 minutes.

Sweinsteiger’s ruggedness is matched by the calculated brutality of Dutchman Mark Van Bommel, who has a penchant for the professional, and at times nasty foul, a la Man U’s Paul Scholes. Van Bommel, in locking up the defensive end of mid, is just as likely to frustrate would be attackers as he is to fiercely go through them in way akin to Nemanja Vidic or Gennaro Gattuso of a few years ago.

Frenchman Frank Ribery will have even more choices for his deadly crosses and indirect kicks once Arjen Robben returns to the lineup; sidelined with a lingering injury, Robben’s deceptive, weightless shiftiness was a joy to watch during the World Cup, his ability to cut inside, fire in an instant, and hit the target with precision something magical.

All the better then that wunderkind Thomas Müller should be even more explosive for Bayern following a World Cup where he stepped into and made the #13 shirt his own with a golden boot winning performance; and that’s exactly how he started the season, receiving a chip in the air to knock the ball back up and fire home a volley inside the box.

The excitement of that goal on Friday the 20th, struck home in the 9th minute against a Wolfsburg team that had enough chances to earn a better result, was heightened by my surroundings. While I sat at the bar at Brauhaus Schmitz, Philly’s German beer hall, the subdued atmosphere was impinged upon by echoes of a jubilant crowd, a raucous celebration that seemed never to abate.

'700 Special' (Yards ESA and an Italian deluxe hoagie from Palm Tree Market). You're now on notice.

The cries of yellow clad Dortmund fans on the following Sunday for their team to “Weitermacht, weitermacht,” (“Continue, continue”), even with their concern — Dortmond was down 2-nil — recalled the giddy passion of Supa Deutschland, a chant whose slightly altered words Union fans should adopt according to Chef Jeremy Nolan, given that we already employ the tune at river’s end.

And then there’s the sandwich that gives half of the previously mentioned “700 special” — a brilliant Italian deluxe hoagie from the nearby Palm Tree market — a run for best game time nahrung. If a cookie can bring back one’s childhood, then the döner kebab can send one past mere echoes to make the world’s greatest sporting event an everyday occurrence.

Yes, that’s right, as with the 700, it is actually possibly to receive a “thank you for drinking before noon” discount at a soccer bar.

Dr. Who had his TARDIS. You can have a döner kebab.

As I dove into the marinated lamb and beef mix doused with garlic mayo and a crisp chili based tomato hot sauce in congregation with radishes, pickles, and watercress inside a homemade flatbread, each bite brings back the maddening course of the opening round’s three-a-days, the white knuckle intensity of the knockouts where the team scarves decorating the wall next to the gleaming Germany Purity Law dwindled more and more with each passing match day. Your taste buds buzz and you’re off. Flags dance. Au pairs with painted faces beam effusively. Cowbells sing. I hold the conch to my ear and I hear the packed Brauhaus’ din.

All the better that the sandwich introduced back in June — now available every Sat and Sunday during the season — can be paired with equally delicious Franziskaner and Warsteiner specials ($4) during all Bundesliga matches (as well as all early or non-weekend Union games). Yes, that’s right, as with the 700, it is actually possibly to receive a thank you for drinking before noon discount at a soccer bar.

…as the result instantly became perhaps the most stunning in world club football this term.

And with emphasis, that’s exactly the stamp that Brauhaus is wearing these days. Like The 700, they had the aforementioned great turnouts from June 11th through July 11th and are now settling into the cast of die-hard regulars that come out to watch and study the game with frequency. The difference, of course, is that it’s also a magnet for ex-pats and anyone who followed a team while living in or visiting Deutschland, since it has taken up Ludwig’s mantel of being the only place in town to hang your umlaut.

As with the opening match a week ago, this past Friday’s Bayern match brought stunning excitement, albeit for quite different reasons. Their opponent, the recently promoted Kaiserslautern, seemed certain to suffer a nearly eponymous fate. But what happened however, left several eager to jibe the Bavarian born second shift bartender as the result instantly became perhaps the most stunning in World club football this term.

…again, meine Bayerin Deutsche freundin, Union fans feel your pain.

On two separate plays two minutes apart in the first half where they perhaps made the Union feel a little better after Sunday, Bayern, who came within an Inter Milan of securing the treble, spotted the upstart underdogs two devastating goals. On the first, Ilo Ilicevic, running parallel to the top of the box, got to the ball ahead of a defender to strike a wonder shot whose arc beautifully cut across the keeper before sailing the ball into the upper right corner as it dropped. The second goal, eerily reminiscent of Allsopp’s uncontested 2nd for D.C. United this past weekend, featured an Ilicevic cross pass that a surging forward Srdjan Lakic smacked home with alacrity. While Bayern botched chances in the first, they were fortunate to head to the room only down 2-nil.

All the more stunning was how Kaiserslautern maintained their lead in the second, with a befuddled and frustrated Bayern continuing to come ever so close. Again, meine Bayerin Deutsche freundin, Union fans feel your pain.  The other standouts that draw one to watch Bayern were accounted for in this regard. Miroslav Klose, who recently entrenched himself further amidst World Cup lore, made fans incredulous on either side of a confounding decision to attempt to thread the ball through to a charging teammate at the goalmouth when he had the angle to slot home. On Klose’s third such  attempt in a short span, Philippe Lahm, rushing up the right from the defense around the 55th, sent a delicious cross into the area only for him to strike well high.

…the Union should take note of what can happen when sheer mettle emerges to spill over into every pass, while informing the team’s composure in defense and transition.

Toni Kroos, on for 3-goal Champions League semi-final man Ivica Ozil in the 63rd, had his turn to come gloriously shy of goal.  Like Müller, Kroos made the Germany team while proven senior squad members like Törsten Frings were left home. He showed his great promise again when receiving a ball nodded back from the touchline; he viciously took to the volley, surely leaving some sting in the fingertips and face of Tobias Sippel who dove to make the massive save. Equally impressive from the bench for Bayern was Danijel Pranjic, who linked up with Kroos close-in via beautiful crossing. The result, however, was more of the same, with the keeper’s reflexes stunning us all.

The depth of talent on Bayern only served to reinforce the awe directed towards what Kaiserslautern was doing to them. As much as their keeper bailed them out at times, it was hardly a ‘weather the storm’ second half, as the underdogs played with an unwavering fortitude, surging ahead to bring delectable chances into being each time they confounded Bayern in their end.

To bring our team into it again, the Union should take note of what can happen when sheer mettle emerges to spill over into every pass, while informing the team’s composure in defense and transition. Rather than Ribery, it was a heretofore unheralded Kaiserslautern player who continuously tore up the right wing in the second half while the world took notice.

Two stunning, albeit disparate results from a team and league to watch. And even if there were other places devoted to Bundesliga, I couldn’t imagine a better perch.

If you want to check out Brauhaus Schmitz, here are the basics:

Brauhaus Schmitz

718 South St.

Philadelphia, PA 19147

(267)909-8814

3 Comments

  1. Marcus Biggington says:

    This article articulates the need for us to appreciate the mastery of the german leauges and how we should, as Americans, appreciate soccer to the fullest extent

  2. Yay, the doner kebap is back!

    ohh yeah, and bundesliga too….

  3. Genuinely no matter if someone doesn’t know after that its up to
    other visitors that they will assist, so here it occurs.

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