Trip of a Lifetime I: Paris Saint-Germain
As it turned out however, that wasn’t the end of the story for us. Through some sort of black magic (or a lot of hard work and communication with Bayern), the president of our fan club Michael Fähnle-Hedge, organized what is unquestionably the trip of a lifetime for the members who were able to attend.
Late last fall, those of us in the DC Bayern Capital 11 fan club recieved a message that most of us never dreamed of. In it, the president asked who would be interested and able to attend the return leg of the round of 16 Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain on March 8, 2023 and the Bundesliga match against Augsburg on March 11.
This is maybe the biggest no brainer question I’ve ever been asked in my life. Unfortunately for me, it also came at a time when I thought that work commitments could be an issue. Luckily for me, I was ultimately able to make it work and I’m extremely grateful that I did.
Naturally quite a few of the members felt the same way, as around sixty total people from the club ultimately ended up signing up to make the trip to Munich.
The itinerary would end up being far more packed than any of us saved for possibly Bayern and the president had any idea at that point. In short, we were all in for a special trip.
Champions League Night
With such a big group, we arrived in Munich at different times with the largest contingent getting in Tuesday morning. Some had made a bigger holiday of it and were coming from other cities accross Europe. Others like myself were flying directly in.
Tuesday was a day to rest up a bit and meet for a few beers prior to the big night we had all been waiting on for months.
On Wednesday, we had arranged to meet up for some drinks prior to the match and a bus to take the group to the Allianz since the coordination of sixty-ish people would be quite challenging on the underground.
A few representatives of Bayern met us at our bus when we exited and helped us in any way that we might need to get in and around the stadium. A few interviews and photo ops were completed and then we headed to our seats.
FC Bayern vs PSG
For those of you have not had the chance to attend a Champions League match at the Allianz Arena, I can only hope that you get the opportunity some day. The atmosphere is unparalled.
For most of the matches I’ve atteneded in the past, the stadium has felt engaged but a little reserved. The Südkurve is far and away the most vocal and enthusiastic members of the crowd with the occasional support and joining in of the remainder.
For this match, it felt like the entire stadium was the Südkurve. They were the conducter, we were the orchestra. They would start the songs, we would sing along. The entire stadium singing, clapping, cheering all in unison.
Being a part of an atmosphere like that is increadible. There are only a few other moments in my life that compare in any way and what comes across on screen doesn’t even begin to compare to what it’s actually like in person.
Everyone talks about a how special and different a Champions League night is. I now have an appreciation for this. I hope maybe it won’t be the last time I get to experience it, but even if it was, I’m extremely grateful that I was able to once.
The match itself was a rollercoaster as I’m sure everyone will agree at this point. PSG came out looking for that early goal but Bayern held firm until it appeared that Yann Sommer had gifted the visiters a goal only for Matthijs de Ligt to save the ball off the line.
I had a fantastic view of this moment and am still in awe of the timing and effort from the defender to save not only a goal but potentially their season. It’s the kind of moment that you know is big, even as it’s happening.
The second half seemed to belong to Bayern. After that near miss, PSG seemed to deflate and Bayern took the match by the horns. Choupo’s goal felt like all that was needed and Gnabry’s turned things into a massive party!
Putting in a big performance and keeping two clean sheets against PSG with the quality they have and the likes of Messi and Mbappé is incredible and to see it in person is something I’ll never forget.
The bus ride home was a giant party. Despite the late hour and copius amounts of alcohol consumed over the day, we were all too amped up to do anything but sing on the bus ride home…probably much to the displeasure of our driver who was forced to hear a group of tone deaf intoxicated supporters repetitively singing the same five songs for well over an hour. The man deserves to be canonised for his patience and tolerance.
It was a special night for Bayern, for all the supporters and especially for the sixty-ish travelers from Washington D.C. who were beyond grateful to have experienced it live.
That however was just the begining of the journey. Come back tomorrow for Part II of this series where the visitors from Washington went on a day of facility tours and a special surprise at night.