No fans, no problem: Thousands of cardboard cutouts 'watch' German soccer match (photos)

Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach placed pictures of fans in seats before Saturday's match against Bayern Leverkusen. (Christian Verheyen/Getty Images)

German soccer team Borussia Mönchengladbach found a creative way to make its stadium feel a little more like normal for Saturday’s match against Bayer Leverkusen.

With supporters forbidden because of the coronavirus, the club placed more than 12,000 cardboard cutouts of fans in seats at the 54,000-capacity Borussia-Park ahead of its first home game since the Bundesliga returned last week following a two-month hiatus.

The “crowd” included likenesses of real Gladbach season ticket holders, who paid 19 euros (about $20) each to have a life-size picture of their torso installed in Germany’s fifth-largest venue. Other cutouts feature legendary players from the club’s past, including its 1970s heyday during which Gladbach won its five Bundesliga titles.

The visitors from Leverkusen were also represented in the stands on Saturday. In total, more than 20,000 cardboard cutouts have been ordered so far.

“The cardboard cutouts are a monument — they’re supposed to show that football without fans just isn’t the same,” Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl said. “It’s a great campaign which provides a lot of atmosphere in the stadium.”

In the end, it didn’t help the hosts. After erasing a first-half deficit thanks to striker Marcus Thuram, Gladbach conceded two more goals over the final 35 minutes and lost 3-1.

Here are more photos from Saturday at Borussa-Park (all images via Getty):