MONCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY (AFP) - Despite having 13,000 cardboard cut-outs of watching home fans, Borussia Moenchengladbach lost ground in the Bundesliga title race with a 3-1 defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday (May 23) behind closed doors.
"It looks great, doesn't make any noise, but creates a certain atmosphere," said Gladbach right-back Stefan Lainer after playing in front of the silent figures.
"It's definitely a great idea and I'm glad that so many took part."
With football fans in Germany locked out in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Gladbach fans have come up with a novel way of showing their support.
Season ticket holders can have their cardboard lookalike allocated to their regular spot at Borussia Park.
"We have 13,000 figures mounted (on card), but we have had around 20,000 orders," said Thomas Ludwig, a Gladbach supporter over-seeing the fan project.
"Our volunteers were busy here on Friday."
On the second weekend since the Bundesliga restarted, the figures were spread out around the Gladbach stadium along with banners, some of which were protesting against games behind closed doors.
Visitors Leverkusen also got in on the act with a handful of away supporters having paid €19 (S$30) to have their cut-outs appear in the away end.
However, the cut-outs couldn't inspire the hosts as rising Germany star Kai Havertz, 20, netted an early goal for Leverkusen and converted a second-half penalty.
Gladbach forward Marcus Thuram pulled a goal back for the hosts but defender Sven Bender put the result beyond doubt when a late free-kick struck his shoulder but flew into the net.
The result allowed Leverkusen to claim third place while Gladbach dropped to fourth in the table.