Bundesliga Returns

19th May 2020

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The German Bundesliga became the first major European football league to restart after Coronavirus has devastated the world and ultimately affected sports. It has been seen by some as a brave decision and by others as a foolhardy one. The question of whether football is really important at this time has been side stepped in Germany, let's just get the league back on has been the message.

While the return of football was unique, at the same time seeing no fans in the stadiums and just 200 staff seemed eerie. The substitutes on the bench had to wear masks and leave gaps in seating, it felt like we were bearing witness to some dystopian movie, expect the chilling fact was that this was very real. Although despite the precautions, it didn't stop the players lapsing from time to time and hugging their teammates when a goal was scored.

The lack of fans did take away the atmosphere but what it didn't influence was the final scores. Most of the best teams, as expected, won their games, with 4 of the top 5 sides all recording victories. On the Saturday Borussia Dortmund swept aside Schalke 4-0 which included a goal by Erling Haaland, the youngster was being tipped to be the next world class talent coming through before the virus halted play. On Sunday league leaders Bayern Munich beat Union Berlin in 12th place 2-0 to keep a 4 point lead at the top of the standings. Only RB Leipzig failed to get 3 points, unable to make their dominance count in a 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.

At the other end of the table bottom club Padernborn ended a 4 game losing streak to draw to draw 0-0 away to Dusseldorf. However, in fairness results really seemed to take a back seat at the weekend and it was just the nostalgia of having football back that was the overriding success point. What amazed most was that the fans of each club mostly followed the rules too and kept away from congregating outside stadiums, that could be less likely in England. Can we really expect to see empty streets in Liverpool when they eventually win the league title? Or in Italy, the streets of Rome will be filled to the rafters surely if Lazio could win a surprise league title.

One could look at the weekend as if it was an experiment and of course The Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A will be keeping a watchful eye on what happens in Germany not just over this weekend but in the following three to four weeks when it is expected that the respective leagues will return. The key difference in any decision is that Germany has had amongst the least deaths from Covid-19, Spain and Italy have had as much four times as many, and England as much as five and all are continuing to rise.

For now the Premier League has voted to return to training in stage one of project restart. The continuation of football in England is most probably another month away. Unlike Germany though there could well be a few more ifs and buts before a ball is kicked in hope or anger.

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