In just over a week’s time the Premier League is back in its new guise, behind closed doors and every game televised live. So, what can we expect from the beautiful game as it makes its return?
If you have taken in any of the Bundesliga games over the last few weeks as I have then you’ll see some things will be to your liking and some things not so. Let’s start with the football itself.
The first week was extremely poor, but possibly expected. Players might have had three weeks of training, but after weeks of their own club planned regimes it’s taken a while for the rustiness to disappear and play to become more fluid, just as you would expect playing Saturday Tuesday Saturday since it’s return.
There certainly will be a few unexpected results coming through as players get to grips with fitness, touch and a lack of atmosphere around them but these will improve very quickly and underneath Liverpool a lot of clubs still have plenty to play for over the next nine games.
The early games witnessed a bump of fists or the tapping together of arms when celebrating a goal, three weeks or so later and the hugs and hand touching are becoming more evident, considering full contact is allowed and with some very meaty tackles in evidence the slight ramp up in celebrating is hardly surprising.
The easiest thing to notice of course is the behind closed doors situation. Never will this be ideal for football at any level, but for now it is the ‘new normal’ until it is safe to play in front of supporters, that time will come. Crowd noises are now being pumped into and around the stadium in the German game, it’s still to be decided if the Premier League will follow suit.
Masks are commonly worn by substitutes and the fourth official and the odd person seen around the stadium, not so common for managers or coaches to do so although some have them strapped to their arm.
VAR is still there but differently to England the referees make more use of the camera in the stadium, hopefully this time of change will see that happen in our top division as it really should be.
Five substitutes allowed during the ninety-minute period can be more crucial now than it ever has been. More options to tinker if the starting line up isn’t quite right or if tiredness becomes a factor in the early weeks which is likely, those choices now to sit on the bench can be just as important as the named starting eleven.
And to television. All ninety-two games will appear on a platform to watch with SKY, the BBC and Amazon Prime showing free-to-air matches potentially growing new audiences for the game with back to back football over the course of nine hours or more on some days. Coupled with La Liga, Serie A and the conclusion to the Bundesliga season then football fans are in for a summer treat of wall to wall games until a full season begins once again.
How that will look at any level of the game is something that will continue to change on a daily and weekly basis, but at some stage we will return to sellout stadiums, the smell of burgers, pies and hot dogs, the atmosphere and seeing like minded friends, this is just the beginning.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37