After its two-month hiatus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, football made its resumption last month when the top-flight of German football, the Bundesliga, made its comeback.
The first of Europe’s elite leagues to restart its season left fans with optimism for the future and for the other major divisions on the continent to follow suit.
It was a welcome return for those that pore over the latest odds on the German Bundesliga 2019/2020, but also a chance for fans to relish some live action on TV. But with the campaign back underway, what have we learnt so far?
To celebrate a goal or not?
With football being a team game and emotions running high when a goal is scored, there’s something not right about players celebrating goals while conforming to social distancing measures. Some teams adhered to these rules, with players touching elbows or fist-bumping to congratulate each other, while others continued to embrace, like usual.
Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Håland conformed to the rules when he netted the first goal of the Bundesliga’s resumption, and took his celebration to the corner-flag in front of – what would normally be – the ‘yellow wall’, where he was seen dancing on his own.
Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin beat Hoffenheim 3-0 and were seen celebrating as usual, with hugs and defender Dedryck Boyata was even accused of kissing one of his teammates, although it later transpired, he was whispering tactics regarding a set-piece.
The German Football League (DFL) have said they will take no action as it’s a guideline, as opposed to a rule, so it’ll be interesting to see how future celebrations pan out.
There’s no such thing as home advantage
They say football without fans is nothing, and that is certainly true to some extent. With matches being played behind closed doors, it’s strange to see so many of the larger stadiums in particular, so empty and quiet – with an eerie atmosphere circulating and every sound picked up.
But without the raucous support from passionate home fans willing their team on, home advantage has gone out of the window. It certainly makes it difficult to know who to punt for, when it comes to Bundesliga predictions and betting tips. In fact, during the Bundesliga’s first weekend back, just one team won at home – with Dortmund thumping rivals Schalke 4-0 in the Revierderby. At the end of the game, the Dortmund players were seen applauding the usually intimidating ‘yellow wall’, which was, of course, empty.
There were a number of shocks, with RB Leipzig going a goal down at home to Freiburg, before snatching a point in the final 15 minutes. Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin pulled away from the relegation zone with their shock win away to Hoffenheim.
Socially-distant substitutes and virtual press conferences
We certainly got a glimpse of how the future of the sport post-pandemic would look, and if other top leagues in Europe resumed play, what we could expect. All substitutes and coaching staff wore masks, with head coaches the only members of staff exempt from this rule, so that they could continue to shout at their players.
Of course, players were spaced out on the substitutes’ bench, with some even going into the stands to keep their distance before warming up. It was at this point that the substitutes would be permitted to remove their masks and when they entered the field of play, their replacements were handed a clean mask, before taking their place on the bench.
With virtual press conferences post-match, the media are reliant on technology, which doesn’t always go to plan, feeling that pain so many companies have faced since changing the environment from office to home – slow connections, microphones not working and the like. It’s a strange situation to be in, and one that doesn’t come without challenges.
It’s how the Bundesliga, and other leagues that eventually resume, react to that which will reveal whether or not it was a good idea to restart the season during this time.
It’s fair to say that football has a very different feel at the moment, but there’s no denying that it’s good to have it back!