What have we learnt from the return of football?

Dan Horton looks at some of the things we've learned from football's long-awaited return after the Covid-19 outbreak put the game on pause.

Daniel Horton

Unless you have always been an avid fan of the Belarusian Premier League, football around Europe is officially back.

The sport that so many of us love has returned in many major European countries, whilst the Bundesliga has been active for the past few weeks and, let’s face it, we all now have our favourite German team don’t we? (Mine is Borussia Monchengladbach, in case you were wondering – which you almost certainly weren’t).

Soon, it will be the turn of the Premier League to grace our screens once again and, unfortunately, it will only be available to watch on our screens.

With games being played behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic, fans will have to settle for second or third best as they enjoy the games from the comfort of their own homes.

So what are our footballing findings from its return on the continent?

Football without fans isn’t quite the same


I don’t know what it is. It’s the same game, with the same players on the pitch battling it out for victory and yet, the quality almost seems worse without the fans in attendance.

I’m not sure whether the players see the games as more of a training game or whether the adrenaline rush is slightly decreased for the players but there is definitely something missing from the games.

However, recently there has been a development on this front, with inspiration being taken from South Korea’s K League…

Dubbed crowd noise is an acceptable alternative, for now

Having watched the weekend’s Bundesliga fixtures and seemingly as much football as I’ve been able to stomach over the past few days, the artificial crowd noise has been a welcomed addition, when compared to the relative silence of the empty stadia.

Incidentally, it has appeared to improve the standard of football on offer too, despite the fact that the crowd noise is only for the viewers at home and not pumped out of the speakers at the grounds.

For the casual footballing viewer, the sounds give cues for when to pay close attention to the action. For the avid football fan, the use of crowd noise will at least bring back an element of atmosphere to an atmosphere-less stadium.

And it appears as though the use of artificial crowd sounds is set to be used when the Premier League resumes, with Sky and BT Sport giving viewers the option to watch the games with or without it.

Home advantage has been hugely reduced


Of the 55 games that have been played in the Bundesliga, since its restart on 16th May, there have only been 11 home wins.

This is a 20% win percentage for home teams. In contrast, we have seen 28 away wins – a 50.91% win percentage for away teams.

This is a massive decrease in home wins when compared to the Bundesliga, pre-lockdown.

This will be a cause for concern for the teams down at the bottom, who would have been hoping that they could have used their home form, with the vociferous backing of the home support, as a foundation to play their way out of trouble.

As it is, we will instead, for the most part, be seeing games decided based purely on the quality of each team without the home side having the advantage of the 12th man.

It’s likely that we will see a lot of goals


Have you seen some of the scorelines since the restart of the Bundesliga?

Whilst the rest of Europe’s elite have offered up slightly more normal scores, there have been some very high-scoring games in Germany’s top-flight.

In the round of fixtures on the weekend of 30th May alone, we saw Bayern demolish Dusseldorf 5-0, Monchengladbach beat Union Berlin 4-1, Dortmund beat Paderborn 6-1 away from home and a thrilling 4-2 away win for Leipzig at FC Koln. So, why is this?

There are a multitude of possible reasons but for me it comes down to two potential answers. The better teams have been able to dominate and have therefore treated the games like training matches, which it must feel like with the lack of atmosphere giving the games a more relaxed feel.

The second reason could be down to the lesser teams being unable to draw that extra 10% from their crowd when the players have needed it most.

Without that encouraging support being present, matches have getting away from some teams, where once they have gone behind it has been difficult to bring it back.

Teams will need a good start or risk a poor run of form

When the Premier League season starts again, teams will desperately need to get a few good, early results or risk falling into a really poor run of form.

This has been most clearly seen from the likes of FC Schalke and FC Koln who have both been really poor and remain winless since the return of the Bundesliga.

This is very surprising for supporters of both teams.

Whilst Schalke weren’t in the greatest form before the suspension of the season, they were sat in 6th place, hoping for a European place.

Now, with the team down in 11th, fans will be disappointed with how the season has fizzled out. Then we consider Koln, in pretty decent form before the league ceased, who now find themselves looking over their shoulders, trying to stave off the threat of relegation.

On the other hand, Werder Bremen, who looked down and out as they were 8 points adrift of safety, have had a few good results. The side, currently in 17th, have won twice and now only find themselves 3 points short of Mainz in 15th.

With only a few days left before the Premier League’s resumption, the nerves are starting to jangle and the excitement is building. If the football around Europe is anything to go by and if the Premier League chiefs follow the recent improvements made by the Bundesliga, then we could be heading for an exciting climax to the English top-flight.

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