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After a two-month hiatus, the Bundesliga made its welcome return this past weekend, making it the first major soccer league to return from the Coronavirus-induced hiatus.
There were concerns that plans would be derailed by an outbreak at a Bundesliga club, and eyebrows were raised when Augsburg’s manager Heiko Herrlich missed his team’s match after breaking isolation protocol... to go and buy toothpaste!
There were also concerns that fitness levels and the standard of play would be low, and the stadium atmosphere—or lack of atmosphere—would be a bit too weird.
But, for the most part, those fears didn’t come to pass and it was a highly successful round of games.
Firstly, those expecting pre-season levels of fitness and a lack of action were pleasantly surprised, as the pace was much higher than expected.
Perhaps a league that already has a winter break knows how to keep fit without games?
There was some sloppiness, but also a great deal of attacking play and excellent goals—notably the brilliant solo effort Pierre Kunde scored for Mainz (which was admittedly helped by some slightly socially distanced defending from Cologne). There also appeared to be fewer fouls and breaks in play, and a lot less diving.
Each club was given a 51-page book of safety protocols, and most seemed to stay as safe as possible.
Hertha Berlin got a little too close with their celebrations, but Borussia Dortmund showed how to execute the perfect socially distanced post-goal reaction.
That was unusual and it was strange to watch games in completely empty stadiums, that sounded a bit like echoey indoor swimming pools. But it wasn’t too jarring to distract from the action once you got used to it.
Of course, not all fans were happy: there were protests in Cologne from those who feel the action shouldn’t continue in empty stadiums. Those who feel games are only being played for the sake of money.
But the Bundesliga resumption appears to be a rousing success—and crucially, it lays a blueprint from the proposed return to action for leagues like the Premier League and La Liga.
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