Monday's soccer news starts with the Bundesliga's successful return to playing games that count. That may not be the same thing as a fully successful return, especially for anybody who thinks that the crowd can sway a result. Shocked looks, we all know it can. That was already the biggest talking point before, during, and now after a weekend of games that sort of seemed normal.
Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland underlined that point in a post-game interview where he seemed mildly perplexed at a question about his goal celebration. He ran to a spot near the empty supporters section and did a slightly modified version of what he would normally do. It wasn't a muted celebration, and it sent a clear message to those who weren't there and those who were. However long what we have might last, it's decidedly not normal.
Getting back to normal is the subtext for every game played without fans, every push to finish a season, every announcement that things can move forward. These are necessary steps regardless of motivation, even if they raise questions bigger than sports business. Pick a gargantuan number and it's a safe assumption that someone somewhere has connected it with the potential losses for a given league. With no clear indication when matchday revenue might return, pro sports around the world are wondering how to limit losses. None of them want to compound their issues with broadcasters and sponsorship partners wondering what happened with the rest of that season they're partially subsidizing. Fans weren't in the Bundesliga's stadiums, but the ad boards certainly were.
"We're used to a different atmosphere at this stadium," Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer said about his team's visit to Union Berlin. "But it's down to us, it's a question of motivation, of attitude and of being aware of what kind of match it is. We're trying to do out best of course, we've worked very hard, and now we want to live up to our full potential. It's a new situation. We have to cope with it. One of the nine matchdays is over. We shouldn't write off any team."
That might be the biggest takeaway from the new week one in the Bundesliga. There was certainly quality on display, but enough references from more than one announcer to preseason and early season to make the point. The better teams are probably still going to be better, but that's the same situation early on in any season. This isn't the same scenario in the midst of a global pandemic. That attaches itself to every sentence spoken by pundits, coaches, and players.
We tried to forget about things that we can't influence and concentrated on what happens on the pitch instead," Gladbach coach Yann Sommer said. That's where every team in the Bundesliga is right now. Whether or not clubs in other leagues get that opportunity is an open question with no clear answer.
DW's look at the situation for the Bundesliga. ESPN's Tom Hamilton and Stephan Uersfeld have their review of the weekend action. SI.com's Jonathan Wilson asks if the Bundesliga's return is the way forward elsewhere. The NY Times' Rory Smith explains what it took in Germany to get the games going. The Guardian's Barney Ronay hears the difference without a crowd. BBC Sport's Constantin Eckner with what it was like at Eintracht vs Gladbach. Reuters on UEFA's push to finish the Champions League and Europea League.
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