Monday's soccer news starts the week that will see the rest of Europe's major soccer leagues resume play. The Premier League returns on Tuesday. Serie A follows on Saturday. What passes as the new normal for professional sports means closed door games and attempts to figure out how to add an environment. That means adding crowd noise to the broadcasts, video boards, and any other potentially good idea to get an atmosphere without fans in the stands. We already know what this looks like from the leagues back in business, with mixed returns.
Whether or not anybody ever questioned the importance of fans probably isn't worth asking. What we're seeing is how crucial they are to making games count. Sure, what we've seen over several weeks of the Bundesliga and last weekend from La Liga counts, but it's a categorically different version of the game. Figuring out what works under this new normal is as big a question on the field as off of it.
Bayern Munich will win the Bundesliga. Liverpool will win the Premier League. Barcelona or Real Madrid will win La Liga. Juventus or Lazio will win Serie A. It's what happens with the rest of the table in the leagues telling the story. If the lack of a clear home field advantage holds in the other European leagues, there's not enough space in the table for teams to significantly rise or fall. Schalke still hasn't won a game since February and they're still in the top half of the table. Fortuna Dusseldorf's win streak crashed into Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund with a draw at home with Hoffenheim in between. That's one point from nine, with Fortuna still sitting in the relegation playoff spot. Now, it's RB Leipzig.
"It's the duel between David and Goliath again, but on Saturday we saw how close we were," Fortuna Dusseldorf coach Uwe Rosler said. "Our games against Augsburg and Union as well as all of our competitors' games in the struggle for relegation don't matter until Wednesday evening. We just have to concentrate on our game against Leipzig. We have relegation in our own hands. That is not the worst starting point."
Especially considering that Leipzig hasn't won at home since the season resumed. They also haven't lost, with draws doing interesting things to the Bundesliga table. Not assuming contending teams will hold up at home may end up being a Bundesliga issue rather than something we see across the rest of Europe. La Liga's early returns had four of its 10 games ending with the home team winning with three draws. One of those three away wins was Barcelona beating Mallorca 4-0.
Whether or not this tells us much of anything about the finale of this season or what happens next season is an open question. It's not exactly throwing out the form book. It is realizing that it might become harder to figure out what we might have taken as obvious just a few months ago.
Moving to the soccer news, The NY Times' Elian Peltier, Tariq Panja, and Rory Smith go through what happened with Ligue 1, the only major European league that won't resume the season. BBC Sport previews the Premier League returning to play. The Guardian's Louise Taylor explains the situation with Newcastle United and a potential change in ownership. The Telegraph's Sam Wallace asks about the financial situation with Real Madrid and Barcelona. The Independent's Miguel Delaney looks back at the 2010 World Cup.
Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell explains an issue with the format of the MLS is Back tournament. AP's Rob Harris with FIFA's response to US political maneuverings around the end of US Soccer's anthem protest ban.
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