You can subscribe to the Totally Football Show here…
While most of us were just grateful to have some football to watch, the fear in Germany was that the return of the Bundesliga could be beset by problems that would scupper the whole thing.
But, at the time of writing at least, everything seems to have passed without much incident, and from the sounds of things there are some German officials taking a deep breath in a darkened room.
“The overwhelming feeling is one of relief,” said Rafa Honigstein on the Totally Football Show this week. “It was seen as a big risk for the Bundesliga to come back, there was a lot of criticism, a lot of people would have been almost happy if things had failed to work smoothly.
“Of course this is only the start of the restart, because every matchday is going to bring potential disruption. But I think it was really important for morale, for encouragement and confidence in the system that the first matchday went relatively smoothly.
“So far, I think it has gone as well as the Bundesliga could have hoped for.”
One of the bigger fears about allowing games to go ahead, even without any fans present in the stadia, was that they would instead congregate outside grounds and provide a public health risk. Indeed, there was even talk of moving the Revierederby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke so such a big game, liable to attract such crowds, wasn’t on the opening weekend.
However, those fears appear to have been unfounded.
Rafa said: ”I think there were still some areas in Germany where the police had to intervene because people were hanging out, but I don’t think it was connected to the football as such. And where it did happen we’re talking about dozens, rather than hundreds. One of the biggest fears was that they would attract huge groups of fans to the cities and stadia, but as far as I can tell, having spoken to a few officials, none of these fears were realised.
“I think they’re very happy that the fans, after a lot of intense communication and talks from the clubs, realised that it was not a good idea [to congregate], even if they planned to do it in the first place. I think a lot of them have been unfairly tarred with this brush that they might do something stupid, when actually the real evidence for that was quite thin on the ground.”
What about the games as a spectacle from broadly neutral observers?
“The first five minutes were odd,” said Daniel Storey on the Totally Football Show, “it felt like a pre-season friendly game, especially the Bayern game [which kicked off at 5pm on Sunday] with the lengthening shadows, it all felt a bit ‘balmy August early evening’, but in terms of how weird I thought it was going to be, it felt reasonably normal.
“The standard and the intensity of the play was much higher than I thought it was going to be. There was a pleasing pace to the games, and a pleasing intensity.”
Matt Davies-Adams added: “The thing I struggled with – I think because it’s the Bundesliga and I don’t have a vested interest – was that’s where I missed the crowd to provide the necessary jeopardy and intensity about the game. I might get that from a Premier League game behind closed doors because that’s the league I watch every week, but it was difficult to feel that without having the crowd to provide it for you.”
“It’s not perfect, it’s not as we’d want it to be, but in the current circumstances it’s good to have some football to discuss,” concluded Michael Cox.
You can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Football Show here, and even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.