The 2019-20 German Bundesliga season returns this weekend after a two-month layoff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
German football was officially suspended on 13 March with most top flight clubs having nine games remaining.
When the league returns on Saturday 16 May, one of the opening games is one of the biggest in any German season – the Revierderby.
The two giants from North Rhine-Westphalia, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 will meet at Westfalenstadion, but for once, there won’t be 81,000 fans roaring their sides on.
Whilst France and the Netherlands have already called off any possible conclusions to their 2019-20 football seasons and the English FA scrambling around to get the Premier League completed, Germany have done all they can to get the current campaign concluded. It means all remaining games will be played in empty stadiums.
It will make for a unique end to the season, for both fans watching from home and the players themselves on the pitches. Players have already been tested and will be tested again before the weekend. 10 players tested positive for Coronavirus at the start of the month following the initial 1,724 tests among the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions.
Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Koln played the last game of the season so far, on Wednesday 11 March, in front of an empty stadium at Borussia Park, known as the ‘Ghost game’. The home side ran out 2-1 winners over their rivals that day with no atmosphere.
Whilst some players may not be happy to participate in the remaining fixtures amid such a deadly virus, much is still to be played for. Particularly Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
Lucien Favre’s side head into the final nine fixtures in second place, four points behind leaders Bayern Munich as they look to end the Bavarians’ seven-year dominance.
Dortmund had won seven of their eight league games following the turn of the year, coinciding with the arrival of Erling Haaland. The 19-year-old was tearing up the league with nine goals in his first eight appearances (5 starts) following his arrival from RB Salzburg in January.
With the 2. Bundesliga and Belarusian Premier League the only other European football leagues taking place this weekend, expect a big television audience worldwide looking forward to the return of football, with many of those eyes paying attention to Haaland in this game.
Schalke 04 don’t have as much to play for other than wanting to hand a dent in their rivals’ title challenge of course. David Wagner’s side will restart the league down in sixth and 12 points outside of the Champions League places.