Talking about football in the difficult days of the COVID-19 crisis means talking about the German Bundesliga.
The upcoming duel between second-placed Borussia Dortmund and league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich is attracting worldwide attention.
With Germany one of the few countries to have restarted its domestic football league, a three-digit number of countries is to broadcast the delicate duel of Germany’s leading sides at the Signal Iduna Park.
Marketing officers from both clubs and the league association might be delighted considering the publicity effect, while fans eagerly wait for another footballing delicacy.
The worst fears of football being played behind closed doors leading to less quality have not been realized. By contrast, sides like Bayern, Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, and RB Leipzig gave plenty of evidence that the so-called “ghost games” have a particular charm.
Football behind closed doors seems an advantage for technically advanced sides, as football is reduced to its core activity without being affected by significant impact from the outside. In Dortmund and Bayern, two such sides are going to face off this Tuesday evening.
Fans now puzzle over the question of what will decide the nail-biting duel.
Statistics talk about the crucial starting point. To win the 2019/20 Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund (57 points) have to beat Bayern (61) to retain any realistic chance.
However, Bayern also have tough fixtures against fifth-placed Monchengladbach and third-placed Leverkusen in the remaining six rounds.
Neither side appears to be affected by the unfamiliar atmosphere in having to play without a cheering crowd. Both Dortmund and Bayern seem to have used the six-week hiatus to recharge and perform at an impressively high level.
This is all the more surprising for Dortmund, as the team of Lucien Favre typically relies on the support of up to 80,000 fans, including 25,000 forming the so-called Yellow Wall.
Dortmund vs Bayern is not only the battle of a team of enchanting young talents challenging established stars, but the thrilling duel of the league’s top-scoring sides.
Bayern’s 80 goals in 27 matches set a new record, but Dortmund are only narrowly behind on 74.
The Bavarians’ coach Hansi Flick has led the side back to success, revitalizing the team spirit. At the same time, he has brought the best out of established stars such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, youngster Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski.
However, Dortmund might have found its suitable tactical 3-4-3 system just in time. The side established a solid defense around leader Mats Hummels next to full-backs Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi.
Upfront, a gifted line of attackers such as Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt is doing a good job of compensating for the loss of injured team captain Marco Reus.