Bundesliga: All you need to know as season resumes

As the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes will be on Bundesliga as it is set to resume behind closed doors.

A view of the stadium of 1.FC Union Berlin in Berlin, Germany. The next Bundesliga contest there will be played on Saturday.   -  AP

2020 – earlier dotted with marquee sporting events, including the Olympics – has seen very little sporting action over the past few months as the world grappled to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Humanity, however, is trying to inch back to normalcy as lockdown restrictions are eased in large parts of Europe and elsewhere. Sport, too, is looking at a restart and the Bundesliga, Germany’s top-flight football league, will be the first major European league to make a comeback when it resumes on May 16. The clubs have returned to training, guided by strict health protocol and with a blanket ban on fans.

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How will action resume

The remaining matches will be played behind closed doors and no more than 300 people, including players and support staff, will be allowed in the stadium. A Special Match Operations Task Force formed by the DFL has recommended that the stadium be divided into three zones – Zone 1 – the “interior”; Zone 2 – the “stands” and Zone 3 – the “stadium exterior” – and that “a maximum of roughly 100 people is permitted to be in each zone at once as well.”

However, there appears to be a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the league as the coronavirus cases have increased over the last week. Cases have been reported at top-tier sides FC Koln and Borussia Monchengladbach, while the entire squad of second division side Dynamo Dresden has been forced into quarantine after two members tested positive for coronavirus. German Football League (DFL) boss, Christian Seifert, though, feels the leagues can continue as long as there is no steep rise in cases.

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The Bundesliga is keen on completing the last nine rounds of matches by the end of June to save the clubs from financial trouble. An abandoned League season might cause the League a loss of EUR 300 million (USD 325 million) in television money. The final matchday is scheduled for June 27.

How the league stands

The top four spots of the Bundesliga are separated by six points. Reigning seven-time champion Bayern Munich sits atop with 55 points, holding a four-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund. RB Leipzig, which has had a remarkable season, is behind Dortmund by one point on 50, while it has Borussia Monchengladbach snapping at its heels, trailing by a mere point. SC Paderborn 07 and SV Werder Bremen currently occupy the relegation spots with 16 and 18 points respectively.

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While there are nine rounds of matches to be played, Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen will meet in their game in hand.

Matches to look forward to

May 16 - Borussia Dortmund vs FC Schalke

While the return to football will be welcomed, it will indeed be a bizarre sight when Borussia Dortmund hosts FC Schalke in the much-anticipated Ruhr Derby on Saturday. The derby, to be played at the Signal Iduna Park, generally attracts over 82,000 spectators but will be played sans fans. A win for Dortmund will see it inch closer to Bayern at the top, while Schalke will be eager to reduce its 12-point deficit to the top-four.

An aerial view of Rudolf-Harbig stadium. The entire Dynamo Dresden squad, which trains there, has been forced into quarantine after two members tested positive for COVID-19. - AFP

 

May 25 - Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

Perhaps the biggest match remaining in the calendar is the Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. A loss to Bayern here would all but end Dortmund’s chances of winning the league for the first time since 2012. Bayern cruised to a 4-0 win in their previous clash.

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June 11 - Paderborn v Werder Bremen

Glued to the bottom of the table, Paderborn is staring at relegation. However, a victory over Bremen, which it currently trails by two points, could perhaps change that. A loss here will see Bremen demoted to the second division for the first time in 40 years.

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June 20 - RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund

If Bayern hasn’t taken an unassailable lead at this point, then this tie could prove to be crucial when Leipzig and Dortmund go head to head at the Red Bull Arena. Also in contention will be a Champions League spot for next season.

Opening week fixtures
  • Saturday, May 16: Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04, RB Leipzig v Freiburg, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Fortuna Duesseldorf v Paderborn, Augsburg v VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Moenchengladbach.
  • Sunday, May 17: FC Koln v Mainz, Union Berlin v Bayern Munich.
  • Monday, May 18: Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen.

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