Notes on the restart of German soccer

The German Bundesliga resumed play last week. Every team has now played two games.

Fox Sports has televised a majority of the matches, and I’ve watched nearly all of the ones it has shown. Here are some thoughts about what I have seen.

1. The matches haven’t been very good. Nearly all have been routs or poorly played. Some have been both. However, for soccer fans, this is the only game in town, and the telecasts have been welcome.

2. It’s understandable that the play isn’t what I hoped for. These teams haven’t had a lot of time to work together, and there were no practice matches prior to the resumption of the season.

3. The match Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday the 26th) should be a good one. It will be first place vs. second place when Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund in Dortmund. These are two of the top ten teams in Europe. A Bayern win would all but clinch the title for the perennial champions. A Dortmund win would pull them to within one point of the lead.

4. The players don’t wear masks during the matches for obvious reasons. The subs are required to wear them while watching. They sit more than six feet away from each other. The managers have the choice of wearing or not wearing masks. In the matches I’ve seen, nearly all opt not to wear them.

5. The nature of the game dictates that the players will be in close contact with one another pretty constantly. Close contact during goal celebrations is discouraged. Players aren’t celebrating by jumping on one another, as in normal times, but neither are they avoiding fairly close contact.

6. These matches seem to impose no serious health risk. It’s my understanding that players are tested often, so that even with close contact, the likelihood of infection is very low. Moreover, these players are young and healthy. If a few become infected, there is virtually no danger any will die. Nearly all coaches are also young enough not to fall in high risk categories. And the virus is barely a factor in Germany any more. That nation is reporting only 300-400 new infections, and fewer than 50 deaths from the virus, per day.

7. A week ago, telecasts of matches without fans seemed bizarre. However, this week they didn’t seem that strange. I’ve already become accustomed to them. Even so, I miss the fans. They add plenty.

8. The Fox Sports commentators have been mostly poor, in my opinion. Some of them seem more intent on having a conversation (at times repetitive) about German soccer than on calling the match. They often neglect to tell us which player is on the ball, and sometimes don’t even identify the player[s] who assist on goals.

9. For those interested in following the Bundesliga more closely, I recommend a site called Kicker. Even if you don’t read German (I don’t), the site is full of great information. In addition to the “table” (standings) one can find player ratings for every match and for the season as a whole (oddly “1” is the best rating), information on every player, goal and assist stats, and a team of the week.