The German Bundesliga becomes the first league in Europe to return to football action this weekend and the opener will see the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho hunting for goals in the game against Schalke on Saturday.
This game will easily pass for one of the strangest derbies in German football history as it will be played behind closed doors.
It’s already being referred to as ghost derby as fans will not be present in the stadium to cheer their favorite teams. Therefore, the players on the pitch and folks in the dugout will have it all to do in terms of providing the spark during the encounter.
The venue is the Signal Iduna Park, a stadium renowned for its boisterous crowd support. However, the electric atmosphere will be absent and this will be a strange sight and feel for folks who will tune on to this game.
Only the media and pitch officials will be allowed into the area. Even Germany coach Joachim Loew doesn’t qualify for access to the stadium to watch and assess his national team stars.
Ahead of the game, former Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl has tagged the game the most unusual derby in history in a chat with German daily Welt.
On a good day, this game should see Dortmund fans cheer their team on against their perennial local rivals but this won’t be the case on Saturday.
Dortmund are in the race for the Bundesliga title and need to close a 4 point gap between them and leaders Bayern Munich who travel to face Union Berlin on Sunday.
It must be noted that the German Football League already has a detailed hygiene guideline drawn out ahead of the restart of the Bundesliga. There’s no doubt that German football will provide solace for football fans who have been starved of the game for more than two months.
Some unfamiliar scenes will be seen on camera though, as substitutes in the dugout will wear masks in all the games, while goals celebrations will be replaced by simple elbow taps. Meanwhile, handshakes and hugs are banned. In fact, goal celebrations will be subdued. That is just what it is.
Regardless, viewing eyes will be on Haaland and Sancho as they continue their partnership which has been laden with goals thus far in the 2019/20 football season.
The duo will be tasked with providing the goods to ensure that Dortmund emerge victoriously over their local rivals and start off with a win.
They have some injury worries though as Emre Can and Axel Witsel are sidelined with muscle strain while the injury-prone Marco Reus is still in recovery from a groin problem.
The Revierderby should be a cracker and more so, as it’s the first game of competitive football across Europe’s major leagues since the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the game some months ago.