Bundesliga clubs returned to first team training on Monday as the German FA remain hopeful they can complete the 2019-20 season before UEFA’s deadline of 30 June.
The current football ban in Germany until at least 30 April remains in place, but players of top flight clubs returned to training this week, with players split into small groups or even pairs to help maintain social distancing rules.
Like much of Europe, the German Bundesliga has been suspended for nearly a month now. The initial decision was to resume the season from 2 April, before the seriousness of COVID-19 was properly appreciated. Nevertheless, that fact had not stopped some from speculating on when the Bundesliga would return, with odds apparently favouring it to be the first European league to return from postponement.
Most teams have nine league games remaining, whilst Eintract Frankfurt and Werder Bremen each have 10. The league tried a round of games in front of an empty stadium before promptly suspending the division for the time being.
Prior to suspension, Bayern Munich had a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table, with RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach making up the other Champions League places and outside title challengers.
At the other end of the table it was looking bleak for SC Paderborn, rock bottom on 16 points, six points behind the relegation playoff spot occupied by Fortuna Dusseldorf and a further four behind Mainz 05 in the final safety spot.
Bayern Munich could be the biggest winners of the league resuming as they were on course to win the Bundesliga title for an eighth successive season.
The Bavarians’ interim head coach, Hansi Flick, spoke to the club’s official website to explain the small group training sessions on Monday:
“We will also try to set an example in our current training plans. We adhere to the guidelines with caution and discipline, so we are currently avoiding physical contact and focusing more on the technical side of the game. After three weeks of ‘cyber training’, it’s good to be back on the pitch and put on football boots. It’s also important because you need time to get back into the swing of things. It’s a good change for the players, we’re trying to offer them a varied training programme.”
Bayern Munich had been scheduled to face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 first leg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday 25 February before European football was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even if the domestic leagues were to resume, very few are expecting the Champions League and Europe League’s to resume before 30 June, and may simply be voided. Football fans in Germany will simply be hoping the domestic campaign can continue before the middle of summer, which in it itself may simply be a sign that the world would have this epidemic under control by then.