DORTMUND: The gaze of the sporting world will fall on Germany this weekend as the Bundlesliga becomes the first major soccer league to emerge from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
All 18 clubs will crank back into action in what could act as a catalyst for other leagues to follow suit.
Strict health and safety protocols will be in place and stadiums will be empty for the so-called ghost games.
Topping the bill will be the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 — a fixture that would normally be played out in front of 80,000 raucous fans.
This time there will be eerie silence with only around 200 people pitchside and in the stands, including medics, security, hygiene staff and certain media personnel.
“It will most certainly be the most unusual derby in history,” Dortmund’s head of pro players Sebastian Kehl said this week. “This game lives off fans, their emotions, the intensity of the stadium. We will not experience any of that.”
A heavy police presence is expected outside the Westfalenstadion to make sure fans desperate to get closer to the action, or anti-lockdown protestors, do not gather — a situation that could throw the restart into doubt.