Phase Two of the Premier League’s Project Restart is underway – with players now “training as a group and engaging in tackling while minimising unnecessary close contact.”
Phase Three includes normal training and build-up to competitive games – and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says the league is “as confident as we can be” about resuming the season in June.
If and when the Premier League returns, matches will clearly be played behind closed doors, as they are in Germany.
But if we follow the Bundesliga’s lead, what can we expect when teams return?
Because there has been a definite change of emphasis in German football.
There was a turn up in the Bundesliga on Wednesday. There were home wins. Two of them.
Schalke’s slide continued at lowly Dusseldorf, who triumphed 2-1, while Hoffenheim made a push for the Europa League places by beating Cologne 3-1.
But those two results bucked a post-lockdown trend. Away teams have prospered in the absence of any home fans, as witnessed when Hertha Berlin grabbed an unexpected point at RB Leipzig in midweek, Wolfsburg shocked Leverkusen 4-1 and Bayern did what Bayern do, by winning at title rivals Dortmund.
Home advantage now seems to be a thing of the past in the Bundesliga.
Tuesday’s action saw four matches – and four games which yielded no home wins.
Sunday saw three matches. No home wins.
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Five matches were staged on Saturday, three away wins with the only home team to triumph being Bayern Munich against struggling Eintracht Frankfurt.
The absence of supporters in German stadia really does appear to have made a difference.
Reach’s Data Unit has calculated that home teams won 43% of matches with fans in the stadium, but that has dropped to just 19% of games (five out of 27).
In fact, away teams have won 44% of matches since the return of football compared to 35% of games before lockdown.
The loss of home advantage has been particularly felt by clubs currently in the bottom six.
Clubs in the bottom third of the table won 30% of home games before lockdown. That’s dropped to just 10% of games since the restart.
Sides in the top six have also struggled going from 59% of games before lockdown to just 25% of games now. Clubs in the middle six, meanwhile, have dropped from winning 40% of home games to 22% since the restart.
Top six sides in the Bundesliga are now winning 90% of their away matches compared to 70% before lockdown.
So what does that mean for this weekend’s matches?
We take a look.
Bet on all Bundesliga matches here:
Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Friday 7.30pm, BT Sport 1
Leverkusen are odds on favourites with thepools.com to triumph at Freiburg and maintain the Bundesliga’s away day advantage. But they will need to perform better than they did on Tuesday. But prior to that Wolfsburg shock Leverkusen had been unbeaten in 12, winning 11 of them, including 4-1 and 3-1 defeats of Werder Bremen and Borussia Moenchengladbach post lockdown. They can bounce back quickly in Friday’s televised showdown.
Hertha Berlin v Augsburg, Saturday 2.30pm
Hertha have a 4-0 November humbling to avenge when Augsburg visit the capital but five of the last eight matches between these sides have ended drawn.
That’s a big 13/5 with thepools.com . But of more interest is the Over 2.5 goals market – 4/5 with thepools.com – because all but one of the last five games between these sides have featured Over 3.5 goals.
Mainz v Hoffenheim, Saturday 2.30pm, BT Sport 3
Relegation threatened Mainz’s visit from a Hoffenheim team boosted by Wednesday’s win over Cologne looks a likely contender for the home jinx.
Only two teams have a worse home record than Mainz, who have kept just two clean sheets in 14 home games, while Hoffenheim’s away record is an excellent won five, drawn five, lost three.
Schalke v Werder Bremen, Saturday 2.30pm, BT Sport 1
Ninth placed Schalke host second bottom Bremen, but while the relegation strugglers have ground out four points from their last two matches Schalke have hit the ground stumbling since the return with three successive defeats. This represents the perfect opportunity to finally gain a much needed win, but it is unlikely to be pretty.
Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt, Saturday 2.30pm, BT Sport 2
That a team in a Europa League qualification spot who have just celebrated a 4-1 win at rivals Leverkusen are only narrow odds on favourites to beat relegation threatened visitors underlines the topsy turvy nature of the Bundesliga since its return. At almost double your money with thepools.com Wolfsburg are surely a solid pick?
Bayern Munich v Dusseldorf, Saturday 5.30pm, BT Sport 1
Bayern don’t do home jinxes and have been imperious both pre-and post lockdown. Dusseldorf are unlikely to receive any encouragement in their bid to beat the drop in Munich.
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Union Berlin, Sunday 2.30pm, BT Sport 1
Union have shown little since their return, a scrambled draw against lowly Mainz their only point, while Moenchengladbach have won one, drawn one and lost one. The home team are heavily odds on – but Union’s ability to grind out another draw shouldn’t be completely discounted.
Paderborn v Borussia Dortmund, Sunday 5pm, BT Sport 1
Paderborn are unbeaten since their return. But two goalless draws and a scrambled 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim have done little to ease their troubles at the bottom of Bundesliga. They will look to keep it tight against Dortmund – but will fail and end up seeking damage limitation. Given Paderborn’s lack of threat in front of goal “Both Teams To Score No” is a big 11/10 with thepools.com .