Eerie silence resounds as Germany ushers in football’s new abnormal normal
By Isuma Isuma, Abuja
While almost all countries are still enmeshed in the fight against a virulent enemy in the form of coronavirus, Germany closed the doors on Saturday to normal football standards to usher in the new abnormal normal.
That is even to put it mildly when one checks the celebration in the field of play against the conventional and usually exhilarating celebration experiences of forming heaps of human beings that have become a culture.
Even officials sat poles apart and the few journalists allowed in used thickly made face masks to protect themselves as if bullets of the virus were being shot straight into their mouth.
That was it yet as fans watched across different pubs, bars and cafès across Germany as the Bundesliga became the first big league in Europe to wrestle with the virus, it yet ushered in some sort of distractive relief.
The afternoon kick-off began with Dortmund’s Erling Haaland spreading the first goal of football’s plague times and stood by the corner flag with his teammates around him in a celebratory pastiche of social distancing, a strangely haunting image that will, you suspect, be recycled many times.
That Erling Braut Haaland’s 29th-minute opener, a casual flick from Thorgan Hazard’s cross, began his team’s destruction of their rivals from Gelsenkirchen, one that took Haaland’s side to within a point of the leaders, Bayern Munich, who face Union Berlin on Sunday.
“We stick to the rules but of course we would like to have our fans as it would be a different feeling,” said the midfielder Julian Brandt.
“For the first game back after so long, it was good,” the Dortmund hit man said.
Brandt set up Dortmund’s second after Haaland had hassled Schalke goalkeeper Markus Schubert into a mistake; Raphaël Guerreiro smashed home gleefully.
Far quicker to find their step, Dortmund dominated despite their absentees including Axel Witsel, Emre Can and the club captain, Marco Reus.
Elsewhere, Dortmund’s fellow title hopefuls RB Leipzig lost ground when being held 1-1 at home by Freiburg, who had an injury-time winner ruled out by VAR. Borussia Mönchengladbach made short work of Eintracht Frankfurt, scoring after 40 seconds through Alassane Pléa in a 3-1 win at that took them above Leipzig into third, three points off the top.
Markus Thuram doubled their lead in the seventh minute before Ramy Bensebaini’s penalty preceded André Silva’s late consolation.
Other major leagues in Europe are expected to follow the forced abnormal normal in June when the English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and others return.
Clubs are eager to return to avoid being heavily hit by financial crunch. For now, fans would watch online where football can’t be beamed live and as they can’t be in the stadium to watch and support their teams.
Welcome to the new abnormal normal, no thanks to the coronavirus otherwise known as covid-19 that broke out in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Isuma Isuma contributed this piece for Daily Mail