All eyes of the sporting world will turn to Germany this weekend as the Bundlesliga becomes the first major football league to emerge from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
All 18 clubs will spring back into action in what could act as a template and spur for other leagues to follow suit.
Among the players returning to action, Mathew Leckie and Brandon Borrello are poised to become the first Socceroos to return to European fields.
Leckie’s Hertha Berlin are away to Hoffenheim on Saturday while Borrello will be in the mix as SC Freiburg travel to RB Leipzig at the same time.
Leckie and Borrello will be followed by more than 10 Australians across Europe as the game makes a gradual return during the pandemic.
Strict health and safety protocols will be in place and stadiums will be empty for the so-called ghost games.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 15, 2020
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 fans.
This time there will be eerie silence with only about 200 people by the pitch and in the stands, including medics, security, hygiene staff and certain media personnel.
The absence of supporters has led some clubs to innovate in order to provide some form of atmosphere. Borussa Mönchengladbach will place cardboard cut-outs of fans in the stands when it returns to action against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Everyone except the players must wear a mask.
“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.”