Post-pandemic football – how La Liga will look different

Having previously been suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, this weekend marks the return of the Spanish top flight, La Liga. Following suit of the German Bundesliga which resumed last month, matches will be played behind closed doors. With 11 games left to play, two points separate old-time rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, and it could well go down to the wire, despite the latest Spanish La Liga betting odds predicting another title for the Catalans.

As the current campaign gets back underway, football will have a very different feel to it. Let’s take a look at the changes to post-pandemic football and the measures that La Liga are taking, which could be replicated by many other major leagues around the world.

Home advantage a thing of the past

With matches going ahead behind closed doors, there’s no such thing as home advantage. Smaller teams heading to the likes of Camp Nou won’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated by a large and passionate home fan base. But for some teams in La Liga, matches won’t be played at their usual home grounds. One of these is Real Madrid, who will entertain Eibar at the weekend from their training ground, the Alfredo Di Stefano, which is also used by their ‘B’ team. The 6,000-capacity stadium will host Los Blancos remaining fixtures as renovation works will continue on the Santiago Bernabéu, club president Florentino Perez confirmed. Levante too, are having their stadium, the Ciutat de Valencia redeveloped, but are moving nearly 100 miles south to play their matches in Alicante at the Estadio Olímpico ‘Camilo Cano’ – which usually has a capacity of 3,000.

Empty stadiums remastered

To combat the lacklustre atmosphere associated with the currently empty stadiums, fans tuning into television broadcasts will be treated to a sensory experience – with augmented reality picturing virtual fans in the stands, and an audio library supplying artificial crowd noise. The latter has recently been used in the coverage of the Bundesliga fixtures – with presenter and pundit Gary Lineker praising the use of sound as an alternative to the eerie silence that otherwise circulates, particularly the larger stadia. The virtual images will convey real-to-size home fans, wearing the club’s colours when the match is in-play. When the match has stopped, this will transform into a canvas, that will show institutional messages. The experience will be broadcast both nationally and internationally, however, fans in Spain will be given the option of whether or not to watch with the virtual add-ons. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas has said the innovations will make football more attractive to fans, and specifically broadcast in a way which replicates pre-pandemic action.

More matches in quick succession = more substitutes per match

This is a change that will undoubtedly disadvantage those teams of a smaller size, or those that don’t have strength in depth in certain areas of the field, and will ultimately decide the latest La Liga betting tips from Betfair’s experts. But the Spanish FA have authorised that teams may make up to five substitutes in a match. Not only will this favour the teams with larger squads, but those who are much fitter and are able to combat the heat of a Spanish summer. Barcelona boss Quique Setién, however, has already come out and said this change will do more damage than good, claiming: “Many games are resolved in the final minutes and with this change rivals will be able to have more fresh players in this phase of the match, where we tend to take advantage of this fatigue.”

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