Bundesliga’s Return Puts Japanese Soccer Trio Back in Spotlight

 

 

After weeks of no competition, the German Bundesliga returns on Saturday. Yuya Osako, Makoto Hasebe, Daichi Kamada and the rest of the league’s players have stepped up their preparations for competition after the long layoff.

 

The season was suspended in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Now, with the green light to resume play, the Bundesliga will become the world’s first high-profile soccer league to step onto the pitch again.

 

There are 36 clubs in the German League’s top two divisions, divided evenly with 18 apiece.

 

The 26th matchday of the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign kicks off its stretch run on Saturday, May 16. The revised schedule is set to wrap up a slew of games on June 27 and 28.

 

Saturday’s early matches to be played without spectators are: Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke, RB Leipzig vs. Freiburg, Hoffenheim vs. Hertha Berlin, Fortuna Dusseldorf vs. Paderborn, and Augsburg vs. Wolfsburg in the early games, with Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach on tap for the late-night clash.

 

A day later, it’s FC Köln vs. Mainz and Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich.

 

On Monday night May 18 (local time), Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen square off. 

 

Veteran forward Osako, a Kagoshima Prefecture native who turns 30 on May 18, plays for Werder Bremen, who are in 17th place in the first division with four wins, six draws and 14 defeats (18 points). Osako is tied for second on the club in goals (four) in 18 matches. Davy Klassen has notched the same number of goals in 24 league matches. Osako also has one assist.

 

Defender Hasebe, 36, and midfielder Kamada, 23, compete for Eintracht Frankfurt, who are near the middle of the table in the top division with 28 points (eight wins, four draws and 12 defeats). Hasebe, a former Japan national team captain now in his 13th season in Germany, has appeared in 16 matches to date, while Kamada has played in 19, registering two assists. Neither player has scored in a league match this season.

 

Bayern Munich sit atop the table with 55 points (17 wins, four draws, four defeats). Borussia Dortmund are in second, four points adrift (15 wins, six draws, four defeats) and RB Leipzig is third on 50 points (14-8-3).

 

While Dortmund is targeting a ninth Bundesliga crown, perennial powerhouse Munich, winner of seven consecutive titles (and 28th overall), has other ideas.

 

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin applauded the decision to resume the season in Germany.

 

“It is great news that the German authorities have agreed that the Bundesliga can return,” Ceferin said in a statement: 

 

This is a huge and positive step to bringing optimism back to people’s lives. It is the result of constructive dialogue and careful planning between the football authorities and politicians, and I am confident that Germany will provide a shining example to all of us in how to bring football ー with all its excitement, emotion and unpredictability ー back into our lives.

 

I wish everyone connected with this every success. 

 

DW.com, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s English-language website, reported that economic concerns were a big factor in the Bundesliga’s decision to rescue the season. The website noted that roughly 70% of total revenue comes from matchday sources.

 

What’s more, DW.com reported, “canceling the season would cost roughly €138 million ($149 million USD) in ticket sales, potentially €225 million ($ 243 million USD) in advertising (depending on the contracts), and a whopping €350 million to €400 million ($378 million to $430 million USD) from media agreements.”

 

 

COVID-19 Tests

 

To follow government-recommended protocol, coronavirus testing has been done extensively in Germany, including a recent second batch of tests. According to published reports, almost 1,700 COVID-19 tests were conducted among players and team personnel from the three dozen Bundesliga clubs, with just 10 positive tests for the coronavirus announced on Monday, May 4. 

 

Elsewhere, Italy’s Serie A clubs are set to start training again on Monday. The English Premier League, which has been idle since March 13, is targeting a return, too. June 1 is a potential relaunch date. In Spain, meanwhile, La Liga, is aiming for a June 20 relaunch, league president Javier Tebas said Sunday.

 

 

Author: Ed Odeven

 

 

Ed Odeven

Author:

Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.

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