A League in 39 days: from alarm to emotion

At last. LaLiga is already here again. Without forgetting the pain of the 27,136 deaths caused by the coronavirus that this crisis has left for three months, and despite doubts about whether it would be possible for the ball to roll again, football returns to the scene. And he does it in a big way. After Rayo and Albacete opened for yesterday, it will be Sevilla-Betis del Sánchez-Pizjuán who, 93 days after the last official match (that distant Eibar-Real), will kick off 39 exciting days in Primera and Second. In total, 110 matches in 11 days played every three days in which they will be clarified on the pitch, and not in the offices as feared, the champions, the teams that will represent Spain in Europe, the promotions, the clubs that promote the elite and the descents. From the state of alarm, with its six extensions, we pass to the state of emotion.

On dates reserved for the Eurocup that moved to 2021, the championship resumed on the 28th round in LaLiga Santander and in the 32nd round in LaLiga Smartbank after completing an unusual mini-preseason without friendlies and with two weeks of group sessions. Remember: Barcelona and Cádiz are leaders; Messi and Stuani, Pichichis; Oblak and Munir, Zamoras … There will be many and various news. Starting from an unknown panorama: there are teams that reappear in full ERTE due to the budgeted losses (about 500 million) and players whose wages have been lowered to face the future with guarantees. There are also those who have had to move for the works in their stadiums: Madrid to Di Stéfano and Levante to La Nucía. However, the most important of all the news is that there will be no public in the stands, at least until the new normal returns. It's more, The health protocols will only allow 230 people to enter the stadiums, including protagonists, televisions, auxiliaries and informants. For this reason, LaLiga, with the permission of Mediapro and Movistar, have removed new effects to make the broadcasts more attractive: there will be, if the viewer so wishes, canned sounds and a virtual audience, and will also be honored in the minute 20 to those who are no longer with infinite applause, banners will be displayed as souvenirs in the stands and some clubs, such as Villarreal, will stamp life-size photographs of their members to counter their absence and, by the way, decorate an image that the cameras will try to hide with their innovative television plans.

The routines and rules have also undergone variations. For starters, travel. Once the concentrations have been ruled out, the visiting teams move around during the day, with tickets reserved and paid for by the employers on flights or charter trains, and they will stay in hotel floors that are shut down to avoid contagion. As for the game, from today until July 19 (in August the European competitions will arrive), the coaches will be able to summon 23 players, having the right to choose up to five changes in a stand full of masks (the substitutes will be there and not on the bench) and in which social distance will be respected, as will be done in the VOR room in Las Rozas. The measure, agreed with AFE, aims to counteract the risk of injury by having to play every 72 hours, and will be complemented by four hydration pauses, instead of two, if they exceed 32 degrees. Once various tests were carried out that revealed five official infections at the beginning, the current casualties are only made up of the 12 sanctioned by cards (there are 58 warned) and those with muscle injuries. The only positive, already in quarantine, is a collegiate. There will also be changes before the initial whistle: there will be no handrails.

The best news for fans is that they will be able to enjoy many players who, before the break, had their participation in this season almost ruled out. Suárez, Hazard, Asensio, Costa and other stars have taken advantage of the circumstances to buy time and become unexpected signings. Even Chimy Ávila is already galloping. And it will not be the only attraction. The data that comes from the Bundesliga, the first championship to launch into the ring, show that the visiting victories have multiplied. The problem is with the 120 players who either end their contract (50) or are on loan (70) until June 30. Despite attempts by FIFA, UEFA and LaLiga to agree on a general law (they will not be able to play with another club, even if they have already agreed, until next year), the truth is that they will have to reach individual agreements with their clubs to write a addendum that allows them to play one or, if participating in Europe, two more months.

At the moment, the times of the first four days are known. There will be soccer during the week, Monday included, at 19:30 and 22:00, and on weekends, if the heat allows it in the north, two bands will join: 14:00 and 17:00. The last two days will be unified. Everything is, therefore, prepared to celebrate goals again even if it is without the hugs of yesteryear. Football returns with Thebes as standard-bearer, without Robinson in the living room of our houses and with Fali, the clear example that, even with an unforgettable pain in tow, little by little the long-awaited normality returns.