La Liga and the Premier League are both set to return this month, with some games already having been played in the Spanish league and the English league restarting on Wednesday 17th, 2020. This return marks a major turning point for sportsbooks and online betting platforms that had to cope with months of activity.
The triumphant return of these major sporting events has been overshadowed by a ton of uncertainty over how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the sport, with each major league responding in its own way. Germany’s Bundesliga returned earlier in May behind closed doors to fans, while France’s Ligue 1 scrapped their 2019-20 season in its entirety.
The first matches in the Premier League to be shown are Aston Villa against Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal on Wednesday 17th June.
La Liga has got its season resuming where things were left in March&#8211;the opening game seeing Sevilla take a 2-0 victory over Real Betis.
Elsewhere, Barcelona thrashed Mallorca with a 4-0 victory in a match that was briefly interrupted by a troublesome fan who invaded the pitch in the hope of getting a selfie with the players. La Liga has limited the number of fans that can attend games to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, and have announced that they are seeking legal action against the fan for his disregard of the measures put in place.
The match was also notable in another way, as Lionel Messi became the first player in history to score 20+ goals in 12 consecutive La Liga seasons by earning a late goal deep into second-half injury time.
Messi’s achievement comes amidst concerns over the strain that a packed 2021 could have on top-flight football players.
There has been a lot of speculation over how players will fare next year, as the knock-on effect of coronavirus has seen a number of tournaments pushed into the beginning of 2021.
Some players in the Premier League are facing a grueling 13 months of near-continuous play when they return on the 17th of June.
Alongside the commitments to their respective leagues, players may also have to participate in domestic tournaments (FA Cup, Carabao Cup), European tournaments (Champions League, Europa League), international fixtures, Africa Cup of Nations, Copa America, and the newly re-arranged Euros.
Because of this massive schedule, attempts are being made to reduce the fatigue that players may experience.
The Champions and Europa Leagues are exploring the idea of having an eight-team mini-tournament in Lisbon and Frankfurt respectively to decide a 2019-20 winner. Not only would this reduce the workload for players, but it would also help reduce the possibility of spreading the virus as teams will be localized within either of these prospective host cities.
Further, the Premier League has announced that it has increased the number of substitutions each team can perform during a game from 3 to 5. This is in anticipation of more muscle injuries as returning players will not have been training as hard as they would’ve done if there hadn’t been a three-month suspension to the league. Climate was another factor in this decision as games will continue long into the summer.