For some, the idea of football returning behind closed doors has left the game looking bland and void of passion and life, especially in England where the Premier League title is all but wrapped up and its largely just a relegation battle left to be played out. Yet, in the division below, things are anything but decided with many of the top sides set to play each other still during their nine remaining rounds of fixtures, creating a potentially explosive and gripping finale to the season even regardless of the rather muted setting the matches are being played in.
For example, Fulham are set to face each of the other sides which make up the Championship’s top four during the restarted season calendar. Each and every one of those matches could have an instrumental swing on the final season table.
In just 33 days, 108 matches are set to be played out in the English second division with many predicting an almost tournament-like feel to the matches. Sure, it’ll be odd among the empty grounds, with the shouts of the players echoing around the almost eerie atmosphere, yet in many ways that might just add to the tension of things as supporters. Think to tense moments in movies; they’re not overpowered by shouting, cheering or loud music but often instead the sound is dropped to let the silence punctuate the tension. In an odd and unintended manner, the empty grounds that coronavirus precautions have caused are going to create a real-world version of that effect.
And that could well filter onto the pitch too. Some players naturally respond better under pressure than others and can switch off the idea of what is going on beyond the pitch. They don’t respond to the weight of potential situations or allow it to get into their heads. But others can’t do so as well and that pressure cooker environment that could well be created by the surroundings might well just create an almost cup final feeling to each of these important games. It’ll have an impact, but unlike the power of a packed crowd or home advantage, both teams will equally face the same challenges in every game. It’s an extra, fair challenge which adds to the drama of the games, making these returning nine rounds of Championship football some of the most interesting and exciting.