The Bundesliga will become the first elite soccer league to return to action during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as the German league plays nine matches over three days beginning on Saturday.
The action starts with six matches on Saturday, with all 18 teams in Germany’s top tier competing over the course of the weekend.
Social Distancing, Testing Protocols in Place
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and state prime ministers came to an agreement on May 6 which allowed the Bundesliga and the second-tier Bundesliga 2 to resume play. Both leagues will do so under strict protocols. While Germany has fared relatively well during the coronavirus pandemic, there remain concerns – as there are in most countries – that opening up society too quickly could lead to a rapid spread of the virus.
That means fans won’t be in attendance for any of the matches, at least at first. Officials will test all Bundesliga players for COVID-19 twice weekly. Players who test positive will isolate themselves for two weeks.
Bundesliga Odds (Saturday Matches)
- RB Leipzig (-340) vs. Freiburg (+750)
- Hoffenheim (+120) vs. Hertha Berlin (+210)
- Fortuna Dusseldorf (+115) vs. Paderborn (+230)
- Borussia Dortmund (-210) vs. Schalke 04 (+500)
- Augsburg (+240) vs. Wolfsburg (+110)
- Eintracht Frankfurt (+195) vs. Mgladbach (+135)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Bundesliga teams won’t engage in handshakes or goal celebrations. The league will also implement the temporary rule changes authorized by the International Football Association Board, allowing for up to five substitutes per game rather than three.
Even with these rules in place, hiccups are all but assured to occur. Bundesliga 2 club Dynamo Dresden placed its entire squad in isolation for two weeks after two players tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend. Meanwhile, FC Augsburg manager Heiko Herrlich broke quarantine by leaving his hotel to purchase toothpaste. That violated rules requiring a two-week isolation period before players or managers can participate in the league, and Herrlich now needs two negative tests before he can rejoin the team.
“I made a mistake by leaving the hotel,” Herrlich said in a statement. “Even though I have followed all hygiene measures, both when leaving the hotel and otherwise, I cannot undo this. In this situation, I was not able to act as a role model for my team and the public. I will, therefore, be consistent and stand by my mistake.”
Revierderby Highlights First Weekend of Return
The best of Saturday’s matches pit Borussia Dortmund against Schalke 04. Not only is this a traditional German derby, but Dortmund sits just four points behind Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table, while Schalke is in a tight battle for a position in the Europa League next season. Dortmund comes in as the heavy favorite at home, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing them as a -210 pick to walk away with three points against Schalke (+500).
RB Leipzig will also take the pitch on Saturday as the title contenders host Freiburg. Leipzig holds third place in the Bundesliga at the moment, five points back of Bayern. The hosts (-340) should handle their business against visiting Freiburg (+750), though Freiburg did win the first match between the two sides in October.
If you’re looking to watch Bayern, they won’t be in action until Sunday. The seven-time defending Bundesliga champions will visit 11th-placed Union Berlin (+1200), with Bayern (-550) heavily favored to get three points on the road.