Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick has admitted that having to play football matches behind closed doors will have an effect on the minds of teams, as football returns to action.
The Bundesliga is set to become the first of Europe’s top five leagues to resume play this weekend, following its suspension in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Bayern currently sit top of the table and are preparing for an away trip to Union Berlin as they look to get things back underway.
Answering online questions for Bayern’s official website, head coach Flick admitted that the (lack of) atmosphere will be a challenge: “Of course, it is different: Fans and emotion are the be-all and end-all of football. Everybody prefers to play in front of spectators. The preconditions are the same for everyone. It all depends on who can deal with it best”.
Flick, who replaced Niko Kovac last November and signed a deal until 2023 last month, also provided an update on his squad’s physical and mental fitness level ahead of their return to action, saying: “I think a certain mentality is an advantage. That’s what you need in football. Just playing pretty football won’t see us ending the games in the way we want to.”
Flick confirmed that his side have been training hard and played an internal friendly last weekend, describing the intensity as ‘very high’, but also expressed his gratitude at the decision to allow five substitutes instead of the usual three.
He did, however, admit concerns that the two extra substitutes could be used by teams to waste time, suggesting that Bayern would only be using the advantage in the case that players are fatigued. For balance, it should be noted that teams can still only use their substitutions in three different ‘blocks’ in order to avoid precisely this.
Philippe Coutinho, Corentin Tolisso and Niklas Sule all remain unavailable for football’s return due to long-term injuries, while Javi Martinez hasn’t made a full return to training yet, making him a doubt.
Bayern will hope to resume play with a much-needed win against Union Berlin, as they remain tangled in a title race with Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach in the nine games that remain.