Bayern Munich right-back Joshua Kimmich says it's a whole new world playing in stadiums without fans.
“Normally you have more adrenaline, and more tension inside your body when you walk in and see the 80,000 fans screaming,” the Germany international told The Independent. “Now you have to push yourself and push your teammates. You have to be focused and more concentrated because there are no fans.”
The 25-year-old Kimmich says that strict protocols have been adhered to for the Bundesliga, the first major sports league in the world to return play amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but even still, not all of his fellow players are on board.
“Not everybody thinks it’s good football is coming back, but the system is good and we get tested every three days, and every day before games," Kimmich said. "We can be sure we are negative every three days, and this is important. For us it is really safe. Here in Germany we are the role model for other countries because we are the only place where it is possible to play football.”
Kimmich says that walking out onto an empty pitch is a jarring experience and any home-field advantage a team might have is gone.
"Normally I enjoy it when you walk out and see the atmosphere, the fans, the full stadium," Kimmick said. "The stadium is always full at Bayern and it’s really amazing. This is maybe what I miss the most. There is less emotion, less atmosphere. It’s really different, especially against Dortmund. There is always a great atmosphere, but I think it’s more a disadvantage for the home team.”
If there are any positives from the new normal, Kimmich believes that playing in an empty stadium means communication is up and theatrics are gone.
“It’s really different without the fans, because there is less atmosphere, no screaming after every corner or chance," Kimmich said. "But the positive is you can communicate with each other. You can speak with each other. You can hear what the coach is screaming on the touchline. Maybe the focus is more on the game. It’s not like a show. Also there is no more big show from the players any more, lying on the ground and screaming. It’s more focused on the game."
Delaney also believes that cooler heads prevail now when speaking to match officials.
“I can feel that I am less emotional when I speak to the referee," Kimmich said. "Maybe I am not that ‘pushed’ from the fans and not that emotional. When they are loud and they are screaming you are more emotional and maybe you speak in another way with the referee. Now you can be more quiet and calm and speak in a normal way. You don’t have to shout at him, and he doesn’t have to shout back.”
Bayern is currently atop the table by seven points over Borussia Dortmund with five matches remaining in the season. The team is next in action on Saturday when they visit fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen.