It’s not a secret that teams enjoy playing at home or in front of their own fans to be precise. Football history is replete with examples of how teams have overcome seemingly impossible situations with the support of their home fans firmly behind. Also Read - Coronavirus: After Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi, Health Minister Zafar Mirza Tests Positive
We don’t have to go much further in history to prove this unwritten principle. Also Read - Coronavirus: Centre Emphasizes on Increasing Testing, Many States Report Lower Positivity Rate | Top Developments
Last season, Liverpool won the Champions League after a long wait. However, their hopes of even making the final of the continental event were hanging by a thread after being smacked 3-0 by Barcelona at Camp Nou in the semi-final first leg. Also Read - Coronavirus: Kerala Public Service Commission Postpones Interviews Scheduled Between July 7 and 10
But things changed dramatically. When it was Liverpool’s turn to host the Spanish giants at Anfield, backed by their fans, Jurgen Klopp‘s men produced a comeback for the ages, with a 4-0 win and qualifying on 4-3 aggregate.
Let’s go a bit further. Champions League 2016-17. Barcelona were pounded 4-0 by French club Paris Saint Germain in a round-of-16 clash first leg.
Second leg was at Camp Nou which saw a 96,000-plus fans attending the fixtures. Naturally, Barcelona were the crowd favourite and the immense support resulted in a stunning comeback – a 6-1 win for the hosts.
Of course, this is not a given for every home fixture. However a cursory glance at statistics will given the impressions that home advantage is an important factor in the outcomes.
Take for example the Bundesliga – the first top-flight league football competition to resume in Europe amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
All the matches are being played behind closed doors. And since the league resumed last month, the percentage of home wins has plummeted to 21.7 per cent without fans from 43.3 per cent with fans, as per a report in Independent.
A hostile away environment does play into the minds of players even if they never explicitly accept it during their playing careers.
Several managers have in recent days admitted that playing without fans will be a strange experience but players will get used to the new normal and ultimately, it’s the quality of football that will matter.
However, we live in an age where top talents are often landed by clubs boasting of big purses, backed by rich investors. Often, critics have pointed that financial might now dictates a club’s success rather than the ability to nurture talent.
Judging by this trend, the smaller clubs or in other words, clubs who aren’t as financially strong, have lost a major advantage in home fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least for the immediate future.