David Freezer: Is Bundesliga proving that City will lose some crucial home advantage?
- Credit: AP
So much of Norwich City’s survival hopes depend on making the most of home form when the season resumes, so should Canaries fans be worried by the trend emerging from Germany?
During the first three rounds of Bundesliga fixtures there have been just five home wins from 27 matches and it’s little surprise that two of those were comprehensive victories for the giants of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
That’s just 19 per cent of matches finishing in home wins so far, a significant drop from the 43pc prior to the campaign’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
That compares similarly to the Premier League, where the percentage of games won by the hosts was slightly higher at 45pc prior to the suspension.
It’s little surprise that the Canaries’ home win rate is lower than that, as the division’s bottom team, with four victories from 14 Carrow Road matches so far working out to 29pc.
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So is there cause for concern about home advantage disappearing without fans in the stadium to add the emotional edge of a passionate atmosphere?
City fans illustrated how important the ‘12th man’ can be during September’s epic 3-2 triumph over the superstars of Manchester City, when roaring their team through the nervous closing stages.
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Daniel Farke’s injury-hit squad put in an heroic display that evening, built around clinical finishing, scoring from all three shots on target. The reigning champions had 25 shots at goal and 69pc of possession – it wasn’t a total no show. Tim Krul was the busiest man on the pitch in those closing stages.
But from the moment Kenny McLean rose to head in the opener, the Canaries faithful sensed a special opportunity. The roars of encouragement very much played a part in keeping Daniel Farke’s team going to the final whistle as they emptied their tanks for the team.
Watching the closing stages of Dortmund’s attempt to find a late equaliser against title rivals Bayern on Tuesday night rather lacked that edge - as they suffered their first home loss of the season.
Instead of encouragement from the famous yellow wall at the 80,000 capacity Westfalenstadion, their attempts to force a late goal rather ran out of steam as Munich held on for the 1-0 win which has essentially retained the crown.
It wasn’t so much that Dortmund’s effort wasn’t there, more that the Bayern players looked calm and organised. They were not feeling the pressure of the home faithful dragging them down as the game built to a climax - that can force that crucial 1pc difference, the slight lapse in concentration which can lead to late drama.
Yet City and their Premier League rivals know that similarly flat atmospheres await, as the financial necessities of club’s surviving the pandemic’s impact put the focus on games being broadcast without spectators, with around just 300 people allowed within stadiums.
Could we see crowd noise played into stadiums? A Canaries fan sent me a message calling for a Carrow Road soundtrack which would include the swell of volume as Farke’s team attack and the celebrations of the ball hitting the back of the net.
It seems unlikely that the Premier League will allow such input but it could help, although it would feel rather strange for those actually in the stadium.
Goal music has prompted plenty of debate among Norwich supporters in the past but from the games I’ve watched in Germany, that music has at least provided some fun and urgency to goal celebrations, compared to those who don’t use it.
So let’s hope we get to hear some Samba De Janeiro echoing around Carrow Road soon.
With games against Southampton, Everton, Brighton, West Ham and Burnley remaining, all of whom are placed no higher than 10th, City surely have to improve their home form to have any chance of pulling off their “little miracle”.
On the other hand, perhaps trips to Arsenal, Chelsea, Watford and Manchester City don’t need to be seen as quite so daunting, on a more level playing field.
I’ll continue to watch the Bundesliga with interest as England’s restart looms, with innovations such as lifesize cardboard cutouts of fans being used at Monchengladbach, to try and bring a bit more life to proceedings.
It’s worth noting as well, however, that the second tier in Germany has seen home advantage drop only very slightly so far, from 41pc prior to the suspension, to 39pc of wins from its matches so far.