With little competition, the Bundesliga goes global

first_img“But now they are also looking forward to seeing Fortuna Duesseldorf and Paderborn. It’s crazy.”In Mexico, football journalists are grateful for something to cover — and the sorely-missed revenue live sport generates.“For those of us who make a living from football the fact there hasn’t been any activity really affects us. A weekend without football is really difficult,” said Emilio Fernando Alonso, a Mexican reporter for ESPN.In China, where the Super League might not begin until June, German football’s meticulously planned return is being closely watched.Writing in the Oriental Sports Daily, columnist Ji Yuyang said the biggest challenge for the Bundesliga was not restarting during the pandemic, but being able to outlast it because of financial pressures that clubs were facing due to the health crisis.“Half of the teams in the top two leagues are in danger of going bankrupt, according to estimates in Germany,” Ji wrote.“So for many German clubs, whether it was better to wait for failure or risk restarting, they chose the latter.”The quarantine and social distancing measures that Bundesliga clubs have instituted are also being scrutinised in Italy and Spain, whose leagues are some way from being able to consider resuming.“It will be a barometer, the reference point for all the others… if it all goes well it will be a great success and if there’s a big problem it will have a similarly powerful negative effect,” Movistar+ commentator Barbero said. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will have a global audience when his side Bayern Munich face Union Berlin on SundayParis, France | AFP |  German football will find itself in an unaccustomed global spotlight this weekend as audiences starved of live football turn to the only major European league back in action.With the Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Serie A in Italy all still sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bundesliga will take centre stage on Saturday.Even in Brazil, media coverage has switched from domestic football stories to what TV viewers can expect to see when Borussia Dortmund meet Schalke in the biggest match of the opening day, albeit it without spectators in the stadium.Cable channel Fox Sports, which holds exclusive rights to show the Bundesliga in Brazil, will be showing the Ruhr Derby at 9:30 am local time. Its website already features a lengthy article about the games entitled “The wait will soon be over”.Even Brazil’s biggest media group, Globo, is getting in on the act with interviews with four Brazilians who play for Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg midfielder William, who admitted players were “a little bit scared” about the implications for their health.In India, foreign football leagues have found a market in India’s urban youth who keenly follow the Premier League and support clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. But a few of these fans also watch La Liga and Bundesliga.“I am desperately waiting for the Bundesliga to start this weekend. I am thirsty for live football action in this lockdown,” Amjad Rehan Ibrahim, a student of Delhi University, told AFP.– ‘A barometer’ –Indian international forward Jeje Lalpekhlua said he would also be tuning in to the coverage on Indian broadcasters Star Sports and Hotstar: “It’s difficult without football for so long. I am surely going to watch it.”In Japan, rightsholder Sky Perfect is going to show two Bundesliga matches this weekend free of charge.In Europe too, the matches in Germany will provide a much-needed fix of live sport.Adolfo Barbero, who commentates on Bundesliga games for the Spanish channel Movistar+, said: “I can assure you that I haven’t seen this level of interest in the Bundesliga in 20 years. Normally people support Bayern Munich, Dortmund or even Bayer Leverkusen and that’s it. Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

Steelers rounding into form as second half looms

first_imgPittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates making a first down catch during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. The Steelers won 51-34. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mike Tomlin isn’t interested in progress reports. The final grade is all that matters to the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach. So forgive Tomlin if he’s not ready to assess his team or the division it plays in as the season reaches its midway point.“It’s easy to write and tell stories at the turn, I’m not going to,” he said.The way Tomlin figures it, if the AFC North is the toughest division in the NFL it’ll play out over the next two months. By then the fact Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland are all over .500 heading into November may be long forgotten.“I think if we are (the best) it’s going to be revealed in the second half of the season,” he said.One thing is for certain, however. After a sluggish start the Steelers are in the mix. Pittsburgh (5-3) finally has momentum heading into Sunday’s rematch with the rival Ravens (5-3). The Steelers have won two straight for the first time all season and looked every bit the role of contender while dismantling Indianapolis 51-34 last weekend.Tomlin praised the offensive line, particularly right tackle Mike Adams, for giving quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all the time necessary to pass for a club record 522 yards passing and six touchdowns. Adams filled in capably with starter Marcus Gilbert out with a concussion, helping Roethlisberger get off 49 attempts without getting sacked once.Though Gilbert will be back in the lineup barring a setback this week, Tomlin’s assessment of Adams’ play against the Colts might as well double as a status report on a team that spent the first half of the year searching for consistency as it flip-flopped wins and losses regardless of who was on the other side of the field.“I thought he was a finisher,” Tomlin said of Adams. “I just liked his performance. A big arrow pointed up relative to some of his other performances.”Yet the Steelers are wary of how quickly the arrow can change direction. They felt pretty good about themselves after a road victory at Carolina in Week 3 then followed it up with a still hard to fathom home loss to Tampa Bay.Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger believes he leads one of the most talented offenses in the league. The tricky part is trying to get it to perform that way on a weekly basis. After some troubling growing pains, the Steelers appear ready to hit their stride.While Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell give Pittsburgh one of the best quarterback/wide receiver/running back combinations in the NFL, it’s the development of the players around them that has keyed the recent surge.Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant needed six weeks to earn a spot on the active roster. The 6-foot-4 fourth-round pick has quickly emerged as a valuable target, catching three touchdowns in his first two games. Veteran Lance Moore languished on the depth chart behind Justin Brown but has flourished since moving into the slot position he felt he deserved to hold all along. Second-year wideout Markus Wheaton emerged from a lengthy slump to catch an 18-yard scoring pass from Roethlisberger against Indianapolis that jolted the Steelers to lifeOut of the entire group, Bell might be the best pass catcher on the team not named Brown. He already has 42 receptions at the midway point“We know what we’re capable of,” Bell said. “We showed everybody. Now we have to go out there and put performance on top of performance.”It’s what Tomlin calls “stacking wins.” How high the pile becomes will depend on if the offense can finish drives the way it did against Indianapolis – when five of six red zone possessions ended in touchdowns – and if the defense can create even a little bit of chaos.That hasn’t happened with any regularity so far, though there were flashes against the Colts. The Steelers sacked Andrew Luck twice and sent him to the turf so often Colt’s pristine No. 12 white jersey was a decidedly darker shade by game’s end. Pittsburgh will need to keep the pressure on to compensate for a secondary that struggles to stay in front of anyone.Cortez Allen’s rise to the role of shutdown corner has come to an abrupt stop. Luck picked on Allen repeatedly, with most of the passes resulting in big plays or penalties. It’s not what the Steelers had in mind when they signed Allen to a five-year extension on the eve of the season opener. While Tomlin stresses he has confidence Allen can bounce back, Allen will need a good week of practice just to start against the Ravens.“Often times he’s in position … but positioning is just an element of it,” Tomlin said. “You’ve got to finish.”A message sure to resonate throughout a locker room eager for a return to the postseason after a two-year absence.___Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFLlast_img read more