A real-time response

Real will play home games at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano.
Real will play home games at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano. / REAL MADRID
  • We're going to be treated to artificial crowd noise that will supposedly be able to react to on-field events as they happen

One rainy afternoon at the FC Barcelona museum I stood for what seemed to be an hour, transfixed by a video wall where fans from all over the globe sang El Cant del Barça, the club hymn in unison. Little did I know that a couple of years later this could be adapted to bring an atmosphere to an empty stadium.

The singing supporters montage is truly hypnotic; whether the digitally enhanced version is quite so successful remains to be seen.

The PR suggests the 'fake' noise will offer a real-time response to enhance the experience. I have an open mind but doubt any inventor could replicate one particular fan who has a season ticket just behind the commentary box at Everton's Goodison Park whose comments are not for broadcast and force us to cover our microphones.

We are promised 'real-time response' during matches. Does this stretch to hurling abuse every time Gareth Bale touches the ball?

Some players may thrive if they don't have fans on their backs, others may suffer if they can't surf the noise.

Bale and Co will lose some of the home advantage of playing at the Bernabéu as Real Madrid take advantage of the situation to reconstruct the iconic stadium. Home fixtures will be played in the cosy Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, usually used for reserve games.

Let's be honest, it had been a pretty uneventful season in La Liga. Upon resumption there will be an injection of intrigue.

It didn't look like the dream forward line of Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio would be teamed up until next season but one of the few upsides of a three-month hole in the season is getting the injured pair back to fitness.

It could be argued that Hazard hasn't been fit at all since his 100-million-euro move from Chelsea. Initially it looked like he was squeezing into the wrong size of jersey and then he picked up a series of restrictive injuries.

Asensio would have been out for the season if it ended in May but the extension has given him time to recover from the ACL injury he suffered against Arsenal in pre-season. The uniting of these three talented players for the first time could be enough to give them the edge in the eleven remaining games.

Barcelona have a two-point lead, but life seems less harmonious behind the scenes. Luis Suárez, another player written off, is fit to return to lead the attack.

Unfortunately, Ousmane Dembélé won't be alongside him. The club unregistered him with La Liga when it looked like he was out for the campaign and brought in Martin Braithwaite from Leganés. The young Frenchman could at least return for the Champions League upon resumption of European competition in August.

It's a journey into the unknown for everyone. LaLiga president Javier Tebas has hinted that a small number of fans will be allowed back into the stadia before the end of the season but until then there will be crowd recordings.

If clubs are struggling, they may wish to keep the boo boys and girls out and pump up the volume of the positively programmed supporters who will never wave the white handkerchiefs.