Frenkie de Jong is competing for the title for the first time in a country where football is a reflection for the first time | Right away

With the Sevilla-Real Betis derby, La Liga will resume on Thursday night after more than three months and next weekend it will be the turn of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. An exciting title fight beckons between frenkie de Jong’s club and the eternal rival from Madrid, but in a country where football is just as important.

“Whether Spain yearns for football? No, the fear of the coronavirus is still too great,” says Edwin Winkels, who has been living in Barcelona as a correspondent since 1988. “The Spaniards are now more concerned with regaining their own personal freedoms. For the first time, football is a reflection in the country.”

With more than 27,000 deaths, Spain has been hit hard by the coronavirus, although it has fallen much better in recent weeks. The resumption of La Liga is another step in the easing, but of course that happens in empty stadiums. Real Madrid are not even playing in the imposing Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, which is being rebuilt, but in a small stadium on Valdebeba’s own training ground.

“With empty stalls, it will be different. Nevertheless, I think that Spain will simply sit in front of the TV. There are 11 rounds to play and Barcelona are only two points ahead of Real. It could be an exciting final sprint. The noises I hear are that the long break did Barcelona well, but it was also allowed.”

Frenkie de Jong with a mouthpiece in the training complex of FC Barcelona (Photo: Pro Shots)

“I see a whole bunch of children with the number 21”

In the months leading up to the Corona crisis, barcelona was never quiet. For the first time since Louis van Gaal in 2002, Ernesto Valverde sacked a coach during the season and under successor Quique Setién the game did not get much better. And that was the end of a dispute between star player Lionel Messi and the club’s board.

“Now it finally looks pretty quiet,” Winkels continues. “Perhaps Setién managed to refine his ideas of football in the team during the long break. Not that the tiki-taka is coming back from Guardiola’s time. That will never happen again. But it can get a little fresher.”

De Jong, who played almost everything before the Corona crisis, will most likely play a role. Shortly before Spain came under lockdown, Winkels interviewed him before his book “From Johan to Frenkie”, which was published this week.

“Frenkie is already very popular here. I see some kids walking in a shirt with the number 21. It is also hopeful that he will play so much, even though he is not yet leading the Barcelona game. I think that’s partly because of the turbulence at the club and partly because of the position he plays in. It’s not the best Barcelona he’s come to.’

De Jong, who turned 23 last month, has played more forwards at the Camp Nou than he did when he was at Ajax. ‘He’s happy with the game time he gets, he gets a lot of experience but I think he’ll get better in the end if he plays more resonated. Next to Busquets. Then he could eventually become the brains of the team behind Lionel Messi. Maybe Setién has that in mind and we’ll see more of it in the near future.”

On March 1, FC Barcelona lost the Cl’sico 2-0. (Photo: Pro Shots)

“It would be nice for the Dutch”

De Jong is also seen at Barcelona as a man for the future in a 30-year-old squad. Lionel Messi turns 33 this month. Gerard Piqué and Luis Suérez, who have returned from injury, are already there, while Sergio Busquets (31), Jordi Alba (31), Ivan Rakitié (32) and Arturo Vidal (33) are also running out of time.

“That could be a factor in the title fight,” Winkels said. ‘I’m not saying the selection is too old, but in the next few weeks it will continue with two league games a week. This is due to the high Spanish temperatures of June and July, with a short recovery time.”

“It’s going to be tough, but for us Dutch it would be nice if Barcelona became champions. This has often happened in recent years, but now de Jong can finally do it again with a Dutch base player. For this we have to go back to the time of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, almost fifteen years ago. It’s time.’

FC Barcelona’s first match after the Corona stop will take place on Saturday at 22:00 against Real Mallorca. A day later, Real Madrid play Eibar at home at 7.30pm.

Top 6 La Liga

  • 1, FC Barcelona 27-58 (+32)
  • 2. Real Madrid 27-56 (+30)
  • 3. Sevilla 27-47 (+10)
  • 4. Real Sociedad 27-46 (+12)
  • 5. Getafe 27-46 (+12)
  • 6. Alético Madrid 27-45 (+10)