MADRID— With virtual crowds, daily matches and lots of testing for the coronavirus, football is coming back to Spain.
The Spanish league resumes this week more than three months after it was suspended because of the pandemic, becoming the second top league to restart in Europe. The Bundesliga was first. The Premier League and the Italian league should be next in the coming weeks.
The Spanish league will kickstart in empty stadiums on Thursday with the popular Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, though the season will officially resume on Wednesday with the second half of a second-division game between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete, which was interrupted in December after Rayo fans called a Ukrainian player from Albacete a Nazi.
The title race will resume over the weekend with leader Barcelona visiting Mallorca on Saturday and second-place Real Madrid hosting Eibar on Sunday at its training center because the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is undergoing renovations for the rest of the season.
Defending champion Barcelona has a two-point lead over Madrid with 11 rounds remaining.
The league expects to play matches every day until its conclusion on July 19, and all players and coaches will be tested before every game.
Virtual crowds and chants — similar to those in video games — will replace fans on the television broadcasts. Viewers will have the option of watching the matches with the empty stadiums or with the virtual fans in the stands.