Liverpool’s Thiago Alcântara has emphasised the psychological difficulty of playing football in the Covid-19 era, saying the lack of supporters makes it harder to keep going in the final stages of matches.
Whereas many high-profile figures, including Liverpool’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, have decried the impact of this season’s packed schedule on players’ fitness, Thiago said the emotional impact was even greater.
“More than physical I think it’s psychological,” the midfielder told the Spanish newspaper AS while preparing for Spain’s World Cup qualifiers. “You lack the boost fans give you in the final moments of matches, which gives you that physical boost.
“There’s also the fact you can do very little every day around the city. You go from home to training to training at home and get into a cycle where that’s all you do.”
Thiago has yet to feel the force of a full Anfield since joining Liverpool from Bayern Munich last year and his first season on Merseyside has coincided with the team’s sudden decline, after they romped to the Premier League title last season, including the worst home run in the club’s history.
“It will be beautiful to see a full Anfield but I also want to learn what day-to-day life is like in this new country,” the 29-year-old said. “Football loses a lot of its essence without fans in the stands. We’re competing in empty stadiums and we’ve had to relearn our craft because when we were children we played in grounds without fans, with parents screaming.
“We knew how to do that but we were used to playing with fans supporting us and shouting against us. Now we’ve gotten used to playing without fans, but we miss having them in the stadiums so much; every day we long for them.”