Will closed-door matches help Indian players and teams perform better?

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With matches taking place behind the closed doors we look at whether a few Indian players will be able to perform to their potential with no fan pressure on their heads.

Probably this season is going to be the perfect stage for all the players who’re considered to be the Maradona’s and Messi’s, but only in the training ground. This season’s ISL is going to be held in Goa and all the matches will be played behind closed doors, which obviously means that fans won’t be allowed to enter the stadium to support their beloved teams.

While it might be very disheartening for the fans as they won’t be able to see their players live in the stadium, but the question is, with football stadiums empty, will that player who only performs in the training ground finally be able to come out of the shadows in the weeks and months to come? Maybe yes.

Will closed-door matches help Indian players and teams perform better? images 2020 09 27T185207.997
Fans: The 12th man and die-hard supporters of the teams

Well, fans are often called the 12th man, and their presence at a game can have a huge impact on many results, especially on any player’s performance. We’ve often seen many players appreciating fans for the kind of stage they set for them to perform and also how their support helps them to perform better and help them to feed off the energy of the supporters. It can be very hard for them and the majority of football fans to relate to the idea that an empty stadium could be viewed as good news.

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But, we’ve to understand that one player’s motivation is another player’s suffocation when it comes to the supporters, often leaving managers intensely irritated by the way in which matchday performances bear little resemblance to what they see on the training ground.

Performing in front of the fans will surely make one an overnight hero for each and every fan, but performing only in front of the manager inside an empty stadium will also help a player who always sets the world alight all week and then goes missing on the matchday to grab a spot in every single match. It mostly matters how one accepts the challenge, it can be a perfect stage for training world champions, the player who benefits from empty stands and can turn up like in practice to take the center stage.

While, it might seem very unrealistic for an experienced player to relate to this idea, but surely the young ones who’re yet to prove themselves as a regular in their team can relate to it. As there won’t be a single fan inside the stadium, no verbal abuse from opposition fans and not having to worry about the ‘occasion’, presents an opportunity for young debutants to flourish with reduced pressure.

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Sahal Abdul Samad: Good in training but fades away in matches sometimes

Some players will surely benefit from empty stadium but so will a referee. In the 2019-20 ISL season, the referees had to take a lot of criticism (even more than usual) and fair enough, there have been a few dodgy decisions made by them that may have made certain teams feel like they have been targeted. The absence of vociferous fans would mean a calmer atmosphere and that referees would need to show fewer yellow and red cards.

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We often notice some sort of traits and flaws being there from the very first minute with some players, and more to do with the pressure that an individual puts himself under to do well. But with others, the tell-tale signs will surface on the back of supporter frustration, maybe after a misplaced pass in a game where the team is underperforming.

Will closed-door matches help Indian players and teams perform better? images 2020 09 27T185055.398
Fans: The 12th man of any team

There are a lot of players whose performances are negatively impacted by a crowd, but there would a very few players, brave and honest enough to tell their manager that they are struggling to handle the demands of the supporters.

For example, the player who receives the ball, looks up and then, gripped by self-doubt, turns down the switch of play that they would make without a second thought in training, mostly because of the fear of making a big mistake and how it will be viewed and accepted by the crowd.

Everyone surely remembers Igor Stimac talking about the quality that most of the players show on the training ground and how he gets intensely irritated because the matchday doesn’t resemble the same quality as what he saw in the training ground. Well, it’s very fair to say that Igor Stimac can have a very staggering season to watch out for.


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