Thiago Alcantara has opened up on the “emotional” impact of football without fans, revealing how he’s struggling to cope without playing in front of an audience, as reported by the Echo.
The loss of supporters has been keenly felt by clubs like Liverpool that rely, to a certain extent, on a strong connection with their particular fanbase.
“This year, with the fans missing, the team has needed to find an extra gear to be able to compete,” the Spaniard told the official matchday programme.
“I think it’s the emotional side for players. Brazilian players bring this emotion on to the pitch – suffering in bad times and highly driven when times are good.
“This emotional aspect is really important, not just for Brazilian footballers but Brazilians in general.
“We’re suffering a lot with this in our profession, we’ve adapted but obviously we really miss the fans.
“Football is a game, a spectacle, it’s entertainment. With all due respect to the opposition, when we play we try to put on a show and perform for people.
“It’s reciprocal – you go out and play and you do something well and you get an emotional response from the fans, you get a response when you make a mistake as well.
“You help the fans and they help you, you’re playing together with them and this emotional aspect is important to us.”
Given how the loss of fans has affected the motivation of players, particularly in Europe, in which the Anfield faithful are famous for making things highly uncomfortable for the opposition, it’s not surprising how difficult it’s been for Thiago to adapt.
Demonstrated most clearly in the controlled goal celebrations that have dominated the league since the stadiums were closed to spectators, football has undeniably lost a good portion of its soul.
Even for only a few games at the end of the season, having the fans back at the grounds will undoubtedly reinvigorate the players, with a view to potentially having full crowds back for the next campaign.