'It's very difficult to even want to go on the pitch without Barcelona fans' - Vidal bemoans 'strange' behind-closed doors atmosphere


Arturo Vidal has bemoaned the "strange" atmosphere of behind-closed-doors fixtures, insisting it is "difficult to concentrate" without Barcelona fans being present to cheer the team on.

The 2019-20 La Liga campaign was postponed in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, along with every other major league in European football.

The green light was given for the action to get back underway earlier this month after an easing of lockdown restrictions in Spain, but supporters have been barred from entering stadiums with social distancing rules still in effect.

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Clubs are now having to adapt to a new competitive set-up in empty stadiums, and Vidal admits that his motivation to even "want to go on the pitch" has been in short supply since the restart.

"It's strange and complicated, from the things we have to do before games to the fixed protocols, as they are things you couldn't imagine before," the Barca midfielder told Radio Cooperativa.

"People gave you feelings we don't have now before we even got to the stadium. Now the atmosphere has changed completely.

"You don't have the motivation of your fans and it's very difficult to concentrate or, even, to want to go on the pitch.

"Football is about the atmosphere its fans create."

Barca got straight back to winning ways by seeing off Mallorca and Levante in comfortable fashion, but relinquished top spot in La Liga after being held to a 0-0 draw by Sevilla on Friday.

Athletic Club are next up for Quique Setien's men on Tuesday night, and Vidal acknowledges the fact that the reigning Spanish champions will have to raise their game to keep pace with Real Madrid.

"It will be a very intense and very hard game and we have to improve because Athletic are very complicated," he explained.

"We have to recover as soon as possible between matchdays."

Barca also still have the Champions League to play for, with a revised format set to see the competition reach its conclusion over the space of 16 days in August.

The Blaugrana will first have to see off Napoli in a round of 16 second-leg tie before the tournament becomes a straight knockout affair, with all remaining fixtures set to be played in Lisbon.

Vidal added on the changes: "If we beat Napoli, it'll be one-legged games and I like that because you're playing for it all in 90 minutes.

"In those circumstances is when important players have to show up, I want to do that."

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