The Bundesliga news that could affect West Brom's title battle with Leeds United
Slaven Bilic and his squad may want to pay attention to the effect of empty stadiums on results outside Englandby Tom Victor
When the last round of Championship matches took place, draws for both West Bromwich Albion and Fulham ensured Slaven Bilic’s side kept their six-point buffer in the race for automatic promotion.
However, if the competition is to return behind closed doors, Bilic and his squad may want to pay attention to the effect of empty stadiums on results outside England.
There’s already been a very striking difference in the Bundesliga, a competition with huge and vocal crowds - namely that, when those crowds disappear, home advantage diminishes.
Since the return of the competition, home teams have won just five of 27 games, with 12 away wins and 10 draws. Away teams had won 35% of games before lockdown, but now that figure is up to 44%.
Thankfully for West Bromwich Albion, a loss of home advantage seems unlikely to be as dramatic as it might be for their promotion rivals. Albion have already picked up more points on the road than any other club, while their 39 points from 19 league games dwarfs their 31 from 18 at the Hawthorns.
In contrast, league leaders Leeds (37 to 34), third-placed Fulham (38 to 26) and Brentford in fourth (35 to 25) all have more points at home than on the road.
While Bilic’s team have more home games remaining than they do away fixtures, theoretically having more opportunities to lose a theoretical advantage (they’ve still only lost three times at home, after all), the identity of their opponents is worth keeping in mind.
Three of the four away games are against teams with a difference of 10 or more points between their home and away records - Brentford, Blackburn and Huddersfield - while struggling Hull and Birmingham are teams they ought to be confident of beating at home with or without fans present.
The big one, of course, is the Fulham game: Albion were due to host their rivals on the weekend of April 18, and the Cottagers can blame an away record of six wins, eight draws and four defeats for leaving them in third rather than in one of the automatic promotion spots.
It will be interesting to see if statistics from the Bundesliga are repeated in England, and, if so, how this impacts the race for promotion to the Premier League.