The Bundesliga will find itself in an unaccustomed global spotlight this weekend as audiences starved of live football turn to the only major European league back in action.

The German Football League decided last week to resume its first and second divisions from Saturday after a two-month suspension, with teams undergoing a seven-day isolation period after testing for the new coronavirus.

Strict health regulations mean all games will be played in empty stadiums with only some 300 essential staff and officials in and around the arenas.

Players have been told not to spit, celebrate in groups, or touch hands with team-mates, while some clubs will use music and cardboard cutouts of fans to enhance the atmosphere at matches.

The league is desperate to complete the season by 30 June for contractual reasons and is aware of the risk of another suspension if there are many positive virus cases among players.

It has already warned of the "existence-threatening" financial situation of several clubs due to the suspension and has warned another interruption would be disastrous for both league and teams.

"I expect we will have an audience of a billion"

With the Premier League, Spain's La Liga and Serie A in Italy all still sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bundesliga becomes the first 'big league' to restart after the Covid-19 shutdown, but little will have changed on the pitch with Bayern Munich hunting an eighth straight crown.

Leaders Bayern begin the final nine matchdays with a trip to Union Berlin on Sunday with Borussia Dortmund, four points behind the Bavarians, playing Schalke 04 a day earlier.

"The Bundesliga manages to become the first big league worldwide to restart," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told SportBild magazine.

"With the Bundesliga as the only league to be broadcast on TV, I expect we will have an audience of a billion."

Even in Brazil, media coverage has switched from domestic football stories to what TV viewers can expect to see when Borussia Dortmund meet Schalke in the biggest match of the opening day, albeit it without spectators in the stadium.

Cable channel Fox Sports, which holds exclusive rights to show the Bundesliga in Brazil, will be showing the Ruhr Derby at 9:30 am local time. Its website already features a lengthy article about the games entitled 'The wait will soon be over'.

Brazil's biggest media group, Globo, is also getting in on the act with interviews with four Brazilians who play for Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg midfielder William, who admitted players were "a little bit scared" about the implications for their health.

BT Sport show the Bundesliga in Ireland and the UK.

The current Bundesliga table

In India, foreign football leagues have found a market in India's urban youth who keenly follow the Premier League and support clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. But a few of these fans also watch La Liga and Bundesliga.

"I am desperately waiting for the Bundesliga to start this weekend. I am thirsty for live football action in this lockdown," Amjad Rehan Ibrahim, a student of Delhi University, told AFP.

Indian international forward Jeje Lalpekhlua said he would also be tuning in to the coverage on Indian broadcasters Star Sports and Hotstar: "It's difficult without football for so long. I am surely going to watch it."

In Japan, rightsholder Sky Perfect is going to show two Bundesliga matches this weekend free of charge.

In Europe too, the matches in Germany will provide a much-needed fix of live sport.

Adolfo Barbero, who commentates on Bundesliga games for the Spanish channel Movistar+, said: "I can assure you that I haven't seen this level of interest in the Bundesliga in 20 years. Normally people support Bayern Munich, Dortmund or even Bayer Leverkusen and that's it. 

"But now they are also looking forward to seeing Fortuna Duesseldorf and Paderborn. It's crazy."

In Mexico, football journalists are grateful for something to cover - and the sorely-missed revenue live sport generates.

"For those of us who make a living from football the fact there hasn't been any activity really affects us. A weekend without football is really difficult," said Emilio Fernando Alonso, a Mexican reporter for ESPN.

In China, where the Super League might not begin until June, German football's meticulously planned return is being closely watched.

Writing in the Oriental Sports Daily, columnist Ji Yuyang said the biggest challenge for the Bundesliga was not restarting during the pandemic, but being able to outlast it because of financial pressures that clubs were facing due to the health crisis.

"Half of the teams in the top two leagues are in danger of going bankrupt, according to estimates in Germany," Ji wrote.

"So for many German clubs, whether it was better to wait for failure or risk restarting, they chose the latter."

The quarantine and social distancing measures that Bundesliga clubs have instituted are also being scrutinised in Italy and Spain, where clubs have resumed training but dates for the resumption of the leagues have not yet been decided.

"It will be a barometer, the reference point for all the others... if it all goes well it will be a great success and if there's a big problem it will have a similarly powerful negative effect," Movistar+ commentator Barbero said.