CNN  — 

“Our duty was to come back prepared for this moment. It was tough, but we’ve made it.”

That is how La Liga president Javier Tebas describes the return of the top division of Spanish soccer.

Spain has recorded a total of over 240,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including over 27,000 deaths, but with new daily cases of the virus now below 50, and after just over three months without football, La Liga resumes Thursday.

Following on from the Bundesliga’s example, games will be played with fans absent.

Since the Bundesliga resumed, home advantage appears to have disappeared. Of the 46 Bundesliga games to have taken place, only 10 have been won by the home team, while 22 have been won by the away side.

One twist in the La Liga run-in is that second-place Real Madrid will stage home games at its 6,000-seater Alfredo Di Stefano stadium – where the club’s second team plays – while renovations continue at the 81,000-seater Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

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Real Madrid will play their remaining home games at the 6,000-seater Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where their B-team would usually play.

Who will be champions?

As the league returns, Barcelona sits at the top of the table with 58 points, two ahead of Real Madrid, while third-placed Sevilla is nine points adrift of Los Blancos.

If the reigning champion can win the league for the third time in a row, it will be Lionel Messi’s 11th La Liga title of his career, meaning he would only be one behind the record of 12, currently held by Real Madrid legend Francisco Gento.

It is one of the few La Liga records the Argentine has yet to break, and is one that Barcelona fans would undoubtedly love him to steal from their arch rivals in Madrid.

Real Madrid players won’t let this happen without a fight though – as midfielder Lucas Vazquez recently told Real Madrid TV that his side would be treating each remaining game as if it were a cup final.

If Barcelona win La Liga, Messi will have won 11 Spanish league titles during his career -- one short of Real Madrid legend Francisco Gento.

“That’s the starting point for those 11 games that we have left,” he said. “Eleven finals, we take them like that, and hopefully from here to the end we can get all the victories and get the league title.”

Of the two teams, Barcelona arguably has a slightly more difficult run-in.

Both El Clasico games have already taken place, but Barcelona still has to face 2013-14 La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, who are in a battle themselves to secure one of the four Champions League qualification spots. Diego Simeone’s team is sixth in the table.

Barca will be strengthened by the return of Luis Suarez though, who had been set to miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery, but has been able to recover in time after the suspension of the league because of the pandemic.

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Luis Suarez has been able to recover from knee surgery in time for the resumption of La Liga.

Alternative storylines

The title fight isn’t the only La Liga storyline.

Thursday’s fixture is the Seville derby, between Sevilla and Real Betis.

Sevilla hasn’t qualified for the Champions League in two seasons, and will be desperate to finish the season strongly.

Also vying for one of the remaining qualification spots is Getafe, a team that has never qualified for the Champions League and was playing in the second division just two years ago.

Getafe CF are pushing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

At the bottom, having finished seventh last season, Espanyol currently prop up the La Liga table with only 20 points from 27 games.

Relegation would be a disaster for a club that has played in the top division since 1993.

The relegation zone is made up of Leganes on 23 points and Mallorca on 25, with Celta Vigo just one point above.

Bottom-placed Espanyol are facing relegation from La Liga for the first time since 1993.

The fan experience

With matches being played behind closed doors, La Liga has come up with a plan to give the fans the most authentic experience possible in the circumstances.

“What we have decided is to give these two options on how the spectator wants to see the game: If they want to see it virtually with sound, or without sound,” said Tebas.

“We have worked with a Norwegian company that specializes in virtual audience and EA Sports and [video game] FIFA, because when you play FIFA you hear the real stadium atmosphere in each place.

“I think we will see a good virtual reality, but they [the fans] will be able to choose what they want.”