Football: Atletico resume training after rest of squad test negative ahead of Champions League quarter-finals

Atletico Madrid are to meet Leipzig in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Aug 13.
Atletico Madrid are to meet Leipzig in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Aug 13.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Forward Correa and injured defender Vrsjalko isolating at home, both asymptomatic

MADRID (REUTERS, AFP) - Atletico Madrid will return to training later on Monday (Aug 10)  for their final session ahead of their trip to the Champions League “Final Eight”  tournament in Lisbon after the rest of their squad tested negative for Covid-19, the  club said in a statement. 

The La Liga side’s morning session was postponed and their plans to travel to the Portuguese capital later on Monday were put on hold after two players tested positive for the virus on Sunday. 

But the club said Diego Simeone’s side would fly out to Lisbon on Tuesday without forward Angel Correa and injured defender Sime Vrsjalko, who were isolating at home after testing positive for the virus but were both asymptomatic. 

Atletico face German side RB Leipzig on Thursday in the quarter-finals, hoping to set up a last-four meeting with Paris St-Germain or Atalanta.

Continental football governing body Uefa said earlier on Monday that no changes were expected to the schedule despite the positive tests.

A Uefa spokesman said: “The match is planned to be played as scheduled. We have no further comments to make.” 

Atletico did not register any positive cases for the virus when La Liga re-started in June after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic, as the top flight was successfully completed without any major incidents.

But mass positive tests at Madrid second-tier side Fuenlabrada last month threw the finale of the second-division season into chaos, while cases across the country have continued to rise, with 1,895 cases being reported by the health ministry last Friday.

Earlier, a club statement said: “On Saturday, all members of the first team and the club’s party to Lisbon underwent tests as required by Uefa protocols to participate in the quarter-finals of the Champions League,” said a club statement.

"Among the results known today, two positives have appeared and they are self-isolating in their respective homes.”

Atletico said the Spanish and Portuguese football and health authorities had been informed and that a fresh round of tests will be carried out on the squad and support team.

They recognised this could mean last-minute changes to travel schedules as well as accommodation plans in the Portuguese capital.

“The club will coordinate the new schedules with Uefa and as soon as there is a new plan it will be made public,” added the statement. “We also request the utmost respect over the identity of the two positive cases.”

The self-contained eight-team tournament will be staged behind closed doors, starting on Wednesday with the final also set for Lisbon on Aug 23.

Spain has so far been one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with 310,000 registered infections and 28,500 deaths.

Although most sports have returned from a months-long lockdown cause by the virus, there are concerns that numbers of cases are beginning to rise again.

In recent days, France warned about an uptick in cases, Spain locked down a town of 32,000 for two weeks, Britain imposed new regional restrictions and Germany closed two schools.

Last month, Atletico’s city rivals Real Madrid announced forward Mariano Diaz had tested positive for Covid-19.

Sevilla, meanwhile, reported an unnamed player had also contracted the illness.

Real have since been knocked out of the Champions League but Sevilla are still involved in the Europa League. They play English side Wolves in their quarter-final in Duisburg, Germany on Tuesday.

The Champions League had been put on hold since March because of the virus with the last-16 stage completed only on Friday and Saturday.