Coronavirus: LaLiga clubs return to training in groups of 10

By Sports Desk May 18, 2020

LaLiga clubs have returned to training in groups of up to 10 players.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were among the teams to post photos from the next phase of the Spanish top flight's attempted return early on Monday.

Following LaLiga's coronavirus hiatus, players were allowed to resume individual work from May 4 as the country began to de-escalate its lockdown measures.

Although strict guidelines are set to remain in place for Madrid and Catalonia over the coming weeks, the lockdown is being eased in many other regions of Spain.

And in accordance with government regulations and protocols, clubs are now able to resume group sessions at their training bases.

Initially teams will be required to work in groups of no more than 10 players, but they are still not permitted to use changing facilities and must arrive and leave individually.

The groups must work on different pitches, or at the very least in opposite halves.

LaLiga confirmed "group training may be carried out by all clubs, regardless of the de-escalation phase of the province in which they are located". Strict preventive and safety guidelines are in place.

"This is a significant step forward on the road towards restarting professional football in Spain, which has been on hold since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic," read a statement from LaLiga.

The league's president, Javier Tebas, who is aiming for a June 12 restart, told Movistar's El Partidazo: "The start of the next phase in LaLiga's Return to Training protocol is another step towards the restarting of the competition. 

"It will be good to be able to set all training routines on an equal footing. It's very important that every club have the same chance to be in good shape.

"It's not essential, but it's very important and we're grateful that it will be like that."

Tebas hopes football can be played every day once LaLiga returns in order to finish the season, saying: "That is what I hope.

"We shouldn't have any problems playing on Mondays across the eleven rounds of matches we have left to play. I hope for some sense from the Royal Spanish Football Federation on this. 

"It's very important for us to be able to give both our national and international broadcasters, and fans across the world, football on as many days as possible to ensure as little disruption as possible."

He also welcomed the return of Bundesliga action at the weekend.

"I'm very happy, and I've congratulated them because they've taken a very important step," he said.

"We've worked hard on this together over the past months, we've exchanged protocols, ideas, we spoke once or twice every week. 

"I'm very proud of the Bundesliga. It wasn't easy; they were the first to get up and running and they're an example to follow."

Related items

  • Mbappe chases Messi record, history weighs heavily on Pirlo – Champions League in Opta numbers Mbappe chases Messi record, history weighs heavily on Pirlo – Champions League in Opta numbers

    The Champions League returns this week after a short hiatus, with beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain looking to get back up and running – and exact a measure of revenge – against Manchester United.

    Juventus begin European competition under new head coach Andrea Pirlo, who faces one of the most experienced coaches in the game in Mircea Lucescu.

    Barcelona will endeavour to banish memories of August's 8-2 obliteration by Bayern Munich when they face Ferencvaros for the first time, while Chelsea will hope to improve the poor record Premier League teams have had of late against Sevilla.

    Here's the key data from Tuesday's matches in Europe's elite competition...

    Dynamo Kiev v Juventus: Pirlo feeling the weight of history

    Twice a Champions League winner with Milan in 2003 and 2007, Pirlo's first game in the competition comes away to Dynamo Kiev. None of the previous eight Juve head coaches have lost their first match in charge.

    In fact, Juve have only been beaten on matchday one in the competition once in 20 previous seasons, winning 11 of those games and drawing eight. That one defeat was a 3-0 loss at Barcelona three years ago.

    Dynamo boss Lucescu will be 75 years and 83 days old on Tuesday, making him the oldest coach in Champions League history, overtaking Jupp Heynckes (who was 72 and 357 days old in May 2018). If he wants to celebrate in style, he will need to inflect just a fifth group-stage defeat on Juve in 34 games.

     

    Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Mbappe chasing Messi record

    PSG's last home defeat in the competition was that famous loss to United in the 2018-19 round of 16, when Marcus Rashford's late penalty secured a 3-1 win for an understrength Red Devils and sent them through on away goals.

    If they are to start their quest for a return to the final with a win, Mbappe might be the man to do it. He has scored 19 goals in the tournament and, at 21 years and 305 days old, he needs just one against United to become the youngest player to reach 20. That would surpass Messi's record, set back in 2010 when he was 22 years and 267 days old.

    Of course, if United's unsteady defence focuses on Mbappe, they risk leaving Neymar unchecked. Only Messi (45) had more carries with a take-on in last season's Champions League than Neymar (36), and nobody progressed further with the ball than the Brazil star (1,279 metres).

    Barcelona v Ferencvaros: Koeman's worrying numbers

    Barca have not lost any of their previous 31 home group games since Rubin Kazan stunned Pep Guardiola's men 2-1 back in October 2009. When you consider Ferencvaros have not been in the competition since 1995-96, when they conceded 19 goals in six matches, you would not expect that Barca run to be stopped.

    However, coach Ronald Koeman heads into his first European game in charge with a pretty poor record. The fifth coach to take charge of at least six teams in the competition, after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri (six), Jose Mourinho (six) and Rafael Benitez (six), he has the worst win ratio (26.3 per cent) of anybody to manage at least 50 games in the tournament.

    Still, he has Messi. The Barca captain has been involved in at least one goal in 38 of his previous 43 group-stage starts, scoring 56 times and assisting 16.

     

    Chelsea v Sevilla: Can Werner lift English spirits?

    Sevilla, who knocked United out of last season's Europa League semi-finals, have won all three major European matches against teams from England. Chelsea, meanwhile, have taken one victory from their previous nine Champions League meetings with teams from Spain, drawing five and losing three.

    Frank Lampard will hope Timo Werner can make the difference. The forward was involved in nine goals in his last 11 Champions League games for RB Leipzig (seven scored, two assisted) and could become the third German to score for Chelsea in the competition, after Michael Ballack (four goals) and Andre Schurrle (two). He has, however, never scored at home.

    Other fixtures:

    Lazio v Borussia Dortmund:

    3 – Dortmund's last Champions League win in Italy was a 1-0 victory over Milan in March 2003, courtesy of a Jan Koller goal. They have lost all three such visits since.

    8 – Only Robert Lewandowski (10) scored more group-stage goals last season than Erling Haaland (eight). Haaland averages a goal or assist every 50 minutes in the competition.

     

    RB Leipzig v Istanbul Basaksehir:

    6 – Istanbul Basaksehir are the sixth Turkish team to play in the Champions League. Only one of the previous five won their first match – that was Trabzonspor, who beat Inter 1-0 away in September 2011.

    14 – RB Leipzig's Hwang Hee-chan created the most chances in open play in the Champions League group stage in 2019-20 (14) when he played for RB Salzburg. He was directly involved in six goals in his six group-stage appearances (three goals, three assists) and was one of two players to both score and assist three goals in the group stage, along with Kylian Mbappe.

     

    Rennes v Krasnodar:

    2 – Rennes have lost just twice at home in major European games, winning five and drawing seven of those 14 matches, all of which were in the UEFA Cup/Europa League between November 2007 and December last year.

    36 – Krasnodar boss Murad Musayev is 36 years and 345 days old, the second-youngest coach in this season's competition (behind Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, 33). He could become the fifth-youngest to win his first game and the youngest since Andre Villas-Boas in September 2011.

     

    Zenit v Club Brugge:

    11 – Artem Dzyuba has been directly involved in 11 goals in his 12 Champions League group-stage matches with Zenit (eight goals, three assists). That run includes goals in both games against Belgian side Gent in 2015-16.

    19 – Of the 51 teams to have featured in at least 40 Champions League matches, only Steaua Bucharest (9.5 per cent), Dinamo Zagreb (11.9 per cent) and Anderlecht (16.7 per cent) have a lower win percentage than Club Brugge (19 per cent). They have won just eight of 42 matches.

  • Rumour Has It: Ibrahimovic set for Milan extension, Dybala to renew at Juventus Rumour Has It: Ibrahimovic set for Milan extension, Dybala to renew at Juventus

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be ready to extend his contract at Milan after a fine start to the season. 

    Ibrahimovic returned to the Serie A club in January, extending his deal in August through until the end of the 2020-21 season. 

    However, the veteran striker could be set to remain at the club for longer, per speculation in Italy.

     

    TOP STORY – IBRAHIMOVIC COULD RENEW AT MILAN UNTIL 2022

    Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola is already studying a plan to extend the striker's deal at Milan until 2022, according to Corriere della Sera.

    The 39-year-old has scored four goals in two Serie A games for league leaders Milan this season, including a brace in the derby win over rivals Inter at the weekend.

    Ibrahimovic netted 10 goals and provided five assists in 18 league appearances in 2019-20.

    ROUND-UP

    - Unhappy about being left on the bench against Crotone, Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus is again a subject of interest. However, Tuttosport reports the aim is still for the playmaker – who is contracted until 2022 – to renew his deal before January.

    - Barcelona could be set for good news. Goal reports Barcelona are working on new deals for Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet after agreeing to a contract with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Meanwhile, AS says Gerard Pique is ready to accept a pay cut.

    - Phil Jones is yet to play for Manchester United this season and could leave in January. The Sun reports United could demand £20million for the defender, who is contracted until 2023.

    - Maurizio Sarri could be set for a return to coaching. CalcioMercato reports the former Juventus and Chelsea boss is a target for Fiorentina amid pressure on Giuseppe Iachini after the club collected just four points from their opening four Serie A games of the season.

    - Out of contract at Marseille at season's end, Florian Thauvin could be set for a move. Le 10 Sport says Milan are interested in the forward.

    - With Virgil van Dijk out due to a serious knee injury, Liverpool could be looking for a defender in January. Football Insider says Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White remains on the Premier League champions' radar.

  • Ibrahimovic has 'shifted the balance more' in Italy than Ronaldo Ibrahimovic has 'shifted the balance more' in Italy than Ronaldo

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had a greater impact on Italian football than Cristiano Ronaldo, according to former Milan and Juventus head coach Alberto Zaccheroni. 

    The 39-year-old has made a considerable impact since rejoining Milan in January, scoring 11 goals in 20 appearances in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign.

    He has been in equally impressive form this season despite missing almost a month after contracting COVID-19, taking his tally to four goals in just two games with a double against Inter at the weekend. 

    One of the best strikers of his generation, Ibrahimovic spent two years with Milan earlier in his distinguished career, a stint that included securing the Serie A title in 2011. 

    Ronaldo, meanwhile, has been just as prolific since he joined Juve from Real Madrid in 2018, scoring 68 goals in 91 appearances across all competitions. 

    Zaccheroni, though, is in no doubt which player has had more influence on Serie A. 

    "I have coached great champions in my career, from [Oliver] Bierhoff to [George] Weah up to Adriano but the only regret I have is that I never trained Ibrahimovic," he told Il Giornale.

    "He is eternal and I still don't understand why he never won the Ballon d'Or.

    "In Italy, he has shifted the balance more than Ronaldo. It is no coincidence that many young players have grown exponentially since his arrival.

    "He doesn't just score. He transmits confidence to all his team-mates, carrying the team on his shoulders in difficult moments."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.