German clubs resume training amid tight virus restrictions

Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, left, and Bayern’s head coach Hansi Flick during a training session Monday. (EPA)
Short Url
Updated 07 April 2020

German clubs resume training amid tight virus restrictions

  • Germany has seen the number of infected people rise above 100,000 this weekend and nearly 1,600 have died after testing positive for the virus that has forced the country into lockdown

GERMANY: Bundesliga clubs returned to team training on Monday, with players split in small groups or pairs and kept at a safe distance amid strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
German soccer has been suspended for almost a month and the German Football League (DFL) has said the ban will remain in place for the top divisions at least until April 30.
Clubs, however, were given the all clear from their state authorities and the DFL to resume training this week, with champions Bayern Munich deciding to train players in small groups to minimze the risk of infection.
“Obviously all health guidelines are being adhered to,” the club said in a statement.
“Obviously the training is closed to the public. FC Bayern are asking fans to continue following guidelines and please do not come to the team’s training center.”
The Bavarians trained in groups of five but without any contact, just like Borussia Moenchengladbach, VfL Wolfsburg and others.
Bottom club Paderborn also trained in small groups with coach Steffen Baumgart saying it was important for the players to be back on the pitch.
“It is important that players get the ball on their feet again,” Baumgart said. “That is why we have created the training sessions in such a way that ball activities are the focus.”

FASTFACT

• Bundesliga teams train in small groups

• Season is suspended until at least April 30

Weight and fitness sessions will be done individually, he said.
Eintracht Frankfurt trained in pairs.
Germany has seen the number of infected people rise above 100,000 this weekend and nearly 1,600 have died after testing positive for the virus that has forced the country into lockdown.
Despite the training resumption the DFL made it clear last week it was not known if or when the season would resume, and the stop in play has also had major financial effects on clubs.
Two weeks ago Borussia Dortmund, Bayern, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen came together to create a €20 million  ($21.6 million) solidarity fund to help clubs in the top two tiers.
Dortmund have also provided part of their Signal Iduna Park stadium for the treatment of suspected virus cases.


Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

Updated 55 min 40 sec ago

Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

  • Inter reach their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League

MILAN: A record-breaking Romelu Lukaku is leading Inter Milan's chase for their first trophy in 9 years.

Eyebrows were raised last year when Inter shelled out a club record of around €65 million ($73 million) plus €13 million  ($15 million) in bonuses for Lukaku, who had had a disappointing final season at Manchester United.

However, Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.

Inter scored 81 league goals — well above the paltry 57 they managed in the previous campaign.

Lukaku scored again on Monday and set up another to help Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to reach the Europa League semifinals.

“Romelu has never played so well, not even in the past,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

The Belgian forward became the first player to find the net in nine consecutive Europa League games, surpassing the eight set by Alan Shearer for Newcastle in 2005.

Lukaku’s 31st goal of the season took him past the 30-mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was little,” Lukaku said. “I’ve always said that I will give my all for this team.

“We’re a great team; my teammates help me a lot, otherwise I couldn’t do these things and achieve these numbers ... my teammates look for me. We’re doing well together, all of us.”

Inter reached their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League as well as Serie A and the Italian Cup to complete a historic treble.

They retained the Italian Cup the following year but have not managed to lift silverware since.

The Nerazzurri play Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in the semifinals on Monday.

After an intense period of playing matches approximately every three days after soccer restarted following the pandemic-enforced shutdown, Conte has almost a week to prepare his players.

He will want to make sure they understand that profligacy can prove costly at this level.

Inter have often failed to kill off games in which they have  dominated, and that was again the case on Monday when they had opportunities to extend their advantage.

That allowed Leverkusen to stay in the quarterfinal despite having only two shots on target.

“We could have gone through in a more relaxed manner because, despite the fact that we never really had to dig in, the result was close,” Conte said.

“It’s difficult to be annoyed. I can only compliment the lads on their performance. As is the case after every game, we’ll analyze every situation and see where we can improve.”