Brighton player gets coronavirus ahead of EPL restart call

General view outside the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, Britain. (REUTERS File Photo)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Brighton player gets coronavirus ahead of EPL restart call

  • Brighton says it now has three players infected with the coronavirus
  • The first one was diagnosed March when the league was suspended

LONDON: A Brighton player tested positive for the coronavirus as Premier League clubs prepare for talks on Monday about how to resume the competition during the pandemic.

The southern England club told The Associated Press there is no need for other members of the squad or coaches to self-isolate because players have only worked in isolation when at the
training base.

Brighton said three players have now had the coronavirus, having announced the first diagnosis in March when the league was suspended. The players have not been named.

“Despite all of the measures that we’ve been taking over the past few weeks, where the players haven’t been involved in any significant training at all, we’ve still suffered another player testing positive for the virus,” Brighton chief executive Paul Barber told broadcaster Sky Sports on Sunday.

Clubs are yet to resume group training as they abide by government social distancing regulations.

BACKGROUND

Brighton have opposed plans to have to complete the season in neutral stadiums rather than being able to play their five remaining home games at their stadium.

The Premier League has government support for “Project Restart” and it will be trying to secure agreement among the 20 clubs on the plans during a conference call with them on Monday.

“The safety of players and staff is top of that list, everyone’s working hard to minimize risk for those groups,” Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth said. “Then there’s a series of things: Where will the games be played? When can we start? When can the players train to make sure they’re not at risk of injury? How will the games be aired?

“The most important thing is safety, then you can look at the whole thing and discuss how it can all look, it’s about putting together the pieces of the jigsaw once we have a better idea of what the plan looks like.”

Brighton have opposed plans to have to complete the season in neutral stadiums rather than being able to play its five remaining home games at its stadium. Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury said at least six of the league’s 20 clubs are concerned about the use of up to 10 neutral venues, despite police saying that is the only safe way of completing the season.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has been a rare public voice from within the Premier League coming out in support of the plan that envisages playing games again in June.

“There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” Parish told the BBC. ”(The meeting) is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back.

“It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.