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Barca return to training as La Liga eyes restart


Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona returned to training on Friday after the La Liga champions allowed their stars to enter their facility to prepare for a potential restart to football in Spain.

Lionel Messi and company took the fields at Joan Gamper training centre for individual sessions, for which the players arrived alone in kit and took to the three pitches without passing through the changing rooms.

As well as doing their routines, they were also subjected to tests to see what effect two months of coronavirus quarantine has had on their bodies.

“Finally we are getting back to normal. We hope to carry on and that soon we can get back to enjoying what we like to do most,” Arturo Vidal told sports daily Marca.

Sevilla, Villarreal, Osasuna and Leganes also returned to training, while Real Madrid — who were two points behind league leaders Barca when play stopped in mid-March — will likely start again on Monday should their players pass virus tests carried out on Wednesday.

That would mark almost two months since Real had been placed in quarantine following a positive test for a member of the club’s basketball team.

According to Spanish media, none of Real’s players have suffered from virus symptoms, but Zinedine Zidane will have to do without Serb attacker Luka Jovic after Real announced on Friday he had fracture his right heel.

Footballers in Spain have restarted training following the announcement last week of government plan that aims to end quarantine for professional players.

Individual training sessions are the first step to what La Liga hopes will be a return to action in June that will complete the 2019-20 season behind closed doors.

The first aspect of a four-phase de-escalation programme allows a maximum of six players on the pitch at any one time.

La Liga’s programme will then permit training in small groups before a return to larger team sessions.    

In the fourth and final phase, in early June, the government has said outside events can go ahead when attended by fewer than 400 people. 

League president Javier Tebas has said “it is not an option” to cancel the season given the economic fallout, estimating it would cost clubs around a billion euros ($1.08 billion).

On Thursday, Leganes coach Javier Aguirre said La Liga will resume on June 20 and end on July 26, although league bosses refused to confirm his claim they had told him the dates.

“La Liga has just informed me officially and I am very happy about that because we have now scheduled the training sessions,” Aguirre told Marca Claro.

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