Renan Lodi

La Liga
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Spanish league keeps plan to resume after 5 positive COVID-19 tests

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MADRID — The Spanish league is not changing its plan to resume competing after five players from clubs in the first and second divisions tested positive for COVID-19.

The league confirmed the positive tests on Sunday but said it was not going to alter the practice protocol that got underway last week. Players from most clubs began individual training sessions on Friday after nearly two months of confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league said it will “continue to apply the back-to-training protocol” that was approved by government authorities to “guarantee the maximum safety of all players, coaches and club employees.”

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It said it has “warned” everyone to keep following health safety measures suggested by authorities so the numbers of infected players “remain very low.”

The five players who tested positive for COVID-19 will remain sidelined until they fully recover. They are all without symptoms and recovering from the disease, according to the league. They will be allowed to resume practicing after testing negative in two consecutive tests.

All other players tested negative, the league said. Players, coaches and club employees involved in the training sessions are being tested daily.

The league did not name the players who tested positive. It also didn’t disclose their clubs. Spanish media said three players were from first-division clubs, including Atlético Madrid defender Renan Lodi.

Atlético on Saturday posted a message on an official club social media channel with a picture of the Brazilian and the message: “Renan Lodi says hello from his home. We will see you very soon on the field, Renan!”

He did not practice as the rest of Atlético players resumed their activities on Saturday. None of the players who tested positive reportedly play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Barcelona was among the first teams to resume practicing on Friday. Real Madrid is expected to be back in action on Monday.

Spain this week started loosening some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March because of the pandemic, allowing soccer players to resume training individually at the teams’ base camps.

The league said the players who tested positive must remain in quarantine and continue to train individually at home. The league said it will offer to test the players’ relatives as well.

The league sent clubs a detailed four-stage protocol for the return to practice. The individual training will be followed by smaller group sessions and then full squad sessions.

The league wants a total training period of about a month before it can restart. It recently said it hoped to resume sometime in June with games without fans.

Atletico Madrid takes first leg versus Liverpool

Liverpool
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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Saul Niguez scored in the fourth minute and Atletico Madrid blanked and frustrated Liverpool in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday in Spain.

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Liverpool had 73 percent of the ball but failed to put any of its eight shots on target, including a cherry chance for Mohamed Salah to head home an equalizer.

The sides meet again at 4 p.m. ET March 11 at Anfield.


Three things we learned

1. Mane, Salah struggle: This was a not a banner day for two of the best wingers in the world. Mohamed Salah missed one solid and one excellent chance to score an away goal, and won just 2 of 8 duels. Mane was nearly as poor, taking a silly yellow card before being removed at halftime with a 2 of 9 record in duels.

2. Lodi locks down the left: Atleti’s 21-year-old left back may’ve signed from Brazilian club Athletico Paranaense this summer, but he looks like he’s been in Diego Simeone’s system since he was an academy kid. Lodi recorded six tackles, two clearances, two interceptions, 10-of-12 duels won and a key pass.

3. The bounce goes against Liverpool: So many times this season, the Reds have seemingly willed a decisive bounce in their direction. It’s hard to fault Fabinho for a ball bounding off him and onto the path of Saul, but that’s why this match is 1-0. Just luck.

Man of the Match: Saul and Thomas Partey were terrific in the heart of Atleti’s midfield, and Saul gets our nod given his goal. He was 5-for-5 in dribbles, passed at 85 percent, won 10-of-12 duels, and had three clearances, two interceptions, and two tackles.


Atletico were all over the visitors, and an early corner got them on the board when Saul cleaned up a mess at the near post.

It was the first goal conceded by Liverpool in 379 minutes, according to the broadcast.

The Reds had almost all of the ball but had trouble with Atleti’s disciplined shape, and a Renan Lodi cross was almost enough for Alvaro Morata to make it 2-0.

Virgil Van Dijk‘s failed clearance led to an Alvaro Moarata acute-angled shot, but Alisson Becker dealt with it.

Jan Oblak gave the ball away at the other end and the ball ended up in his net, but Mohamed Salah was offside when Fabinho hit him with a quick pass.

Liverpool had another chance in the 29th minute, but Andy Robertson spun his shot wide of the frame.

Trent Alexander-Arnold served up a couple of unsuccessful corners soon after Salah screwed a quality opportunity well over the goal.

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Atleti was attacking again early in the second half, and a rare Andy Robertson error was bailed out by poor control in the final third.

Salah headed wide when Joe Gomez charged forward to send in a perfect back post cross.

Lodi then set up Morata for a glorious chance near the penalty spot. The ex-Chelsea man flubbed it in spectacular fashion.

Jordan Henderson missed another prime chance to get an away goal, as the Reds’ luck just wasn’t in Madrid.