After the Bundesliga’s successful return, Europe’s plans are taking off… the Premier League could resume contact training this week while LaLiga and Serie A are aiming for mid-June restarts (and Turkey and Denmark are hoping to have fans in stadiums!)
- The Bundesliga’s return to action earlier this month has shown Europe the way
- Premier League is facing a decisive week in the future of Project Restart
- LaLiga are hoping to restart on June 11 with the Seville derby televised
- Serie A is expected to ratify its own return in a meeting this week
- Sportsmail look at the state of play across the major leagues in Europe
After the initial success of the Bundesliga’s return to competitive action in the last two weeks, leagues across Europe are accelerating their own restart plans.
LaLiga announced their intention to restart in mid-June while Serie A is expected to confirm its own resumption date later this week.
This week is also expected to see the Premier League firm up its own Project Restart protocols with contact training possibly by Friday.
The Premier League faces a crucial week as it aims to confirm its return next month
Raheem Sterling involved in a group training session at Manchester City’s Football Academy
West Ham’s Declan Rice has a temperature check as he arrives at the club’s training ground
With seasons in France, Holland, Belgium and Scotland already cancelled, the focus extends further afield.
Portugal’s league is set to return on June 3, Greece on the weekend of June 6-7 and Turkey on June 12, while Denmark’s season is set to resume this Thursday.
Here Sportsmail take a look at the state of play across Europe’s remaining major leagues…
The Premier League’s Project Restart will either hit major obstacles or edge even closer to completion this week as a number of crucial issues will be decided.
No return date has been decided by the league, while a number of players and managers have expressed their concerns.
There have also been a small number – just eight – positive tests across the Premier League in two rounds of checks. Those tests will continue in the coming week, with clubs receiving up to 80 tests to make sure that 40 players and staff can be checked two times a week.
The Premier League is hoping to step up to increased numbers in group training this week
Managers and players will meet Premier League officials on Tuesday to discuss the phase two protocols, which include a return to competitive and contact training.
A vote will be held on Wednesday over a return to contact training and there is a growing feeling that clubs will support it.
That will allow the division to move forward when it comes to planning the fixture list and a likely restart date – thought to be either June 19 or June 26 – as they will have an idea of when teams will carry out full training again.
This next stage would see groups increase to 12 with restricted contact, including tackling. It is likely that clubs will implement infrastructure to allow it on Thursday, so some teams might not train fully until Friday.
Spain took a major step towards a mid-June return to action by allowing group training on Monday.
In the latest phase of the Spanish league’s moves towards a resumption of the season, clubs can train in groups of 14 this week, up from 10 last week, and Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were among those pictured doing so.
The authorities in Spain are gradually lifting lockdown restrictions in a country where nearly 30,000 people have died with Covid-19.
Spain took a major step towards a mid-June return by allowing group training on Monday
Gareth Bale juggles the ball during Real Madrid’s training session on Monday morning
Group training sessions with 14 players are the penultimate phase of the back-to-action process with full squad sessions expected to begin next week.
But this will depend on how the coronavirus pandemic progresses in the coming days. Five players in Spain’s top two divisions tested positive earlier this month.
‘We’ve gone through some very difficult and complicated moments during this pandemic and we don’t want to jump the gun,’ said LaLiga president Javier Tebas on Sunday.
Tebas said the league is expected to return with the derby match between Sevilla and Real Betis on Thursday June 11. All matches will be played without fans in attendance.
Kick-off times will change to take into account the high temperatures of the Spanish summer. For example, the Seville derby will kick-off at 10pm local time (9pm UK).
‘Our plan for kickoff times during the week would be to play in the afternoon or evening, between 7.30-8 pm or 9.30-10 pm,’ he said.
‘Over the weekend, there would be three slots: 5pm, 7.30pm, 9.30 or 10pm.’
Barcelona sit at the top of LaLiga, two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid with 11 games remaining.
Italy’s Serie A is close to confirming a return to action on either June 13 or 20, three months after the season was brought to a halt by the virus.
Italian Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed decisions made regarding league competition will be ratified in a council meeting on May 28.
The Italian Football Federation has decided teams in the country’s top three tiers must complete the 2019-20 season by August 20, with the 2020-21 campaign scheduled to begin on September 1.
Paulo Dybala arrives for training at Juventus wearing a face mask over his mouth and nose
Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juve team-mates could be back in action by mid-June
Teams returned to training earlier this month, with team training beginning just over a week ago.
Earlier this month Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Torino all confirmed positive tests results to coronavirus, but there have been no new cases in the past fortnight.
Serie A are looking at imposing a number of new rules to ensure the return is as safe as possible.
They include a ban on team photos and mascots, a mandatory eight-question form on COVID-19 symptoms for anyone attending games and a possible yellow card for spitting.
Danish football bosses are planning to welcome back fans into their stadiums as their top flight prepares to resume on Thursday..
Although matches will initially be behind closed doors, preparations are being made for the Superliga to follow the lead of theatres and cinemas in the country, which will have capacity reduced to allow for social distancing between guests.
Bringing back supporters is some way down the agenda for the highest-profile European leagues yet in Denmark, they are looking at having crowds again in the near future.
Danish football bosses are planning to welcome back fans into their stadiums in near future
‘We would really like spectators back at stadiums,’ said Claus Thomsen, the chief executive of the Danish Football League. ‘By our assessment we are able to do it in line with how it will be handled in theme parks, theatres or cinemas.’
The League are to issue guidelines on how fans can attend matches while keeping a safe distance from others. Thomsen added: ‘Everything is separate. People won’t come into contact with each other at matches.’
Last month, Superliga leaders FC Midtjylland developed the idea of ‘drive-in’ football, which would involve two big screens showing the game to fans parked in 2,000 spaces. It would also allow up to 10,000 fans to tune into the TV commentary through their car radio.
Midtjylland marketing director Preben Rokkjaer said: ‘We have a stated goal of creating the best stadium experience. Coronavirus does not change that, it just provides some other preconditions.’
Midtjylland are 12 points clear the top of the table and are due to face AC Horsens on Monday in their first game back in action.
Portugal Primeira Liga
Top-flight football in Portugal is set to return in just a week’s time, with two matches scheduled for June 3, including Porto’s trip to FC Famalicao.
Last week nine stadiums passed inspections and were declared ready to host matches, with six more of the 18 in the division requiring improvements.
The government’s DCS health directorate wants the minimum possible number of stadiums used with 10 rounds of matches set to be played out from June 3 to the final day on July 26.
Benfica’s Nuno Tavares undergoes a test ahead of a training session earlier this month
Several clubs including Madeira-based Maritimo and Algarve outfit Portimonense have already complained about not being able to play at their home stadiums, but the league is set to press on regardless.
Unlike other leagues that plan on keeping the structure of a usual season with games played predominantly over the weekend, Portugal’s Primeira Liga will stagger games across most days of the week in order to fit the completion in before August.
Portugal has seen over 30,000 confirmed cases of the virus with 1,330 deaths confirmed by May 25. Players will be required to pass coronavirus tests twice a week.
Earlier this month three players at Vitoria Guimaraes tested positive and it was also reported that three players and two staff members at Famalicao had tested positive – though they did not confirm the results.
The season has turned into a two-horse race between Porto, who lead with 60 points, and Benfica, who are one point behind.
The Segunda Division campaign has already been curtailed, with Nacional and Farense promoted to the top-flight.
Greece Super League
Greek Super League clubs agreed earlier this month to resume the play-offs on weekend of June 6-7.
Its return will come nearly three months after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus – though all players returned negative results.
Clubs returned to socially-distanced training earlier this month before advancing through the protocol stages.
Olympiacos’ players tested negative back in March after their owner tested positive
Ten of the 14 teams in the league were in favour of continuing the league, including league leaders Olympiakos and third-placed AEK Athens.
PAOK Thessaloniki, Panathinaikos, Panetolikos and bottom-side Panionios were against resuming.
Greece has only 2,882 positive tests and 172 confirmed deaths from coronavirus as of May 25.
Olympiacos lead the league with 66 points from 26 games with 10 games left to play in both the championship and relegation play-off divisions.
Turkey Super Lig
Football in Turkey’s top-flight is slated for a June 12 return, and there is even some optimism that an initial resumption behind closed doors will be opened up to fans by July.
But the league has returned positive cases as recently as last week, when BtcTurk Yeni Malatyaspor said that two people, including a player, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Earlier this month Besiktas announced that eight employees had tested positive. There have also been positive cases at MKE Ankaragucu, Kasimpasa, Fenerbahce and Ankaragucu.
Earlier this month Besiktas announced that eight employees had tested positive
Besiktas have installed a gigantic disinfection cabinet at the entrance to their training ground
Sivasspor coach Riza Calimbay has described the touted return date as ‘wrong, very wrong’, and added: ‘The league was suspended when there were only a few cases, now they want to resume when there are thousands. I cannot understand why.’
Turkish FA president Nihat Ozdemir outlined his intentions over the restart earlier this month: ‘Our objective is to complete the campaign, otherwise there will be problems.
‘We want to complete the season on the pitch. Tests will be performed frequently during preparations.
‘If there are cases, we’ll quarantine them and continue on our way. There are countries about to restart where the situation is worse than ours.
‘Our first objective is to play without fans. If things go well, maybe we can play matches with fans in July.’
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