Barcelona, Bayern hamstrung by more virus cases
Pedri González and Ferran Torres joined Barcelona’s list of players with COVID-19 on Monday, while German clubs’ preparations for the Bundesliga’s resumption after the winter break are being hampered by infections.
Torres tested positive hours after his official presentation in front of several thousand fans at Camp Nou following his transfer from Manchester City. Barcelona said the forward and Pedri “are in good health” and isolating at home.
Pedri was hoping to return to the field soon after having recovered from a leg injury that has sidelined the Spain midfielder since September.
Torres is recovering from a foot injury in October and hoped to be ready to face Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semifinals next week.
Barcelona is still without Gavi Páez, Ousmane Dembele, Sergiño Dest, Philippe Coutinho, and Abde Ezzalzouli due to infections. Jordi Alba and Dani Alves returned to training on Monday after testing negative following their isolations.
Xavi Hernández called up 10 reserve team players to travel with his squad on Sunday for the 1-0 win at Mallorca.
Of the Bundesliga’s 18 clubs, 13 have reported infections.
Defending champion Bayern Munich is among the worst affected. Monday’s training session was put back until the late afternoon so players and coaching staff could be tested upon their return.
The team’s return was already delayed by a day after the Bavarian club reported five infections: Captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, players Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso and Omar Richards, as well as assistant coach Dino Toppmöller, all tested positive.
It’s unclear if the five have the omicron variant and whether they will miss Bayern’s game against Borussia Mönchengladbach to resume the league on Friday. Neuer, who said he was suffering from light symptoms, will miss the match.
Gladbach reported four virus cases: Joe Scally, Mamadou Doucouré, Denis Zakaria and Keanan Bennetts, all in quarantine.
“All four players are doing well,” Gladbach said.
Stuttgart has four players in isolation ahead of its visit to last-placed Greuther Fürth on Saturday: Silas Katompa Mvumpa, Naouirou Ahamada, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Mateo Klimowicz.
Borussia Dortmund will likely have to do without the infected Dan-Axel Zagadou for its game at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Frankfurt has two players in quarantine.
Both Berlin clubs were also affected by positive test results. Hertha Berlin new signing Fredrik André Björkan was among its players in quarantine.
Tottenham has more COVID-19 concerns ahead of the first leg against Chelsea in the English League Cup semifinals.
Spurs had an outbreak that affected nine first-team players in December, and manager Antonio Conte said on Monday there were more issues in the squad.
“We are checking a couple of situations. We’ll see,” said Conte, who didn’t disclose the name of the players affected.
The game was being played on Wednesday at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and the club was awaiting the results of PCR tests.
It comes as the Premier League saw its first week-on-week decrease in COVID-19 cases in eight weeks, with 94 players or club staff testing positive from 14,250 checks last week.
Ciaran Fahey reported from Berlin and Joseph Wilson from Barcelona, Spain.
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