By Tim Stannard
Atletico Madrid blighted by more disappointing draws that a blindfolded portrait painter
If almost half of the results for the league season being draws aren't indication enough that Atletico Madrid are not exactly firing on all cylinders, then the fact that the team is being outscored by Osasuna, today's opponents, should do the job.
That's not good.
And this is a team with Alvaro Morata, Diego Costa and Joao Felix available up front as well as some sprightly creative midfielders. However a run of four draws in the past five matches alone (13 for the season) sees Atletico Madrid in sixth, 18 points from the top of the table, but just one from the Champions League places, at least.
A victory against Osasuna today in LaLiga's stand-out affair will move the team into that zone, but that result is certainly not a given for Atletico.
So, an awful lot is riding on Joao Felix today, a player who was suspended in Atletico's restart game - a draw against Athletic Club - but there are hopes from Diego Simeone that the Portuguese player, who cost $138 million last summer in the fifth most expensive deal of all time, will come good.
Atletico's Argentinian coach blames injuries for hampering the progress of the 20-year-old Felix so far this season - "he is young, it's normal that something like this can happen during the season, but we hope he can be decisive and important for the team from here to the end of LaLiga."
Coverage of Osasuna against Atletico Madrid gets underway on beIN SPORTS at 3:30PM ET / 12:30PM PT preceded by the relegation battle between Valladolid and the still struggling Celta Vigo. Our Spanish sister channel will bring you the Basque derby between Eibar and Athletic.
But before all that, the Sports Burst live show will bring you everything you need to know. Just head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET / 9AM PT and also the beIN XTRA channel.
EPL returns with a reminder of COVID-19's impact
After a fairly complicated path, the Premier League returns on Wednesday after 100 days away.
It's a sense of happiness and relief for the fans of the league, but Wednesday's two opening games are a very real reflection on the devastation caused by the COVID-19 virus. Three coaches involved in the day's games have been personally affected by the illness.
Manchester City are taking on Arsenal in the day's second game. City coach, Pep Guardiola lost his 82-year-old mother to COVID-19 at the beginning of April. Speaking ahead of today's match Guardiola said that he appreciated the distraction of soccer's return in England. “I’m happy to come back to this routine. I live personally what everyone else lives. All the people we lost are important. We have families to stay strong with all of us."
Football returns today, let’s work together for a better and more equal future. pic.twitter.com/RW6J0387Uc— Manchester City (@ManCity) June 17, 2020
Mikel Arteta, on the opposite bench caught the COVID-19 illness which very much a wake-up call in the UK to the dangers of the disease and said that the right decision was made to suspend the league. "I love this game but we have bigger responsibilities. I think we made the right call," said the Arsenal boss ahead of a match that was suspended due to his positive diagnosis.
Wednesday's second match, but the day's opener, has Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United. Villa's coach, Dean Smith, lost his father to COVID-19 three weeks ago.
"He is probably in a better place now because he hadn't been well for a long time so it was one of those things you have to deal with,' said Smith, whose father was both a Villa fan and club steward.
Gattuso fumes at lackadaisical Lozano
Wednesday is a busy one across Europe. The Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Juventus is taking place in Rome. One player who is unlikely to be involved is Hirving Lozano, a player who was kicked out of training on Tuesday by an irate Napoli coach, Gennaro Gattuso.
"Everyone knows that if they step onto the field with me, they have to go at full speed. I won’t allow anyone to ruin a training session," growled Gattuso.
Get some Vitamin D ☀️ pic.twitter.com/Y86OHwZj3b— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 15, 2020
Maurizio Sarri was also a grumpy-head and responded to those who ask whether he was looking forward to the chance of winning silverware in Italy for the first time. "It pisses me off when I hear people saying I won nothing in Italy. I won promotions from one league to the other, all of them on the pitch," yelled the Juventus coach.
In Germany, Bayern Munich have wrapped up the team's eighth Bundesliga title in the row, but the league still carries on regardless with Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig both in action and looking to secure top four spots.
NBA issues 100-page plan for restarting season
Going Stateside now and the NBA took a step closer to its return with a 100-page plan of how the Orlando Bubble of Isolation concept was going to work being sent to the participating teams.
The document details the procedures of a player testing positive - isolation in a different location to the teammates and further testing - and the ability for athletes seen as more vulnerable to the effects of catching the virus being able to opt out of the restart without losing pay.
Each team will be allowed parties of up to 37 including players and support staff and while no-one will be prevented from leaving the bubble, anyone re-entering will be forced to go through a 14-day quarantine period.
Sprinting world champion, Christian Coleman, given provisional suspension
American sprinter, Christian Coleman, has been provisionally suspended after missing a third drugs test in a 12-month period. The reigning World Champion registered what is called a 'whereabouts failure' on December 9.
Athletes are required to give times and locations of where they will be each day to be available for testing. Coleman was shopping at a mall when required to give a test rather than at home but said he was "just five minutes away."
"I have never and will never use performance enhancing supplements or drugs," said Colemon on social media. I am willing to take a drug test every single day for the rest of my career for all I care to prove my innocence."