By Tim Stannard/beIN SPORTS USA
Valencia, Betis and Athletic Club recall players on Thursday to begin the first step in LaLiga's hopeful return
Thursday saw more images of our dystopian new normal in sports - chiseled athletes hanging about in training centers wearing masks and protective gloves as if Vogue had merged with PPE Weekly. "The Masked LaLiga" was the declaration from the front cover of Marca on Thursday.
☀️ Egun on!— Athletic Club (@AthleticClub) May 7, 2020
🩺 Los jugadores de la primera plantilla del Athletic Club van llegando uno a uno a Lezama para realizar los exámenes médicos previos al inicio de los entrenamientos.#AthleticClub 🦁 pic.twitter.com/SKP74HcuSC
Athletic Club, Valencia, Betis and Getafe were four more teams that went through a process of recalling their players to undergo COVID-19 tests on Thursday, a step undertaken by Real Madrid and Barcelona amongst others on Wednesday.
Now the waiting game begins with test results returning 48 hours after they are taken, which could allow the formal start of a fortnight of training on an individual basis with small groups allowed out on practice pitches.
While there is cautious optimism of a LaLiga restart, news from a statement released by Copa Libertadores champions, Flamengo, was sobering. The Brazilian team announced that 293 people in its organization were tested, with 38 positives returning including three players. All cases were asymptomatic. Nearly 1,800 have been done so far in the Bundesliga with 10 coming back positive.
LaLiga is beginning a long path to a restart - with masks and gloves as the new must-have athlete accessory.
The Sports Burst live show will bring you all the latest at 12PM ET / 9AM PT on the beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page, Youtube channel and beIN XTRA channel.
Bundesliga set to restart on Saturday 16th May
Having been given the green light on Wednesday from the German government to return, the Bundesliga is not wasting any time by announcing that the league's restart will be on the 16th May in a weekend that will include the local derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund.
The German Football Federation (DFL) leaked to the media on Wednesday that this was the intention. The idea is that the sooner the league starts, the sooner it can end. Indeed, Borussia Moenchengladbach is already beginning to fill its stands with cardboard cutouts of real supporters.
The home stands are filling up nicely though! Over 4,500 cut-outs in place and 12,000+ ordered 😍— Gladbach (@borussia_en) May 6, 2020
The website is now live in English too to give our international fans a chance to order their cut-out for €19.00 via bank transfer! 🐎💚
🇬🇧 https://t.co/TbCsi5ICk3 #DieFohlen pic.twitter.com/uqoznBnlHP
Italy has yet another key day on Thursday in what is turning out to be an increasingly confusing situation in the country.
Although Serie A teams are back in training on a controlled individual basis, the league is meeting with the government on Thursday to agree the health protocols required to go back to training, which they seem to be doing anyway.
Zlatan's number one enemy in soccer is revealed
If Serie A has tentative plans to come back, that means Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be on the move back to Milan?
That's right, with Italian media reporting that the super Swede could be heading from Stockholm to the Italian city before Saturday to begin a two-week period of quarantine.
However, more revelations have been leaking out about the man behind the myth. A grateful world heard exactly who is top of Zlatan's list of enemies - and it's quite the revelation, as it is a player who normally wouldn't say boo to a goose.
It's former PSG colleague, Edinson Cavani. That's according to former LA Galaxy teammate Michael Ciani who was speaking to French radio. "If you are close to Cavani, then Ibra doesn't like you," revealed the retired center-back. "He told me that he only hated three or four teammates in his career...and one of them was Cavani."
Using that theory, Zlatan might well get on handsomely with Neymar, who has had a squabble or two with Cavani in his time at PSG. However a quote from the Uruguayan striker back in 2018 might reveal the reason for Zlatan's ire at his former teammate - "I am a footballing worker — I am not a star," said Cavani.
MLS clubs continue return to training as NBA shares plans with players
Closer to home and MLS should see a total of seven teams back to voluntary individual training by the end of Thursday. Houston Dynamo, Nashville SC and the Portland Timbers are expected to join the four teams that began on Wednesday.
This morning our training ground opened to players for individual workouts following CDC and League guidelines and with help from @OrlandoHealth.— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) May 6, 2020
We’ve got to say, it’s great to be back. #SoccerIsBack pic.twitter.com/rmbAXqC0Pd
Greg Garza of FC Cincinnati will be on the Sports Burst PM show at 7PM ET / 4PM PT to talk about the signs of a return for MLS clubs and how quarantine life has been for him.
The NBA is set to have an open call with all its players on Friday to talk through restart plans which includes some clubs following the MLS model by opening training facilities on a voluntary and restricted basis to players.
MLB is set to make a proposal to its players' union on the league's restart plans which currently center around a return to training in June and a restart in July and it's a big Thursday night for the NFL which is releasing its 2020 schedule.