THE Bundesliga is back this weekend, and talks are continuing for the Premier League’s comeback.
The first step towards that restart could be taken on Monday when English top flight clubs are set to vote on a return to non-contact training.
Follow all the latest coronavirus in sport updates below, underneath our quick poll…
HOME SWEET HOME
Steffen Freund welcomes the return of the Bundesliga on Saturday — and believes that teams playing on their home grounds ensures the competition is fair.
Germany will become the first European nation to restart during the coronavirus crisis with all the games behind closed doors but — unlike the Premier League — there was NEVER any discussion about playing at neutral venues.
Freund, 50, the ex-Spurs star who played for both Dortmund and Schalke and now a leading TV pundit in Germany, said: “It is very important for all of us who love football to see the teams play again.
“I am not saying the German way is the right way. But I definitely think having the games home and away is the most fair.
“I hope our fans are sensible and do not go near the stadiums.
“If the concept in Germany does not work, another step might be to have the teams together at neutral venues like they’ve already thought about in England.
“But I hope we can complete the season by the end of June and I’m looking forward to Dortmund v Schalke. This is such a big game. In England you don’t use this term but in Germany, we call matches with no fans ghost games. We will have to live with ghost games as there is no alternative.
“In March, before the Bundesliga was suspended, Monchengladbach v Cologne was the first one. I was co-commentating, so I was in the stadium and it wasn’t really exciting.
“But I think that you will still get some good matches over the coming weeks.
“At first, it will seem strange but people have to realise this is the only way to keep the clubs up and running — and after four or five matches you’ll really begin to enjoy it.”
Premier League clubs are set to vote on the first stage of Project Restart on Monday.
However, this vote will cover a return to training in small groups of five and nothing else.
14 clubs will be required to vote in favour for training to resume in groups of more than two people.
Premier League stars are worried their careers could be ended — if they contract Covid-19.
That is why top-flight captains are demanding more assurances that matches will be safe to play before they return.
Players will have to follow a new set of medical and social-distancing protocols when they get back to training next week.
But Norwich skipper Grant Hanley said: “I think 100 per cent of players want to get back to football but it needs to be at the right time, when everybody feels safe.
“If a player DID contract the virus and was ill with it, would that affect his long-term career? Is it going to have an impact on their livelihood?
“Going back to training is not the issue, it’s what will happen beyond that.
“Where do we go from there in terms of contact training and games?
“The period we’ve had off is going to be longer than any summer break and then we’re trying to squeeze in a couple of weeks of full training.
“I think injuries are going to go through the roof, especially at a time when we are going to be restricted on how much we can use the physios and recovery methods, in terms of ice baths.
“Everyone’s situation is different. Some players may be going into the last year of their contracts and thinking it’s a massive risk, at their age, in terms of injuries.
“Some lads need 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half every day just to train.
“One of the new protocols is we can only arrive 15 minutes before training. Some lads are not going to be able to get by on that.”
Gareth Bale was among the stars who reported for training at Real Madrid this afternoon.
He and the rest of Zinedine Zidane’s squad were at the club’s training ground in Valdebebas for medical testing as preparation to resume La Liga continues to step up.
Over in Spain, Villarreal’s players have undergone medical tests in preparation for a return to training.
They are still awaiting to discover when the LaLiga campaign will get restarted.
England’s cricketers will begin individual training next week in the first step to returning to action following the coronavirus suspension.
Bowlers will have staggered sessions at various country grounds with a coach, physio and where possible a strength and conditioning coach.
The other players will return to practice two weeks later.
“These are very tentative steps to returning to play,” said England director of cricket Ashley Giles.
There will be no cricket in England or Wales until at least July 1, after a suspension which saw the postponement of the Test series against the West Indies which was scheduled for June.
KEAN TO LEARN
Moise Kean did not realise he was breaking lockdown guidelines when he hosted a raunchy party at his home.
The Everton star caused a stir when he shared footage of several models lap dancing at his Cheshire apartment.
But a source close to Everton told The Athletic: “Because of his big, powerful physique, it’s easy to think Moise is grown up.
“He probably looks older than he is. But his mind is still that of a 20-year-old.
“He’s a young man who still wants to please his mum and repay the sacrifices she made for him.
“Of course, what Moise did was wrong – there’s no denying that and he accepts it, apologised and has been punished for it.
“But it’s not just footballers who have found it tough to abide by the lockdown rules.
“Moise is a 20-year-old who is still growing up and this is a harsh life lesson for him.
“He did something wrong, he has been fined for his actions, and will learn from this.”
‘FURTHER BEHIND THAN BEFORE’
Dynamo Dresden star Alexander Jeremejeff has issued a warning to the Premier League regarding Project Restart.
He and his team-mates were forced into quarantine just days before the Bundesliga’s return this weekend.
Two of his team-mates tested positive for Covid-19, meaning the second division outfit are unable to play Hannover tomorrow.
Jeremejeff said: “When the decision from the top came that we could train and the games were about to start, we gathered the whole team and started normal sessions.
“We only did this for two days and then we had to go to this quarantine for two weeks.
“There was a lot of joy in the beginning as we started to train as a team, you see your friends and everything is as normal and then two days later you are inside your own house and you cannot even go outside, so it’s a little bit crazy.
“We are even further behind than before. When we were in quarantine earlier in the year, we could leave the house, go for a walk, buy food. At the moment we cannot do anything, we just have to stay at home. This is a new step.
“We have been doing exercise with the whole squad on Zoom. We do a videoconference, you watch the fitness trainer and copy his movements. It’s a little bit strange.”
Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus says the return of the Bundesliga tomorrow after a two-month break because of the coronavirus does not signal the return of normality.
German’s top-flight becomes the first of Europe’s top five leagues to restart its campaign with matches behind closed doors.
And the Dortmund star, who could line-up against Schalke, told El Pais: “I don’t think we can speak about normality and I don’t think we should either.
“We are hoping to save an industry that employs 55,000 people, but the supporters at home will know we still haven’t defeated the coronavirus and that we are far from normality.
“We cannot be complacent now. We all need to listen to the recommendations of the doctors and the politicians. We cannot be more clear about that. But if football can bring a bit of variety to people’s living rooms, then I’ll be happy.”
As life in lockdown reaches its two-month mark, many people are feeling the boredom of being stuck at home.
And the Ronaldo household appears to be no different, with girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez taking to dressing their bald little cat up as a baby just to stay entertained.
The 26-year-old, alongside Cristiano and the kids, has recently returned to Turin after nearly two months holed up on her boyfriend’s home island of Madeira.
And while the Juventus No7 is hard at work getting ready for the eventual proposed return of Serie A, Georgina has been finding novel ways of numbing the monotony of life in lockdown.
She posted a picture on Instagram of the little tabby wearing what appeared to be a baby’s outfit, topped off with a blue hat.
Two-year-old son Mateo is seen giving the pet a little kiss, while also clutching a doll.
The cat doesn’t look particularly impressed, however, seeming to wear a scowl at the whole experience.
That didn’t stop Georgina posting the snap, accompanied by the caption “Baby Girl” and a heart emoji.
The Premier League has been ordered to show some matches on TV and YouTube for free when the season restarts.
Matches will be held behind closed doors once it returns next month, meaning fans will not be able to watch their teams live in action at stadiums.
As a result, the government has demanded some Premier League matches are made available for free so all supporters cooped up at home can enjoy some normality again.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The government is opening the doors for competitive football to return safely in June.
“This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.
“It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans, and there is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.
“The government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action.”
Live Premier League games are currently shown on Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Schalke’s on-loan Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny insists he is “not scared” to return tomorrow to the pitch.
The star will line-up against the Bundesliga clubs local rivals Dortmund behind-closed-doors as the German top-flight resumes the campaign following the suspension due to the coronavirus.
And the England U21 international is chomping at the bit, telling talkSPORT: “I don’t think they [the government and football authorities] would put us in a position to go out there and play against other teams if our lives were at risk.
“As a club we’ve done everything we can to stick to the guidelines – all of the staff and team have done that. We’re getting our rewards now with the season carrying on.
“In the game you will be having contact and during the games there will be a lot of rules that you’ve got to stick to, so if you don’t stick to them there is always a chance the league will get stopped again.”
Here are the Bundesliga fixtures for this weekend.
Looks like it’ll be a belter.
Remember we’ll have wall-to-wall coverage (even of Dortmund’s empty ‘wall’) right here on SunSport.
LEAGUE TWO KO
League Two clubs have decided unanimously to END their season.
The 24 outfits decided to stop the campaign now rather than pick up a massive bill to play out the final games.
The EFL held a ring-round on Friday and all of the clubs opted to hang up their boots.
So Crewe, Swindon and Plymouth will be promoted in the automatic slots and there will be a promotion play-off – as we revealed.
There will be a final shoot-out, with a decision to come on whether those will be over one or two legs.
And the venue for the final is to be decided.
Portugal’s professional soccer league is due to restart on June 4 after the coronavirus stoppage but the question of which stadiums should host matches is threatening to become a bone of contention.
The government’s health directorate (DGS) has said in its medical guidelines that as few stadiums as possible should be used to complete the season, although it did not stipulate a number, and the Portuguese league began inspections on Thursday.
It quickly became clear that teams were determined to play in their own stadiums even though home advantage may count for little as all matches will be without spectators.
Madeira-based side Maritimo were the most outspoken and the club’s football director Nuno Pereira said they would launch a legal challenge if they were not allowed to play in their own Barreiros stadium.
He told RTP television: “Our stadium meets all the requirements, it is one of the most modern in Portuguese football
“There are not many COVID-19 cases in Madeira, the situation is under control.”
HE CAN STAND THE ETH
Wales manager Ryan Giggs has backed Ethan Ampadu to be a top player.
The Manchester United legend has had more contact with the Chelsea youngster than Frank Lampard has, while he is on loan at RB Leipzig.
Giggs told the Athletic: “He can be anything. He is an old-school player. If he’s got a knock, he wants to play. ‘I don’t care, keep me on.’
“He’s that sort of character.
“And also off the pitch, he leads on that younger table.
“He is a quality player. What’s hampered him is the growing pains he’s had, and his game time.”
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
The League One meeting today concluded with no definitive agreement between the clubs on ending the season now amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports PA.
The 23 clubs gathered via conference call at 9.30am this morning for their weekly meeting, but were unable to come to a united position and will convene again early next week.
Six third-tier clubs – Fleetwood, Ipswich, Oxford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, and Sunderland – said on Thursday that they were opposed to ending the season now on a points-per-game basis.
Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony tweeted on Thursday evening: “We as a collective are United in our goal to finish this season.
“We have no desire for voiding the season, PPG scenarios/letting a computer decide our footballing fate.
“For our fans/staff and for the integrity of our sport we are all looking forward to completing our pending fixtures/season under guidance from the EFL at a time it is deemed safe to do so. Thank you for your time.”
PICK OF THE BUNCH
Here is how we think Tottenham and Manchester United could line up when they return to football.
TAKE THE LEAD
England captain Harry Kane says players are awaiting safety guidance from the Premier League before making their minds up about a possible return to competitive action next month.
He told Good Morning Britain: “I don’t think anyone knows the right answer at the moment. I think the majority of players are looking forward to playing again as soon as possible but we know we want it to be as safe as possible too.
“From what I have heard – obviously I haven’t seen too much of my team-mates – at the moment everyone is OK.
“We want to see how the Premier League gives us a plan and what that looks like. I guess we just go from there.
“Me personally, I am happy to start training in small groups if that is allowed and just trying to get back to some normality as soon as possible. I guess everyone is different and has their own personal view.”
KNOW IT ALL
Jurgen Klopp has joked that Gary Neville’s opinions stretch to “absolutely everything”.
The Champions League-winning Liverpool coach told the BBC: “I didn’t learn a lot during lockdown except Gary Neville has an opinion about absolutely everything! It’s incredible!
“So no, I didn’t learn a lot but I have known myself for 52 years.
“I know I can deal with difficult situations before and this is a difficult situation not only for me and my family but for everybody on this planet.
“I am quite proud of how we as a society are dealing with it.
“We as human beings are not perfect so we make mistakes but I think we have understood a lot more of how we are all connected to each other. That is something good.”
Tyson Fury has revealed he is bringing out a new book to reveal the secrets of his weight loss and battle back from depression.
He tweeted: “It’s been an amazing comeback over the last 2 years.
“Exercise and working out got me through my tough times. Now I’ve written a new book to share my fitness, diet and mental health tips.”
It’s been an amazing comeback over the last 2 years. Exercise and working out got me through my tough times. Now I’ve written a new book to share my fitness, diet and mental health tips. I hope you enjoy! Preorder a signed copy at @waterstones https://t.co/oioAqDW4BE God bless x pic.twitter.com/mqWNwjQNGL
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) May 15, 2020
Sky Sports are offering fans in Germany the chance to watch Bundesliga matches with fake crowd noises – but most in the nation don’t even want football back.
The German top-flight returns this weekend behind closed doors following the coronavirus lockdown.
And supporters in the eaton are being given the chance to watch the return of football either with the live audio of an empty stadium or fake, personalised fan reaction.
The option is only available to viewers in Germany, with the Bundesliga being broadcast on BT Sport in the UK.
A Sky statement revealed “a freely selectable new alternative audio track with a recorded stadium atmosphere” will be available for all matches.
It continued: “In addition to the live commentary, it also plays back fan chants for the participating teams and crowd reactions to the match.”
The organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the first in history to be postponed, said on Friday they were not aware of detailed spending allocations for £655million committed to next year’s rescheduled Games by the IOC, reports Reuters.
Such knowledge is critical as the total costs of the Games, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, remain unknown, with Japan’s government and the Tokyo 2020 organisers still assessing how to share the costs.
Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the organising committee, told an online briefing: “We, in the organising committee ourselves, have no idea about how this money will be spent.
“As to the breakdown…I also understand that the IOC has stated it is too soon and too early to tell.”
Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins has surprised fans by sharing a picture of himself in a 1990s Rangers shirt, holding a cigarette.
The former Team Sky star, who was Britan’s golden boy in 2012, won the Yellow Jersey, as well as Olympic gold in the individual time trial.
He tweeted: Groundhog Day lockdown
Troy Deeney has blasted the plans for Project Restart.
Watford’s outspoken skipper has been a key figure in talks among Premier League stars.
And he insists he will not put a return to action before his family’s health — even if it means going broke.
Deeney was one of senior Prem players briefed by medical experts on Covid-19 risks during a conference call on Wednesday.
He said: “If I feel that I’m not looking after my family then I’m not going to do it. I am not going to put my family at risk.
“What are they going to do, take money off me? I’ve been broke before so it doesn’t bother me.”
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