MADRID (AP) — Two members of Atlético Madrid’s group set to travel to Portugal for the Champions League quarterfinals tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday— the first pandemic-related setback among clubs participating in the final stage of Europe’s top club competition.
The last eight is scheduled to begin in Lisbon on Thursday amid tight health safety protocols to prevent a coronavirus outbreak from derailing the competition’s finale. The semifinals and August 23 final will also be played in Lisbon.
Other clubs involved in the quarterfinals have not reported any positive tests among its players recently.
The Spanish club did not name those who tested positive and did not say if a player was involved. It said both people who were infected had been isolated at their homes.
Atlético, which was expected to travel to Lisbon today, said it immediately informed health authorities in Spain and Portugal about the positive results, as well as UEFA and other football bodies in both countries.
It said in a statement that the entire group that was set to travel will be tested again, and that the team’s schedule is being altered to allow the new tests.
Atlético is set to face Leipzig on Friday in the last eight. The quarterfinals start on Thursday with Atalanta facing Paris Saint-Germain. The other one-game series will involve Barcelona vs Bayern Munich on Friday and Manchester City vs Lyon on Sunday.
The matches will take place at two stadiums in Lisbon.
Earlier this week Atlético had to cancel a friendly of its women’s team after a positive test within the group.
Atlético said that, after the Spanish league season had ended, the club asked for all Spanish teams still involved in European competitions to keep voluntarily following the league’s health safety protocols. It said UEFA only required one negative test from each member of the group within 72 hours of the trip to Lisbon, but the team had been testing its members weekly and was still working with the health safety inspector assigned by the Spanish league.
Atlético said a total of 93 people had been tested the day before the squad returned to training on July 26, and the first team and those in close contact with it were tested with all results coming back negative.
Atlético is seeking its first title in Europe’s most lucrative club competition. It lost the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals to city rival Real Madrid. It was also runner-up in 1974, losing to Bayern Munich. Diego Simeones team was eliminated by Juventus in the round of 16 last season.