Llorente is 2nd Spanish player with COVID-19 ahead of Euros


MADRID — Diego Llorente has become the second Spain player infected with the coronavirus ahead of the European Championship.

The Spanish soccer federation said Llorente tested positive on Tuesday and was put into isolation, two days after captain Sergio Busquets had to leave the team’s training camp because of the virus.

No other player had tested positive, the federation said.

Llorente’s positive result was made public not long after Spain’s under-21 squad beat Lithuania 4-0 on Tuesday in Madrid in a match that was supposed to be played by the senior team as its final warm-up before “La Roja” opened its Euro 2020 campaign against Sweden on Monday in Seville.

The Spanish federation did not say whether Busquets or Llorente would be cut from the squad, but coach Luis Enrique has already called up six plays to practice separately at the team’s training camp. He has until Saturday to make changes to his initial list in case of injuries or COVID-19 cases.

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and defender Raúl Albiol were expected to begin training in the separate bubble on Wednesday, joining Rodrigo Moreno, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler and Brais Méndez, who all arrived earlier in the week.

Personalized training routines would continue for players in the main squad, observing COVID-19 protocols.

Players who test positive must stay in isolation for at least 10 days, meaning both Busquets and Llorente will miss the opener against Sweden. It would also be unlikely they would be fit for Spain’s second match against Poland on June 19. The team’s final Group E match will be against Slovakia on June 23, also in Seville.

Spanish media said the national team players could be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming days. There had been some criticism for the delay in getting players vaccinated, contrary to what happened to the Spanish athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

There was also criticism for possibly allowing the soccer players to be vaccinated before other Spaniards who were in line for the coronavirus vaccine.

Two Sweden players also tested positive for COVID-19 — Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski and Bologna midfielder Mattias Svanberg.

The Euros begin Friday when Italy hosts Turkey.

Spain beat Lithuania with a squad in which 19 of the 20 players called up had never played for the senior national team. The friendly counted as a first-team match, with players getting caps and an official debut for coach Luis de la Fuente with the main squad.

De la Fuente named 10 rookies plus Bryan Gil in the starting lineup. The last time Spain had 10 players on debut for a senior international was in 1941, against Portugal, after the team had not played since Spain’s Civil War broke out in 1936.

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