Update: the state of play, Monday 15 June 2020

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Juventus draw with AC Milan behind closed doors to win a place in the Coppa Italia final

Top-flight football returns in England, Spain and Italy joining Germany as Covid-19 relaxes its grip in Europe. Here is our update on the state of play for major sports as they grapple with rescheduling events after the pandemic enforced a shutdown in March.

Football

In England, Norwich City confirmed one of their players had tested positive for Covid-19, one of two positive results in the latest round of testing ahead of the Premier League’s restart on Wedmesday, 17 June. The league said on Saturday that two people from different clubs had tested positive for the coronavirus out of a sample of 1,200 individuals. Norwich said the player would self-isolate for seven days before being tested again. The results continue a trend of low positive results since the return to training last month. The league will return to action on Wednesday – its first games since March – with Aston Villa facing Sheffield United and Manchester City taking on Arsenal. Norwich will resume their campaign against Southampton on Friday. Runaway leaders Liverpool resume their campaign with a local derby at Everton on Sunday which Sky Sports will make available “free to air” along with 24 other games during the remainder of the season. Here’s the full breakdown of the restart programme: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11661/11996682/premier-league-restart-kick-offs-and-sky-sports-matches-announced In Scotland, Celtic were confirmed as Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row and Hearts have been relegated after the SPFL ended the season.The 12 clubs agreed that completing the campaign was unfeasible. Celtic were leading arch rivals Rangers by 13 points.

In Germany, champions-elect Bayern Munich snatched a late winner to see off Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 on Saturday and move to within one win of another Bundesliga title. Bayern were far from their best but Leon Goretzka nipped in to poke home the winner four minutes from time. Hansi Flick’s side will win the title for a record 30th time if they beat Werder Bremen on Tuesday. Second-placed Borussia Dortmund’s stoppage-time winner at Dusseldorf earlier on Saturday meant that the title could not be secured this weekend. Erling Braut Haaland’s remarkable season continued as he came off the bench to score a 95th-minute winner. The 19-year-old came up with his 11th league goal in 12 appearances with a deft flicked header.

In Spain, Barcelona scored 66 seconds into their return to action as Lionel Messi completed a comfortable 4-0 win at Mallorca in La Liga. Arturo Vidal headed the opener and

Lionel Messi scores Barcelona’s fourth goal

former Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite added his first for the club before the break. Luis Suarez came off the bench to make his first appearance since early January and Jordi Alba made it 3-0. Superstar Messi scored his 20th league goal of the season in injury time. Arch rivals Real Madrid remained two points behind the defending champions with a 3-1 victory over Eibar on Sunday night. Real strode to a 3-0 half-time lead in unusual surroundings at their training ground, the Estadio di Stefano, while the Bernabau Stadium is being renovated.  But the hosts faded badly in the second half.

In Italy, Dries Mertens became Napoli’s record scorer on the restart of the Italian season as  his goal edged out Inter Milan and sent the five-time winners into this Wednesday’s Coppa Italia final against Juventus who earlier drew 0-0 at home against AC Milan. Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Napoli’s advantage was quickly wiped out when Christian Eriksen scored direct from a corner. Belgium forward Mertens made it 2-1 on aggregate after an assist from Lorenzo Insigne following a counter-attack. Thirteen-time winners Juventus reached the final on the away goals rule after drawing 1-1 in Milan on 13 February, Juve could not find the net in a semi-final played behind closed doors in Turin. Serie A will return on 20 June.

In France, the courts rejected appeals by Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse over the decision of the French football league (LFP) to end its season The season was called off by the government with defending champions Paris Saint Germain awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille. Lyon had said they would try to claim damages after being denied a European spot. Amiens and Toulouse were relegated.

On the European stage, the governing body UEFA says it has a concrete plan for finishing the European season in August with the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League likely to be played in that month. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are expected to be played over two legs. Euro 2020, Europe’s flagship tournament, has already been postponed and would be held from 11 June to July 11, 2021.

Golf

Collin Morikawa missed a 1m putt to hand fellow American Daniel Berger victory afer the first PGA Tour event in three months finished in a play-off in Texas. An eerie silence followed the miss as professional golf returned behind closed doors at Colonial Country Club. England’s Justin Rose finished on 14 under par, one shot outside the play-off. He missed a 6m birdie putt on the 18th as he posted a four-under-par 66. Rose’s solid round was in complete contrast to world No.1 Rory McIlroy,

Collin Morikawa (right) congratulates Daniel Berger after the play-off in the Charles Schwab Challenge

who also started on Sunday three shots off the lead on 10 under. The Northern Irishman dropped six shots in his opening nine holes before rallying a little on the back nine to card a four-over 74 and and finish on six under. The Charles Schwab Challenge was the first of five PGA Tour events taking place behind closed doors in the US. The 27-year-old Berger was one of the hottest golfers on the PGA Tour before action was halted in March with top-10 finishes in his three starts prior to this week. He carded a four-under-par 66 to reach 15 under for the week and go into the playoff against Morikawa.

Formula One

Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan joined the list of Formula One Grands Prix cancelled on Friday but organisers said they were still aiming for a reduced season of 15-18 races. The sport had already cancelled four races, including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May, with a revised and shortened provisional European schedule set to start in Austria without spectators on 5 July. The announcement blew a hole in the long-haul part of the season, with questions about the schedule after Italy’s Monza on 6 September.  Races in Canada, Mexico, Texas and Brazil are uncertain while Vietnam, also a street circuit, and China remain possibilities and Russia could host two races at Sochi. The championship is due to end in Abu Dhabi in December after visiting Bahrain, which could host two races around different layouts. Meanwhile, six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton said it was good to know he could still drive after returning to the track in an F1 car for the first time in more than 100 days at Silverstone last Wednesday. A day after his team-mate Valtteri Bottas returned to action in dry conditions, Hamilton put his title-winning 2018 Mercedes W09 car through its paces on a greasy track after early showers. The team is practising protocols for the Austrian Grand Prix which will serve as the season opener.

Motor Sports

Motorcycling’s  premier competition,  the MotoGP, has announced a revised  calendar for 2020 consisting of a minimum of 13 races, and a maximum of 17, with the season to start on 19 July. Seven of the races will be held in Spain, including the first two at Jerez, with one in Barcelona, two at Aragon and another two in Valencia. There will be two races in Austria, two in Italy and one apiece in the Czech Republic and France. The season had been originally due to start in Qatar on 8 March. However, that race has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, along with events in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Japan and Australia. Last month it was announced that the British Moto GP, due to be held at Silverstone from 28-30 August, would not take place and it has not been included in the revised calendar. As well as the 13 scheduled races, there could also be a further four – in the United States, Argentina, Thailand and Malaysia – and a decision will be made whether they take place by the end of July.

Cricket

India will not travel to Zimbabwe for a one-day international series in August due to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah said on Friday. The move follows the BCCI’s decision on Thursday to postpone India’s limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka, which was originally scheduled for later this month. India, who last visited Zimbabwe for a bilateral series in 2016, were due to play a three-match ODI series. The BCCI has not confirmed rescheduled dates. England’s three-Test series against West Indies is set to start on 8 July. The matches are to be played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl and Lancashire’s Old Trafford.  Of those tournaments cancelled or postponed, The Hundred. the ECB’s new city-based tournament, will now take place next year.  If and when the 2020 season does begin, the national governing body has already stated it will focus on delivering men’s and women’s internationals, as well as domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions, in the period between July and the end of September. However, it seems likely the majority of cricket would have to be played behind closed doors The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) has already been suspended “until further notice”.

Tennis

Austria’s Dominic Thiem won the final in the first weekend of the Adria Tour in Belgrade, beating Filip Krajinovic 4-3(2), 2-4, 4-2 on Sunday in a revised match format. Thiem took the first-set tie-break 6-2 to take an early lead – but his Serbian opponent got the first break of the match in Thiem’s second service game of the second set. The Serbian took a medical time-out in the middle of the second set for some treatment on his right arm – but it did not affect him too much, with Thiem double-faulting

Austrian Dominic Thiem in action on his way to winning the Adria Tour event in Belgrade.

on set point to level matters up. The world No.3 gathered himself, though, and held serve to love twice in the deciding set. Krajinovic clung on to his own serve – and forced Thiem to serve out to love to win the match. Earlier world No.1 Novak Djokovic was brought to tears after he bowed out of his Adria Tour with victory over German Alexander Zverev in front of home fans. The 4-0 1-4 4-2 win sent Krajinovic into the final. Djokovic’s event – the first elite men’s tennis since it was suspended by coronavirus in March – attracted 4,000 fans. “I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood,” he said as the Belgrade crowd gave him a standing ovation. Meanwhile, the US Open is scheduled to begin on 31 August and will be the first Grand Slam to be played after the season was suspended. The French Open was postponed to September while the Wimbledon championships were cancelled.

Rugby Union

New Zealand was the host of the first top-flight rugby matches following the Covid-19 lockdown in March with the Auckland Blues beating the Wellington Hurricanes 30-20 in front of a sell-out 43,000 crowd at Auckland’s Eden Park on Sunday. The weekend restart opened on Saturday with the Otago Highlanders beating the Waikato Chiefs 28-27.  The competition involving the country’s five Super Rugby teams was organised after Super Rugby, which involves teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Argentina, was halted in March. Meanwhile,  English Premiership Rugby is planning to resume its 2019-20 campaign on 15 August. The British government has given permission for elite sport to return without fans in attendance  and the Gallagher Premiership, which has nine rounds remaining, is hoping to complete its season. The Premiership had been aiming to resume on 27 June and play the season to its conclusion before, after a short break, starting the 2020-21 campaign on time.The restart date increases the likelihood of a fixture logjam. Along with this year’s postponed Six Nations match against Italy and their autumn fixtures, England could play seven matches, while Champions Cup organisers have targeted October for completing this season’s competition. Rugby at all levels in Europe has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rugby League

Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara expects to return to Super League action in early August. However, they would have to play away games for the first month because of the French Government ruling prohibiting sport being played until September. BBC Sport reported on 21 May that Super League sides were hopeful of playing in front of limited crowds from 1 October. No Super League games have been played since 15 March. “The task force responsible for the delicate issue of match dates continues to meet regularly in England. It is a difficult process due to the scenario which is constantly changing,” McNamara told the Dragons” website.   “We expect to start playing in early August and potentially play all of August in England. The matches will then be played in France from September. “The season will end with the Grand Final in late November or mid-December. All of this is clearly subject to government directives in effect between the two countries, including things like quarantine and security, etc.” The English Rugby Football League and Super League had postponed all fixtures indefinitely while the game’s premier competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, has resumed its season behind closed doors.

Cycling

Egan Bernal has ramped up his training for the Tour de France, clocking more than 1,500 km so far in June. The Colombian will target the rescheduled 2020 Tour de France in September after becoming the youngest winner in more than 100 years in 2019.  The 23-year-old will be keen to prove he is in shape to repeat his triumph, given four-time champion Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas are also vying for leadership of his Team Ineos.  Bernal and his fellow Colombian professionals received special dispensation from the government last month to train outdoors during the coronavirus lockdown, and they are set to travel to Europe in July on a charter flight to avoid travel restrictions in Colombia.  Froome, 35, is desperate for a shot at a record-equalling fifth title following his long comeback from injury, while Bernal has said he does not want to sacrifice himself for others. The tour is due to start in Nice on August 29, with other WorldTour races returning starting with Strade Bianche  in Italy on 1 August.  It was announced by the UCI last month that the Tour de France will now start on 29 August and end on 20 September, with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana overlapping during October. Cycling’s three Grand Tour races will be part of a packed schedule across just over three months from 1 August.

Athletics

Karsten Warholm achieved his mission at the Impossible Games in Oslo last Thursday night as, running alone in a largely empty stadium – but watched worldwide via a live TV link – he marked the sport’s first big break-out from the coronavirus lockdown with a world best for the 300m hurdles of 33.78sec. Another of Norway’s local heroes, 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, set a European 2000m race record of 4min 50.01sec in the event. The 24-year-old Warholm, twice world champion over

Karsten Warholm sets 300m hurdles world record

400m hurdles, bettered the outdoor mark of 34.48 set in 2002 by Britain’s Chris Rawlinson. Warholm already had a best of 34.26 for the rarely-run event, but that time was set indoors. The meeting was in lieu of the normally annual Bislett Games which has been a key part of the Diamond League programme, now sponsored by Wanda.The league now plans to hold three meetings in August in Monaco, Gateshead and Stockholm followed by September events in Lausanne, Brussels, Paris, Shanghai and possibly Rome or Naples. Meetings in Eugene, Doha and China have been scheduled for October. The London, Rabat and Zurich Diamond League events have been cancelled as have the 2020 European Athletics Championships in Paris, due to be staged from 25-30 August.

The Olympics

Tokyo 2020 would be a simplified Olympics, according to the chief executive of the organising committee. The Games, scheduled to start in July, were postponed for a year in March.Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto added that the Olympics will “not be done with grand splendour”. Organisers said that they are working on more than 200 ideas to simplify and reduce costs for the rescheduled Games. Muto, speaking at a news conference last week, also revealed that the organisers had not ruled out reducing the number of fans, although the competition schedule remained unchanged for now.  John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inspectorate for Tokyo, had said organisers had to plan for what could be a “very different” Olympics if there were no signs of Covid-19 being eradicated. The coronavirus pandemic forced the rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to July 23 to August 8, 2021. They will be followed by the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.

American sports

The NBA gave teams a more definitive timetable for the restart to the pandemic-interrupted season last Friday, including required coronavirus testing that is set to begin this month and mandatory individual workouts in early July before training camps. The league is still working on completing the health and safety protocols that will essentially become the rulebook for the restart at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida — and told teams that talks with the National Basketball Players Association on those issues are continuing.  The NBA is looking at a 30 July restart date with the finals played from 30 September to 13 October. The season was paused on 11 March. Major League Soccer (MLS) is also moving en masse to Florida, taking over a Disney hotel for a World Cup-style tournament that will run from 8 July through to 11 August.  All 26 teams will take part in the “MLS is Back Tournament” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in the Orlando area. The league play has been suspended since 12 March. The NHL have suspended their seasons and Major League Baseball (MLB) team owners are working on a plan to start playing in empty stadiums in early July.

Horse Racing

Trainer Aidan O’Brien defended his Irish 1,000 Guineas title as Peaceful romped to an impressive victory at the Curragh on Saturday.  The 3-1 shot saw off the field, including bookies’ favourite Albigna, with ease to secure a ninth 1,000 Guineas win for O’Brien. O’Brien’s other runner So Wonderful took third while Donnacha O’Brien, son of Aidan, saw his three-year-old mare Fancy Blue claim second as Albigna finished a distant sixth. On Friday, Siskin landed a first Irish 2,000 Guineas

Peaceful (pictured left) wins the Irish 1,000 Guineas

triumph for trainer Ger Lyons as the colt’s stunning late burst saw off O’Brien’s six hopefuls. The 2-1 favourite looked badly positioned with two furlongs left but Colin Keane moved his mount to the outside to unleash a winning charge. Unbeaten Siskin was one and three quarters lengths clear of O’Brien’s 14-1 shot Vatican City at the Curragh. O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez, a 9-2 shot, was third but this was Lyons’ day. Owned by Khalid Abdullah, Siskin provided Lyons and Keane with a first Classic success and added to his Group One victory in the Phoenix Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh as a juvenile.

Snooker

When Belgium’s Luca Brecel lifted the Championship League trophy last Thursday it marked the end of a successful fortnight for the sport. Brecel emerged victorious from a field of 64 players at an empty Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, which had in place strict restrictions because of Covid-19. A non-ranking event with matches played in a best-of-four format, the Championship League’s profile was boosted by the presence of star names including world champion and world No.1 Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby. And viewing figures, on free-to-air channel ITV4, were impressive – the opening day peaking at 400,000 while 250,000 watched 1997 world champion Ken Doherty’s final group match at midnight. Meanwhile, Ding Junhui has withdrawn from this week’s Tour Championship as a safety precaution and to “avoid extensive travel” from China. The 33-year-old’s place in the eight-man event at the Marshall Arena goes to Scot Stephen Maguire. The world’s leading snooker tournament, The World Championship, originally set to take place in April and May at Sheffield;s Crucible Theatre, has been rescheduled to start on 31 July.

For full update on sporting events go to: 

http://www.bbc.com/sporthttp://www.espn.comhttp://www.lequipe.frhttps://www.insidethegames.biz/http://www.reuters.com/news/sportswww.sports.yahoo.com,www.skysports.comwww.eurosport.frmidilibre.fr

Calendar Keynotes: 15-21 June

Competition has been postponed or cancelled in most major sports since March because of Covid-19 but football has returned in major European countries and the USPGA golf circuit has resumed.

Monday, 15 June

Football: Spanish La Liga – Levante v Sevilla, Real Betis v Granada.

Tuesday, 16 June

Football:  Spanish La Liga – Getafe v Espanyol, Villareal v Mallorca, Barcelona v Leganes, German Bundesliga – Borussia Monchengladbach v VfL Wolfsburg , 1. FC Union Berlin v SC Paderborn 07, SC Freiburg v Union Berlin, Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich.

Wednesday, 17 June  

Football: English Premier League – Aston Villa v Sheffield United, Manchester City v Arsenal, Spanish La Liga – Eibar v Athletic Bilbao, Real Valladolid v Celta Vigo, Osasuna v Atletico Madrid, Italian Coppa Italia final – Napoli v Juventus, German Bundesliga – Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund v Mainz 05, FC Augsburg v 1899 Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig v Fortuna Dusseldorf,

Thursday, 18 June

Football: Spanish La Ligue – Alaves v Real Sociedad, Real Madrid v Valencia.

Golf: USPGA tour, RBC Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (till 21 June).

Friday, 19 June

Football: English Premier League – Norwich City v Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United, Spanish La Liga – Granada v Villareal, Mallorca v Leganes, Sevilla v Barcelona.

Golf: USPGA tour, RBC Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (till 21 June).

Saturday, 20 June

Football:  English Premier League – Watford v Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal, West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers, AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace, Spanish La Liga – Espanyol v Levante, Athletic Bilbao v Real Betis, Getafe v Eibar, Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid, Italian Serie A – Torino v Parma, Hellas Verona v Cagliari, German Bundesliga – 1. FC Koln v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 05 v Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich v SC Freiburg, FC Schalke 04 v VfL Wolfsburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf v FC Augsburg, Hertha Berlin v Borussia Monchengladbach, 1899 Hoffenheim v 1. FC Union Berlin.

Golf: USPGA tour, RBC Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (till 21 June).

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).

Sunday, 21 June

Football: English Premier League –  Newcastle United v Sheffield United, Aston Villa v Chelsea, Everton v Liverpool, Spanish La Liga – Celta Vigo v Alaves, Valencia v Osasuna, Real Sociedad v Real Madrid, Italian Serie A – Atalanta v Sassuolo, Inter Milan v Sampdoria.

Golf: USPGA tour, RBC Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (final day).

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).