Barca’s COVID outbreak swells, EPL tie off

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Barcelona squad has swelled to 10, potentially jeopardising the soccer giant’s return to league play after Spain’s winter break of nearly two weeks.

In England, Saturday’s match between Leicester and Norwich in the Premier League was postponed because Norwich did not have the required numbers to play as a result of COVID-19 cases and injuries.

“The Board accepted Norwich’s application as the club do not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), due to COVID-19 cases and injuries,” the league said in a statement.

It is the 17th match to be called off in the EPL in the past month.

Sergino Dest, Philippe Coutinho and Abde Ezzalzouli are the latest players to contract the virus, Barcelona said.

They are self-isolating at home and the team said they were “in good health.”

The club already announced this week Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, Gavi, Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde, Clement Lenglet and Dani Alves had tested positive and were isolating.

Barcelona were also depleted by injuries going into Sunday’s match at Mallorca in seventh place.

Real Madrid said on Wednesday four players – Vinicius Jr., Thibaut Courtois, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga – tested positive for the virus ahead of Sunday’s game against Getafe.

During the break, Dest and Vinicius posted photos on Instagram of their respective trips to Miami. They included court-side photos at a Miami Heat basketball game and pictures with star Jimmy Butler.

Vinicius’ account included one of him with Heat guard Tyler Herro. They all wore masks in the photos.

On Wednesday, the Heat were unable to meet the NBA’s requirement of eight available players for the game against San Antonio, leading to that match being postponed. Miami had 12 players listed as out because of a combination of injuries and positive virus tests.

French club Angers asked the soccer league to postpone their home game against Saint-Etienne on January 9 because of a high number of coronavirus cases.

Angers said there were 19 confirmed cases among their squad of 30 players and more than 10 will not be authorised to play again until January 10. Angers added a further five staff members have the virus.

Angers had five players out with COVID-19 when they lost at Montpellier 4-1 on December 22 before the winter break.

Strasbourg said coach Julien Stephan has the virus but is showing no symptoms.

Lyon midfielder Lucas Paqueta wrote on Instagram that he tested positive on vacation in Dubai and is isolating there.

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