(Lisbon) Neymar, Mbappé, Ibrahimovic… and now Ronaldo. Portuguese star player Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest footballer to contract the coronavirus, leaving Portugal and his club Juventus Turin with a crippling void in attack.
"We respect all safety measures ... and yet it has happened," said incredulous Fernando Santos, the coach of the selection at a press conference.
Asymptomatic and in quarantine
The 35-year-old Portuguese player “has been declared positive for COVID-19 and will not play against Sweden” on Wednesday as part of the League of Nations, the Portuguese Football Federation announced earlier, specifying that he was "asymptomatic" and was "in quarantine".
Since the arrival of the team, "we do tests every day", explained Fernando Santos during the conference following the team's training in Oeiras, on the outskirts of Lisbon, initially scheduled for Tuesday morning. but which was postponed after Ronaldo tested positive.
For a week, the players and the technical team "have lived in a bubble", he said, adding that Ronaldo had repeated the screening test Tuesday morning to confirm a first result.
For the Portuguese, tied on points with France in Group 3 of the League of Nations, this absence may weigh on Wednesday against Sweden. In the first leg in Solna (2-0), the striker scored the two victory goals, exceeding the symbolic bar of 100 international goals.
Especially since the Portuguese selection begins to look like a hotbed of contamination: Ronaldo is indeed the third player to catch the coronavirus in this two-week international window, after defender José Fonte (Lille) and goalkeeper Anthony Lopes (Lyon) ).
The other Portuguese players, tested Tuesday morning, "are all negative," said Fernando Santos. Just like those of the France team, who faced the Portuguese two days earlier (0-0) and arrived in Croatia on Tuesday, according to the French Federation.
Juventus in embarrassment
But it is especially for Juventus Turin, where Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored three goals and delivered an assist in… two days of the Championship, that this positive test is a blow.
According to the health protocol in force in Italy, the five-time Ballon d'Or must indeed remain in isolation for ten days and then provide a negative test to be able to start playing again.
He will therefore miss with certainty the next Serie A match in Crotone, but especially the entry into contention of Juventus in the Champions League, against Dynamo Kiev (Tuesday 20).
Subject to a good state of health, he could therefore return for the reception of Hellas Verona, Sunday, October 25, and would especially be available for the reception, on October 28 in C1, of FC Barcelona from his rival Lionel Messi.
This bad news also gives another tone to his departure at the beginning of last week for the gathering of the Portuguese team, in violation of the sanitary protocol of Serie A.
Ronaldo had left, like other international Juve, the hotel where the players of the team were in isolation after two cases of COVID-19 detected within the club, without waiting for the green light of his management.
Juve reported his departure to health authorities who forwarded this breach of protocol to justice. The player risks a fine.
In Portugal the reactions were quick. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa wished "a speedy recovery", while the striker's mother, Dolores Aveiro, publicly supported him.
“God gives great battles to great warriors. This is one more war that you will win, my son, ”she wrote on her Instagram account.