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Brazilian champions back in training

Current Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A champions Flamengo returned to training on Monday following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Earlier this month, the Rio de Janeiro-based club reported they had three players tested positive for coronavirus, along with a further 35 others at the club from 293 tests. The club’s long-time masseur, Jorginho, died of the virus at the start of May.

Flamengo said in a statement that their training regimes would respect social distancing and hygiene laws, including use of PPE equipment mandatory, no use of the changing rooms and doors being left open.

Brazil’s state championships have been suspended since mid-March and only a few of the top clubs in the country have recalled their players for training. However, no date has been set for the season to restart as of yet.

As of Monday, Brazil recorded 674 new coronavirus deaths and announced a total of 254,220 cases, overtaking the United Kingdom to record the third-highest number of cases worldwide, behind only the USA and Russia.

Flamengo won the 2019 Brazilian Serie A, running away with the division, some 16 points ahead of runners-up Santos. This was their sixth championship and first for a decade, putting them behind only Palmeiras (10), Santos (8) and Corinthians (7) overall.

They were one of seven Brazilian clubs competing in this season’s Copa Libertadores group stage and had taken a maximum of six points from their first two games, against Junior from Colombia (2-1) and Barcelona from Ecuador (3-0) before the competition was suspended. The latter was Flamengo’s last competitive fixture, on 11 March.

Flamengo are also defending champions of the Copa Libertadores after beating River Plate 2-1 in the final on 23 November 2019 in Lima, Peru. It was their second title after winning it all the way back in 1981.

Their current squad, coached by Jorge Jesus, includes the likes of Brazilian internationals Diego Alves, Rafinha, Felipe Luis, Everton Ribeiro, Diego and Gabriel Barbosa.

Germany were the first major league to restart their league as the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga divisions both got back underway in Europe. Four Brazilians played in Germany’s top flight over the weekend – Paulinho (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Paulo Otavio and Joao Victor (both Wolfsburg) and Matheus Cunha (Hertha BSC).

Elsewhere in Europe, the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A are all aiming for a restart in mid-June with nothing yet made official. The 2020 European Championships were postponed back in March, having been scheduled to take place this summer.

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