Leagues

Spain coach Luis Enrique has admitted the national team’s situation “isn’t pleasant” — with the players unable to train together days from their Euro 2020 debut — but added: “I’ve experienced worse.”

Captain Sergio Busquetspositive COVID-19 test on Sunday began a week of disruption for Spain with the squad in quarantine, missing their last pre-tournament friendly, and undergoing daily testing amid fears of an outbreak within the camp.

A second positive test, for defender Diego Llorente, is now thought to have been a false positive, but doubts remain over when the squad will be able to train collectively and when they will be vaccinated ahead of their opening group game against Sweden in Seville on Monday.

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Spain later confirmed that all of the players had tested negative in a latest round of tests carried out on Thursday.

“On a personal level, it isn’t pleasant, the results take a long time to arrive,” Luis Enrique said in a news conference on Thursday. “The laboratories do their work as well as possible. We take the PCR tests first thing in the morning so that the laboratory can give us the results before training… We are prepared for adversity. It isn’t a pleasant situation, but I have experienced much worse.”

The coach was referring to the death of his nine-year-old daughter Xana in 2019, which forced him to temporarily step down from the position.

“For me, this is kids’ stuff, compared to some things I’ve had to experience,” he added.

Luis Enrique described Busquets’ positive test as “a surprise” as the squad had been in a bubble for seven days, undergoing regular testing, when it happened.

“We followed all the protocols, perhaps even more strictly than UEFA requires,” he said. “On Sunday everything changed. The medical staff took steps and we began an even more demanding protocol, training individually. You can imagine how complex that is… The attitude of the players has been exemplary.”

He confirmed that Busquets would return to the squad, whenever he became available, saying the Barcelona midfielder was “fine” and “asymptomatic.”

On Wednesday, Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE reported that the vaccination of the players had finally been approved, although Luis Enrique said the national team was yet to receive official confirmation with time running out before Euro 2020 starts.

“We control what we can control,” he said. “We’ll accept any decision taken by those responsible… I would have liked, and [RFEF president Luis Rubiales] would have liked too, for it to be done at the right time, when the squad was named. But we accept the decisions taken.”

When asked if he was concerned that the players might experience side effects, he added: “As of today there’s nothing official that they’ll be vaccinated tomorrow or the day after. I want the players to go into the games in the best condition.”

He also sounded a positive note, saying that Spain remained “without any doubt” among the favourites to win the competition.

“We aren’t the favourites, because the favourite is the champion,” he said. “But we’re among six or seven favourites, no doubt. When I watch the games, like our draw with Portugal [on Friday], I’m even more motivated.”

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