The squad are being tested daily and the training ground is in lockdown to ensure there is no significant outbreak
Spain midfielder Rodri admits there has been a “fear” among the squad this week that a positive test for Covid-19 could rule them out of the European Championship after an outbreak threatened to derail their preparations.
Midfielder Sergio Busquets and defender Diego Llorente both tested positive and were forced to self-isolate, though Llorente was quickly able to re-join the squad after he subsequently tested negative.
That raised fears among the rest of the players that a rush of further positive tests would follow – though that has not proved the case so far.
What did Rodri say?
Spain’s Las Rozas training ground was placed into lockdown in response to Busquets’ positive test, with all the players tested daily for the virus as a precaution, while a “parallel bubble” of players was created should there be a raft of positive cases.
Rodri admits that created a tense atmosphere as they waited for the results, knowing their tournament could be ended at any moment.
“For the last few days, every morning when the PCRs [tests] are done, there’s been this idea going round your head: ‘Please, please don’t let there be a positive’. It would be very cruel,” he told the Guardian.
“There’s a fear, not so much for our health, as we’re young and it seems unlikely that anything serious could happen to us, but that you could miss the Euros. Busi [Busquets] caught it, he doesn’t feel anything [symptoms] at all but you know that could mean missing out. It happened to Diego, although fortunately it was a false positive and he can come back but that idea leaves you with a really bad feeling, a sadness. The situation is what it is, though; we know it’s the age we’re living in. And luckily it now seems like we’re moving forward.”
Outbreak disrupts training plans
With the training ground locked down players have been unable to train or relax together as they prepare for Monday’s tournament opener against Sweden.
The squad have also agreed to be vaccinated against the virus following the outbreak, though they will not have full protection straight away.
Rodri admits the disrupted training regime has been frustrating but understands why every precaution needs to be taken for everyone’s safety.
“These last few days we haven’t been able to work the way that we would like,” he said.
“We’ve been doing individual training, more physical. That’s useful in terms of fitness, but we haven’t had the collective preparation you need: sessions where there’s ball work, passes, possession, mini-games, combinations. We haven’t done much with the ball, which is what really makes things function.
“In the residency, the common spaces have been closed. We got rid of any type of contact. Meals have been organised so that everything is done separately, the tables are apart, we eat in shifts. It’s all done individually, everything we do. Everyone’s in their own rooms.
“It does end up feeling like a long time. It’s a price to pay, but we don’t mind if that’s what it takes to ensure there are no more [Covid] positives. And if there are no late setbacks we’ll soon get back to normal, begin the Euros, which is what we all want.”
On the vaccine, he added: “They vaccinated us and I’m fine. No symptoms or side-effects. It’s good news that they’ve given us all the vaccine at last and we can get that bit of tranquillity; we can all be calmer now.”