Valencia expressed their "surprise" at Gian Piero Gasperini's revelation that he suffered coronavirus symptoms during the Champions League last-16 tie, insisting the Atalanta head coach put people at risk.

Gasperini revealed over the weekend he was scared while appearing to suffer from COVID-19 as Atalanta defeated Valencia 4-3 behind closed doors in the Champions League on March 10.

Atalanta advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals 8-4 on aggregate at the Mestalla before the 2019-20 football season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In light of Gasperini's comments, LaLiga outfit Valencia released a statement, which read: "Valencia CF wish to publicly express our surprise at comments made by Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini which appeared in the Italian press this Sunday, stating that, both the day before and the day of the match played on March 10th at Mestalla, the coach of our opposing team in the UEFA Champions League last-16 game was aware of suffering symptoms theoretically compatible with those of coronavirus, without taking preventive measures. Such actions, if this was the case, would have put at risk numerous people during the trip to – and stay in – Valencia.

"It should be remembered that this game was held behind closed doors amidst strict safety measures, on the order of the Spanish health authorities, to prevent the risk of COVID-19 contagion, precisely due to the presence of persons from an area already publicly classified as 'at risk' at that time."

LaLiga and Serie A have been suspended since March but the two leagues are preparing to return following the COVID-19 crisis.

The Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis will headline LaLiga's return on June 11 in Spain.

Italy's Serie A, meanwhile, is scheduled to restart on June 20.

Lucien Favre did not see Jadon Sancho unveil a shirt displaying 'Justice for George Floyd' after scoring during Borussia Dortmund's 6-1 victory over Paderborn.

England international Sancho showed the garment bearing the name of the man who died in police custody in the United States, prompting protests across the country and beyond.

The 20-year-old was shown a yellow card for removing his playing shirt while celebrating the first of his three goals in the Bundesliga game on Sunday.

Dortmund team-mate Achraf Hakimi also displayed a shirt with the same slogan, as the visitors ran out comfortable winners against the team sitting bottom of the table.

"I didn't see it," coach Favre said of Sancho's celebration. "After the game, I heard about him celebrating a goal like that. There was something on a t-shirt.

"What can I say? I don't know why he did that. I didn't see it. I can't judge it."

Dortmund were held scoreless in the first half before Thorgan Hazard broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, setting them on their way to a landslide triumph.

It was a much-needed three points following a midweek loss to Bayern Munich, a result that left them highly unlikely to catch the reigning champions in the title race.

Favre revealed he was not worried by side's failure to score before the break in the absence of Erling Haaland, who missed the game due to a knee injury.

''I only said one sentence during the half-time break: 'We need to keep doing what we're doing'," he said.

"We pressed well, we tired out our opponents, and it was clear that they wouldn't be able to keep up the tempo all the way to the final whistle.

"We wanted to make sure they couldn't hit us on the counter, as they have a lot of pace up top.

"We were able to maintain the intensity we showed in the first half and the only real change we made was some alterations to our wide players' movements."

The Championship is set to return on the weekend of June 20, the English Football League (EFL) has announced. 

English football's second tier is primed to follow in the footsteps of the Premier League after the provisional restart date was confirmed by the governing body. 

The Premier League's resumption date is set for just three days earlier. In both divisions, all matches will be played behind closed doors as the threat of coronavirus remains. 

In a statement released on Sunday, the EFL stressed that fixtures could only resume on the hoped-for date if "all safety requirements and government guidance is met". 

Furthermore, clubs must have clearance from local authorities to host matches. 

The EFL wants a revised schedule to tie in closely with that of the top flight, with promotion and relegation issues at hand. 

It hopes the play-off final, described as the richest game in football, will take place "on or around July 30". 

EFL chair Rick Parry said: "We must stress that at this stage the date is only provisional and will only be confirmed once we have met all the requirements, as the health, safety and well-being of all participants, staff and supporters remains our top priority. 

"Clearly completing the season in a safe manner is going to require a significant effort by all concerned and, whilst not unprecedented, it will need clubs to play a significant number of matches over a relatively short period of time." 

The EFL has proposed teams will be allowed to make five substitutions per game, with matchday squads increased from 18 to 20 players. Discussions will continue with Championship clubs over the suggested changes.

The Championship saw 10 individuals test positive for coronavirus after tests on Thursday and Friday.

Leeds United and West Brom occupy the two automatic promotion spots in the table. 

Jadon Sancho is among the leading players of his generation, according to Borussia Dortmund team-mate Axel Witsel. 

England star Sancho scored a hat-trick in Dortmund's 6-1 thrashing of Paderborn on Sunday, in the process becoming the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 30 goals. 

The 20-year-old is also the first English player to register at least 15 goals and the same number of assists in a single season in one of Europe's top five leagues since Matt Le Tissier, who achieved the feat for Southampton in the Premier League 25 years ago. 

Such impressive numbers are the reason Witsel speaks so highly of Sancho, who celebrated his first goal by revealing a t-shirt in tribute to George Floyd, who died while in police custody in the United States on Monday. 

"I think he's one of the best of his generation," said Witsel.

"He still has a lot to improve, to progress, because he is really young.

"But I'm sure in his position, as a winger, he will be one of the best."

Despite their resounding win, Lucien Favre's side sit seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich in the table.

A testing week for Borussia Dortmund ended on a positive note on Sunday.

After the disappointment of losing to Bayern Munich in midweek, they took out their frustrations on Paderborn. The Bundesliga's bottom club were hit for six with Jadon Sancho the undisputed star of the show.

The England international - centre of much transfer speculation amid reports of a return to the Premier League - registered a hat-trick to take his Bundesliga tally for the season to 17. In doing so, he helped his current employers pick up a victory that, for now, will silence some of their doubters.

These were three much-needed points as well, and not just to boost morale after the midweek defeat to Bayern had seemingly dashed their Bundesliga title dream for another season and raised questions over Lucien Favre's suitability to lead the team beyond the current campaign. 

Instead of being tucked in behind the leaders, Dortmund's Klassiker setback had them looking worryingly over their shoulder.

Borussia Monchengladbach's 4-1 thrashing of Union Berlin on Sunday had pulled them into BVB's rear-view mirror, as they joined Bayer Leverkusen – 1-0 winners at Freiburg on Friday – on 56 points. RB Leipzig, meanwhile, can leapfrog the pair and reclaim third place by beating Cologne on Monday.

With the chasing pack sensing an opportunity to attack a wounded rival, a win – any type of win – was all that mattered for Dortmund against opponents propping up the rest in the table. Still, they had drawn 3-3 against Paderborn in their previous meeting, while they were without the injured Erling Haaland. 

The Norwegian's absence was keenly felt during a scoreless first 45 minutes, too. Thorgan Hazard was nominated to be the replacement up top, but no Haaland left Dortmund without a battering ram to knock down the door. Instead, they had to patiently pick at the lock, eventually opening Paderborn up. 

Leopold Zingerle helped their cause admittedly, the hospitable goalkeeper gifting Hazard the chance to score the opener as he dropped a cross straight into the path of the Belgian.

After that, however, it was all about Sancho. 

The 20-year-old had not started a game since the resumption of a campaign held up by the coronavirus pandemic, a calf injury leading to cameo roles off the bench. In each of the three previous games his time on the field had increased, including playing all of the second half in the 1-0 defeat to Bayern. 

Now, though, Favre was happy to give him top billing again. Even with the game long over as a contest, the Dortmund boss left Sancho out there to demonstrate just why he is so coveted by clubs in his homeland, suggesting there are no long-term concerns over his fitness for the remainder of the run-in. 

He capitalised on the extended opportunity, sealing his hat-trick and with it a place in the Bundesliga history books.  

A tap-in from Julian Brandt's square pass to double Dortmund’s advantage and was followed by revealing a shirt with the words "Justice for George Floyd" written across it, in reference to the black American who died while in Minneapolis police custody. 

His second was a well-placed finish when teed up by Hazard, quickly ending Paderborn's comeback hopes after Uwe Hunemeier's penalty halved the deficit. Sancho's third, however, was the pick of the bunch.

There was clearly still plenty left in the tank as proceedings drifted into added time, allowing him to race clear on the counter down Dortmund's right before clinically slotting the ball inside Zingerle's near post. 

The treble makes him the youngest player to reach 30 goals in the competition’s long history. How many more he will add to that tally, considering the rumours surrounding his future, is unclear, but this was a day when he made a clear statement – and not just with his performance, either.

Jadon Sancho broke an English and a Bundesliga record on Sunday, as the Borussia Dortmund winger scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Paderborn.

Sancho, who revealed a "justice for George Floyd" t-shirt after scoring his first goal in the 57th minute, put Dortmund 2-0 up following Thorgan Hazard's opener.

It took the youngster onto 15 goals for the season, making him the first English player to register at least 15 goals and assists in a single season in one of Europe's top five leagues since the 1994-95 Premier League campaign, when Matt Le Tissier did so for Southampton.

The winger also became the first player to achieve the feat in a Bundesliga campaign, since the start of detailed data collecting in 2004-05.

Sancho was not done there, however, and drilled in a second in the 74th minute before rounding off the win - and his hat-trick - in stoppage time.

Dortmund's victory moves them onto 60 points, four clear of Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, though seven adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Jadon Sancho marked his return to the Borussia Dortmund XI with a hat-trick and a political message as they thumped Bundesliga strugglers Paderborn 6-1 on Sunday.

Sancho was restored to the line-up for the first time since the coronavirus-enforced break after a disappointing midweek defeat to Bayern Munich saw the defending champions move seven points clear at the summit.

That reverse prompted fresh speculation regarding head coach Lucien Favre's future, but Sancho helped his second-placed side get back on track as they look to secure Champions League qualification.

Although Dortmund were frustrated until the 54th minute at the Benteler-Arena, Thorgan Hazard's opener was swiftly followed by a second from Sancho, who would later net again after Uwe Hunemeier brought Paderborn back into the contest, with Achraf Hakimi and Marcel Schmelzer adding gloss to the scoreline.

The England international rounded off his treble in the 92nd minute by capping a rapid Dortmund counter-attack.

Sancho celebrated his first by revealing a T-shirt bearing the message "Justice for George Floyd" in reference to the black American who died in an incident involving a police officer in Minnesota this week, prompting protests across the United States.

Bundesliga colleagues Weston McKennie and Marcus Thuram had similar tributes earlier in a weekend that concluded with Dortmund's return to winning ways.

 

 

Jadon Sancho revealed a "justice for George Floyd" t-shirt after putting Borussia Dortmund 2-0 up in Sunday's Bundesliga clash with Paderborn.

On his first start since the resumption of the Bundesliga, England international Sancho tucked in from Julian Brandt's cross in the 57th minute, after Thorgan Hazard had given Dortmund the lead.

In celebration, Sancho took off his Dortmund top to reveal a t-shirt featuring the name of the man who died in police custody in the United States, prompting protests across that country and beyond.

Lionel Messi believes football will never be the same following the coronavirus pandemic.

While the seasons were brought to an end in France and the Netherlands, football in Europe's major leagues is gradually returning behind closed doors.

The Bundesliga resumed on May 16 and Messi and Barca will soon be able to recommence their quest to claim the title in LaLiga, which is poised to return on June 11.

In England, the Premier League will restart on June 17, with Italy's Serie A set to get going again on June 20.

However, the financial implications of the suspension and playing games without spectators in the stadiums will have a significant impact on clubs and competitions around the globe.

Speaking to El Pais, Messi said: "I don't think football will ever be the same. But beyond football, I don't think life, in general, will ever be the same, either.

"All of us that have experienced this situation will remember what happened in one way or another.

"In my case, it's with a feeling of sorrow and frustration for those that have suffered the most due to the loss of loved ones.

"I am sure that football and sport, in general, will be affected. Financially, because there are companies linked with the world of sport that will maybe experience some difficulties because of the coronavirus.

"But also professionally, because with the return to training and competing, what was normal before now is going to be different. It will be a strange situation for us as athletes but also for anyone that has to change their usual work dynamic.

"I am grateful to all of the people that are fighting to beat this virus in hospitals, health centres and care homes. Nearly all of us have doubts about how the world will be after everything that's happened.

"Beyond the lockdown measures and the whole situation, which caught us by surprise, many people have had a really tough time because they've been directly affected.

"People have lost family and friends and were not even able to say goodbye. There have been a lot of negatives to come from this crisis, but I don't think there's anything worse than losing your loved ones. That, for me, is hugely frustrating and unfair."

Marco Rose was proud of Marcus Thuram taking a knee in celebration after scoring against Union Berlin, with the Borussia Monchengladbach coach adding the striker has "set an example".

Thuram scored twice as Gladbach boosted their Champions League hopes with a convincing 4-1 victory on Sunday, with Florian Neuhaus and Alassane Plea also finding the net.

However, it was Thuram's celebration after his first goal - Gladbach's second - that grabbed the headlines, as the 22-year-old took a knee, seemingly in relation to ongoing civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minnesota this week.

Asked for his opinion on the celebration, Gladbach coach Rose gave Thuram his full backing.

"Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support," Rose told reporters.

Rose was not the only one to offer their support, with Real Betis' Marc Bartra sharing an image of Thuram's celebration on his official Twitter account with the caption "#BlackLivesMatter" and "#NoToRacism".

Reflecting on a fine display from his side, which saw the Foals move up to third place, Rose, speaking to the club's official website, added: "We implemented what we set out to do very well.

"Union Berlin fought back and kept going. With the ball we exuded a certain dominance, even if we may have made one or two simple mistakes. 

"Nevertheless, we scored four beautiful goals and so I am very happy with the performance and of course with the result."

Mario Balotelli has responded to reports he failed to attend training on Sunday, insisting he is not "invisible to the cameras" that were present at the session.

Balotelli has endured a difficult season with hometown club Brescia, the 29-year-old managing just five goals in 19 Serie A appearances this term. 

Brescia president Massimo Cellino said on Thursday that he expects Balotelli to leave, conceding it was a mistake to sign the former Manchester City forward, who reportedly skipped training on Tuesday. 

Similar reports emerged in the Italian media on Sunday. However, using his official Instagram account, Balotelli denied the speculation. 

"How can you write that I am not training on the pitch? There are journalists at the centre at all my sessions, obviously with their TV cameras!" Balotelli said on his Instagram story. 

"I attend two training sessions a day, almost every day! How can you deny the evidence? I didn't think I was a phantom, invisible to the cameras." 

As well as Celino's criticism of Balotelli, the Italy international also had a training-ground bust-up with former head coach Fabio Grosso in November. 

He was given permission to leave the club in January, only to stay put before the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of the season in March. 

Lille have received multiple offers for Victor Osimhen having rejected interest in the forward during January, according to owner Gerard Lopez.

The Nigeria international only joined the Ligue 1 club from Sporting Charleroi prior to the 2019-20 season but is already being linked with a big-money move elsewhere.

Osimhen has scored 18 goals in all competitions, including two in a Champions League campaign that saw Lille only register a solitary point as they finished bottom of Group H behind Valencia, Chelsea and Ajax.

While the 21-year-old's agent recently claimed Napoli were the only club seriously interested, Lopez has revealed there are a number of suitors from three different leagues in Europe. 

"There are multiple offers," he told Sportsmail. "We turned down one English and one Spanish offer this January transfer window.

"There is a wide array [this summer] and I wouldn't want to give the names of the clubs who are bidding but what I can tell you is that there are multiple [offers]. There are three championships that have clubs that have bid for him."

Lille stand to make a considerable profit on a player they reportedly paid €12million for last year; he has been linked with Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.

The Gunners signed Nicolas Pepe from the same team in 2019 and Lopez expects somewhere close to the rumoured £72m (€80m) they received for the Ivory Coast forward.

"I am not being a sales guy because last year people didn't believe that we had the offers we had with [Nicolas] Pepe and it turns out we had multiple of them," Lopez said.

"Let me tell you with Osimhen, it is the same thing, whatever number you heard, the high number I have read is very much on the money of the offers that we have received. That's where we are."

Gaizka Garitano has seen his Athletic Bilbao contract extended by another season after guiding the Basque club to the Copa del Rey final.

Garitano – previously Athletic's reserve coach – was appointed until the end of the 2018-19 campaign when Eduardo Berizzo was sacked with the team in relegation trouble after 14 matches.

The former Real Sociedad midfielder took Athletic up the table and into European contention to earn the opportunity to continue in the role for 2019-20.

And another impressive outing has seen Garitano secure a further 12-month extension.

Athletic endured a three-month winless run earlier this term but were 10th in LaLiga when the season was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Crucially, Garitano's side had also reached a mouthwatering all-Basque Copa decider against rivals Real Sociedad.

"I am very happy for the confidence shown in me by the club," the coach said.

"This is the team that I have followed since childhood, from my heart. Running it is a joy and a responsibility.

"The experience lived this year in the Copa is magnificent and we have the opportunity to win a title. You have to stick with the positive things and try to improve."

Barcelona are continuing their push for Lautaro Martinez, while Liverpool have renewed their interest in Ousmane Dembele.

Martinez, 22, has been linked with a move to Barcelona, although just whether the LaLiga giants can get a deal done has been questioned.

Inter have insisted the only way Martinez will leave is by his €111million release clause being paid. That has seemingly not put Barca off.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PUSH AHEAD IN LAUTARO PURSUIT

Barcelona are continuing to chase Inter star Martinez, according to Marca.

The report says the LaLiga side remain firm in their intention to sign Martinez despite Inter wanting his release clause paid.

Martinez had scored 16 goals in 31 games this season when the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for Dembele previously, Liverpool could target the Barcelona attacker again. Mundo Deportivo reports the Premier League leaders will consider a move for Dembele if they fail to land RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

- Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is out of contract at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2021. However, Sport reports the defender is set to renew with Madrid.

- Kai Havertz continues to attract plenty of interest. But Marca says the Bayer Leverkusen star will have to wait for Real Madrid, who it reports have been in advanced negotiations for the attacker. Havertz is also said to be wanted by Bayern Munich.

- Will Miralem Pjanic get to Barcelona? With the Juventus midfielder linked with a switch to Camp Nou, Sport and Tuttosport report the Serie A giants have asked for 17-year-old forward Ansu Fati to be included in a deal. Arthur has also been linked to Juventus.

- A possible return to Juventus for Paul Pogba appears to be difficult. However, CalcioMercato reports the Italian champions have offered Adrien Rabiot to Manchester United in a deal for the midfielder.

- David Luiz could be set for an Arsenal exit. The Mirror reports the defender will have to take a huge pay cut to secure a return to Benfica if Arsenal opt against triggering a one-year extension to his deal.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick revealed he told Robert Lewandowski he was "surprised" the striker had not scored against Fortuna Dusseldorf before that changed on Saturday.

Lewandowski netted a brace in Bayern's 5-0 win and his double meant he has now recorded a goal against all 18 Bundesliga clubs.

Flick revealed how he had tried to inspire the striker, who moved onto 43 goals in all competitions this season.

"I told Robert Lewandowski that I was surprised to hear at the press conference that he had not yet scored a goal against Fortuna Dusseldorf and that he should change that as soon as possible," he told a news conference.

"And of course he did."

Bayern's win saw them move 10 points clear at the top as they near an eighth straight league title, and they have netted 86 goals in 29 Bundesliga games this season.

But Flick insisted the 100-goal milestone was not a priority, with Bayern having five matches to net 14 times.

"There are other goals that are more important to me. That we have a very successful season," he said.

"If this is the case, that we can score one or two goals more, that's even better.

"But currently the focus is on the Bundesliga. To finish the league on the same pitch as we are now."

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