Barcelona were boosted on Tuesday as Ronald Koeman's squad received the COVID-19 all-clear in the wake of two members of staff testing positive.

A morning training session was called off as players underwent tests to determine whether the virus may have spread among the group.

But there were no positives detected and that meant Koeman's charges could train in the evening, ahead of playing Wednesday's match against Athletic Bilbao.

A club statement read: "In accordance with LaLiga protocol, the FC Barcelona first-team squad undertook PCR tests on Tuesday morning. All tests came back negative."

The Camp Nou giants said on Monday that two members of the first-team staff had returned positives for coronavirus, and sports and health authorities were informed about those results.

Koeman's team sit fifth in LaLiga ahead of their trip to the Basque Country to play Athletic, who are ninth.

Barcelona, who are 10 points off the top of LaLiga, have won the previous two matches on their travels after going four away league games without a win.

Juventus wide player Juan Cuadrado has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss the clash with Serie A leaders Milan on Wednesday.

The Colombia international is asymptomatic but has begun a period of self-isolation, the Italian champions confirmed.

The news comes just a day after left-back Alex Sandro was ruled out after returning a positive test for the virus.

It means head coach Andrea Pirlo will be without two of his first-choice full-backs for the game at San Siro against Stefano Pioli's side, who are the only unbeaten team in Europe's top five leagues in the 2020-21 season.

The club said in a statement: "Juventus Football Club announces that, during the checks provided for by the protocol in force, Juan Cuadrado has emerged positive with COVID-19. The player has already been placed in solitary confinement and is asymptomatic."

Cuadrado, 32, has made 13 appearances in Serie A this term, scoring once.

Juve head into the Milan contest with a 10-point deficit to the league leaders, albeit with a game in hand.

While they have lost only once in 14 matches, Juve have won just seven times, leaving them in fifth place with 27 points.

They are hoping to avoid losing back-to-back league games against the Rossoneri for the first time since 2010, having been beaten 4-2 in the previous meeting last July.

The last time they faced Milan when behind them in the table was in November 2015, when a Paulo Dybala goal secured a 1-0 victory.

Kevin Durant is out of the Brooklyn Nets' contest against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and could reportedly miss the team's next four NBA games as he follows the league's health and safety protocols.

Reports in ESPN stated Durant was exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and is facing a seven-day quarantine period.

That would see Durant also sit out against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday and Friday, as well as Sunday's showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After opening the season with back-to-back wins, the Nets have lost four of their past five to sit 10th in the early throes of the Eastern Conference standings.

Durant missed the entirety of the disrupted 2019-20 campaign due to a ruptured Achilles and is averaging 28.2 points, seven rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Nets this term.

Juventus defender Alex Sandro has tested positive for coronavirus, the Serie A club announced on Monday.

The Brazil international - who played in Sunday's 4-1 league victory over Udinese in Turin - underwent a test after displaying what Juve described as "mild symptoms". 

Alex Sandro is self-isolating after it was confirmed he has contracted COVID-19, a concern for his club ahead of Wednesday's huge showdown with Milan.

"Juventus announces that following the appearance of some mild symptoms, a check was arranged for the player Alex Sandro, which revealed his positivity to COVID-19," a statement read.

"The player has already been placed in isolation. 

"The club is in contact with the health authorities for the definition of an effective implementation of the protocols needed to allow the training and competition activities of the team."

Alex Sandro featured for 83 minutes against Udinese before being replaced by Gianluca Frabotta, at which stage the hosts were 3-0 up in the game.

The 29-year-old has made seven league appearances under Andrea Pirlo during the 2020-21 campaign, as well as featuring three times in the Champions League group stage.

Juve travel to San Siro to face Milan - the unbeaten Serie A leaders - in midweek, followed by a home game against Sassuolo on Sunday.

Moeen Ali has tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Sri Lanka, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

Ali and the rest of the England Test squad were checked at the airport in Hambantota on Sunday after flying in ahead of the two-match series, which gets underway on January 14.

The all-rounder will now observe a 10-day period of self-isolation, while team-mate Chris Woakes will isolate for a minimum of seven days after being deemed a possible close contact.

Further testing of the rest of the party will be carried out on Tuesday, with England's players then due to begin training the following day.

"Ali will now observe a period of 10-days self-isolation, in accordance with the Sri Lanka government's protocol on quarantine," a statement from the ECB read.

"Chris Woakes has been deemed as a possible close contact, and he will observe a period of self-isolation and further testing.

"The touring party will be PCR tested for a second time on Tuesday morning. At this stage, the team will train for the first time on Wednesday."

England selected a 16-man squad for the series in Sri Lanka, though seven reserves were also announced for the trip to help cover for potential absences.

The white-ball tour to South Africa in December was cut short due to a number of COVID-19 cases within the bubble shared by the two teams.

While the three-match Twenty20 series against the Proteas was completed, the one-day games scheduled had to be cancelled.

Crowd capacity for the Sydney Test between Australia and India starting on Thursday has been reduced to 25 per cent.

Questions were raised over the venue of the third Test after a coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales.

The clash will go ahead at the SCG, but on Monday it was announced the crowd capacity had been cut from 50 per cent to 25.

"In response to the public health situation in NSW, we are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely," Cricket Australia (CA) interim chief executive Nick Hockley said.

"Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements, and we sincerely thank ticketholders for their patience, as we process refunds today, reconfigure the SCG seating plan to deliver these social distancing measures and go back on sale."

The four-Test series is locked at 1-1, with some doubts now over the venue for the final match – due to be held in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Australia paceman James Pattinson has been ruled out of the Sydney Test due to bruised ribs suffered in a fall at home.

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

"Fulham FC's match at Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 6pm this evening, has been postponed following a Premier League Board meeting this afternoon," a statement read.

"Fulham lodged a request with the Premier League Board to rearrange the fixture following a significant rise in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as a number of players showing symptoms today.

"The Premier League Board has consulted its medical advisors and the decision to postpone the game has been taken as a precaution and with the health of players and staff as the priority. The group will now be retested immediately."

Manchester City's trip to Everton on Monday was called off four hours before kick-off after a number of City staff members and players returned positive tests. The meeting between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at the start of December also had to be rescheduled.

The latest postponement comes a day after the Premier League revealed 18 new positive COVID-19 cases among players and staff - the highest weekly total since the pandemic took hold.

However, despite calls from managers such as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce for a "circuit break" - a two-week pause from all football - the Premier League "has full confidence" fixtures can still go ahead as planned.

"With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the Premier League continues to have full confidence in its COVID-19 protocols and being able to continue to play our fixtures as scheduled," the statement added.

"The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in due course."

Shortly before the official announcement was made, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho took to social media to air his frustration at the lack of updates from league officials.

"Match at 6pm... We still don't know if we play. Best league in the world," he posted on Instagram.

Tottenham, who now face a possible fixture backlog in the coming weeks, said in a statement: "The Premier League informed us of the decision this afternoon, with Fulham having requested the postponement on the grounds of the number of COVID-19 positive cases among their players and staff.

"Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Fulham for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected. Details of a new date for the fixture will be confirmed in due course."

Fulham were without boss Scott Parker for their goalless draw with Southampton on Boxing Day after someone in his household tested positive for COVID-19.

The west London outfit confirmed their players and staff members to have returned positive tests are now quarantining.

"Those players and staff who tested positive have been self-isolating in line with UK Government and Premier League guidance," a statement on their official website read.

"We wish the players and staff who tested positive a safe and speedy recovery."

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

Tottenham's home Premier League clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed at short notice due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he cannot see the benefit of the Premier League temporarily halting action in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Premier League confirmed 18 new positive COVID-19 tests in the week commencing December 21 – the highest number of positive results in a single round of tests this season.

The news came just a day after Manchester City's game at Everton was postponed at four hours' notice due to a coronavirus outbreak at the Etihad Stadium, while Fulham's match against Tottenham on Wednesday is also in doubt.

Eighteen positive cases surpasses the previous high of 16 recorded in the week commencing November 9, and mirrors the wider situation in England, with more people now in hospital due to the virus than at the peak of the first wave in April.

West Brom head coach Sam Allardyce has called for a circuit break – a tight set of restrictions designed to reverse the tide of the pandemic – but Solskjaer is unsure what benefit that would bring. 

"As a club and as a group we've been really good at following the protocols," Solskjaer said after United's 1-0 win over Wolves on Tuesday.

"That's part of the job. I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break because when are we going to play the games?

"We all know this year is so difficult, but if you stop more games I don't think that's going to make a big change – it might be a longer one. When do we finish the season?"

Marcus Rashford's stoppage-time goal handed United all three points against Wolves at Old Trafford and moved the Red Devils up to second in the table, two points behind leaders Liverpool. 

The result stretched United's unbeaten run in the league to nine games, but Solskjaer said it is too early to start talking about a title challenge.

"There's no title race after 15 games," he added. "You can lose the chance of being in a race in the first 10 games. But play another 15, get to 30, and then maybe we can start talking about a title race."

Bruno Fernandes was once again instrumental in United's win, with his ball over the top leading to Rashford's late strike. 

Since his Premier League debut in February, the Portugal international has been directly involved in more goals in the Premier League than any other player (32 – 18 goals, 14 assists).

Solskjaer admitted it was not Fernandes' most stellar performance but he was pleased his perseverance paid off. 

"He didn't play his best game, definitely," he said. "He's played better games but he's always in and around creating chances.

"Maybe he made more for them than he did for us today! But he's got that knack of looking for that pass, and in the end it worked."

Pep Guardiola applauded Manchester City's victory over Newcastle United, describing the 2-0 triumph as their "performance of the season".

City eased past Newcastle thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of Premier League leaders Liverpool on Saturday.

Guardiola's City have kept 13 clean sheets in all competitions this season – more than any other team in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

Speaking afterwards, a happy Guardiola told reporters: "It was the best performance of the season. Our football has to be played in one rhythm so we cannot play in a rhythm that has ups and downs so quickly.

"You have to make a tempo that makes a lot, a thousand-million, passes in the right moment to attack. To do this everyone has to be in his position and everyone has to do his job. Today was a big example, unfortunately, playing a team always with 10 players behind is not easy to attack but the guys were really good.

"I'm so glad about the way we played. That's always a consequence for the points we get. We have another victory, we climb some positions, and now we can't stop in the good or bad moments, we need to be calm because in less than 44 hours we'll have another game and we're going to Goodison Park to try to play well first of all.

"The result is always the consequences of the way you played. This was our success in the past and we're going to continue in the next years."

Gundogan opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Torres doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half at home to visiting Newcastle.

Raheem Sterling's assist for Gundogan was his 150th goal involvement in all competitions since Guardiola joined City in 2016 (96 goals and 54 assists) – more than any other player at the club in that time, per Opta.

City have won all seven games in all competitions in which Torres has scored for the team, with five of his seven strikes coming at the Etihad Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker, meanwhile, missed the clash due to coronavirus, after the star City pair and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Asked about Jesus and Walker, City manager Guardiola said: "Listen the last thing I think right now is without Gabriel and Kyle is a problem for the team. What we want, what I want is Gabriel and Kyle being [tested] positive but not getting worse and being asymptomatic and pass these 10 days without any symptoms.

"COVID is here, it's not here in Manchester, it's in many cities all around the world. That's why we have to be careful and what we want is for them to recover in the next days. And we are going to wait for them. We are looking forward to seeing them again. Without them, we're going to move forward. The team, the guys who want to join us and commit to the team, what we want to do all together, they will more be than welcome.

"So the guys who think about what is best for the team, the guys who think I have to give something for the team, even it's worse for me those guys will be part of the team forever. If the guy doesn't want it, they will be the problem."

Andrea Pirlo should have kept quiet rather than wade in on Napoli's successful appeal against their 3-0 forfeit defeat to Juventus and one-point penalty, according to Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli did not turn up for their game in Turin in October and were also docked a point by Serie A after arguing they were banned from travelling by local health authorities as Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and a member of staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

Juventus also reported two positive cases among staff a day before the game but made clear they intended to play the match at the Allianz Stadium.

Pirlo named a starting XI but the game did not go ahead due to Napoli's absence and was officially abandoned, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruled the Partenopei had ignored the coronavirus protocols in place, which state a team must fulfil an fixture if they have 13 available players, including a goalkeeper.

Napoli refused to drop the matter and took the case to the Italian National Olympic Committee's (CONI) Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sports authority in the country – and it ruled in the club's favour on Tuesday, with the rescheduled game set to take place in 2021.

Pirlo appeared to take a swipe at the ruling this week, saying: "I'm sorry for the other teams who have travelled and lost points without saying anything, leaving and playing without those who had COVID-19. I'm more sorry for them than for us."

Napoli president De Laurentiis was not impressed with Pirlo's remarks and said he should stick to coaching instead of commenting on matters of law.

"Pirlo is not a lawyer by trade, he does not know certain procedures and does not know what has happened in terms of protocols," De Laurentiis told Radio Capital.

"Pirlo should be a coach and that's it, leave certain answers to his club representatives."

Houston Rockets star James Harden was fined $50,000 but avoided suspension for violating the NBA's health and safety protocols.

The Rockets' clash against the Oklahoma City Thunder, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed after three Houston players returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus.

Harden, who has reportedly requested a trade, was also unavailable after attending a private indoor party on Monday, a violation of the NBA protocols.

The NBA confirmed on Wednesday that the eight-time All-Star had been fined, but avoided a suspension.

"Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been fined $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols, which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, president, league operations," a statement read.

"Harden violated these rules when he attended a private indoor party on Monday, December 21."

Napoli have successfully appealed against the 3-0 forfeit defeat to Juventus and subsequent one-point penalty, with the game to be rescheduled in 2021.

Gennaro Gattuso's men did not turn up for their game in Turin in October and were also docked a point by Serie A for failing to fulfil their fixture obligations.

Napoli argued they were banned from travelling by local health authorities as Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and a member of staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

Juventus also reported two positive cases among staff a day before the game but made clear they intended to play the match at the Allianz Stadium.

Andrea Pirlo named a starting XI but the game did not go ahead due to Napoli's absence and was officially abandoned, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruled the Partenopei had ignored the coronavirus protocols in place, which states a team must fulfil an fixture if they have 13 available players, including a goalkeeper.

Napoli refused to drop the matter and took the case to the Italian National Olympic Committee's (CONI) Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sports authority in the country – and it ruled in the club's favour on Tuesday.

A statement on behalf of the Collegio di Garanzia confirmed the punishment had been "cancelled without postponement".

Lionel Messi is looking forward to football getting back to normal after admitting it is "horrible" to play games without fans present inside stadiums. 

Due to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, leagues across Europe continue to carry out fixtures behind closed doors in the 2020-21 season. 

This was also the case to finish the previous campaign, meaning Messi has not played in front of supporters at Camp Nou since LaLiga was paused in March. 

The Argentine superstar feels the impact of empty venues has been felt on the pitch too, as it negates any home advantage for teams and leads to more even contests. 

"It's horrible to play without fans. It's not a nice feeling," Messi told Marca after picking up the Pichichi award for finishing as LaLiga's top scorer in 2019-20. 

"Not seeing anyone in the stadium makes it like training, and it takes a lot to get into the game at the beginning.  

"That's why we see such even games. It's very hard to win whoever you are playing against. 

"The pandemic has caused football to change a lot, and for the worse. We are seeing it in games. Hopefully after all this is over, we can get people back into the stadiums and get back to normal."

Barca have certainly found it tough going in the league so far this campaign.

While Ronald Koeman's side have lost just once – against reigning champions Real Madrid – at home, they will go into the mid-season break off the pace in the title race. 

Messi acknowledges a slow start has left them with work to do in LaLiga, though he believes the situation could have been different had they been more ruthless in front of goal. 

"We are going to try and win everything, as is always the case with this club. We are improving little by little," he said.

"It's true to say that it took us a little while to get going in LaLiga. We shouldn't have dropped so many points.

"I think we deserved more in the games against Deportivo Alaves and Gefate, and also against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.

"In those three games we created a lot of goalscoring chances, and if we had converted them, the situation in those games would have been different."

While committed to helping Barca succeed on all fronts this season, Messi's long-term future at the club remains unclear having pushed to leave in the previous transfer window. 

The 33-year-old is in the final year of his contract and has been heavily linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

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