May 4, 2020 / 5:01 PM / a month ago

Soccer-Portuguese clubs resume training after coronavirus stoppage

LISBON, May 4 (Reuters) - Portugal’s top flight soccer clubs, including Porto and Benfica, resumed training on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus stoppage amid plans to restart the top league on May 30.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday that training could re-start as he announced plans to relax the coronavirus lockdown. Portugal has been spared the huge death tolls in neighbouring Spain and some other Western European countries.

The Primeira Liga has been on hold since March 12.

Porto said that the players underwent medical tests and were then divided into three groups for practice to conform with social distancing guidelines.

Benfica coach Bruno Lage said that the situation was “unprecedented for coaches and footballers”.

“We will try to find the best solutions and the best way of staying connected, even when we are a distance apart,” he said, referring to the social distancing measures.

“We’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time; to return to Seixal (Benfica’s training group), return to the grass, and prepare for the rest of the 2019/20 season,” he told the club’s website.

“We know that, for the worst possible reasons, the situation is far from ideal.”

Portuguese media said that most of the 18 top flight teams are back in training.

Porto have a one-point lead over bitter rivals Benfica with 10 rounds of matches to play. (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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