Monday, May 16, 2022

Juventus star Locatelli suffers COVID-19 blow after Champions League exit, could miss Italy play-off

SoccerNews in Serie A 17 Mar 2022

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Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli has tested positive for COVID-19, delivering a blow to the Serie A club and the Italy national team.

The 24-year-old is set to miss the Serie A clash with Salernitana on Sunday, and depending on his recovery he could also be a doubt for next week’s World Cup qualifying play-off against North Macedonia.

The test outcome was revealed on Thursday, a day after Locatelli played 83 minutes as Juventus lost 3-0 to Villarreal and tumbled out of the Champions League.

Juventus said in a statement: “Juventus Football Club announces that Manuel Locatelli’s COVID-19 positivity emerged today. The player, in agreement with the local health authority, has already been placed in solitary confinement.”

The Turin giants suffered huge disappointment with their European exit, conceding three times in the final 12 minutes – twice after Locatelli was replaced – to be denied a place in the quarter-finals.

Juventus sit fourth in Serie A and remain in with an outside chance of challenging for the Scudetto, sitting seven points behind leaders Milan with nine rounds of games remaining.

News of Locatelli’s positive test is bound to concern Italy boss Roberto Mancini as he finalises plans for the Azzurri’s upcoming quest to reach Qatar 2022.

The European champions are due to face North Macedonia on March 24 in Palermo, with the winner of that game going forward to a March 29 tussle against Portugal or Turkey, to decide who goes to the finals.

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