The Latest: Belgium changes Euro 2020 plans because of virus

·2 min read

The Latest on soccer’s European Championship:

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Belgium’s players will spend less time in St. Petersburg ahead of their third European Championship match because team management wants the squad to prepare “in a more COVID-safe environment.”

The change in Belgium’s plans comes as authorities in the Russian city say they are tightening anti-coronavirus restrictions from Thursday in an effort to curb a new spike in infections.

That includes closing food courts in the city’s shopping malls and its Euro 2020 fan zone.

Belgium’s squad was planning to fly to St. Petersburg for a three-day training camp starting the day after its second group match against Denmark in Copenhagen on Thursday. Instead it will return to its training base in Tubize near Brussels and fly to St. Petersburg the day before the game against Finland on June 21.

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Dejan Kulusevski and Mattias Svanberg will join up with the Sweden squad at the European Championship once they have finished their periods of isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The six players who were brought in to train in a reserve bubble alongside the Euro 2020 squad have been released.

Sweden team doctor Ander Valentin says Kulusevski and Svanberg “will return to us in the squad as soon as they are guaranteed infection-free.”

They returned positive tests on Tuesday.

Sweden’s first game at Euro 2020 is against Spain on Monday.

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Christian Eriksen has told his Denmark teammates to look forward to their European Championship game against Belgium on Thursday.

Three of Denmark’s players have spoken to the media for the first time since Eriksen’s collapse during Saturday’s game against Finland at Euro 2020.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg says Eriksen delivered a message via video link from the hospital that he is doing OK and that they should try to focus on playing the next game. He says seeing Eriksen smile gave him ”a form of energy” and that the team will play for the midfielder against Belgium.

Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated with a defibrillator. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel praised Denmark’s medical staff as ”heroes” who performed ”a miracle.”

Forward Martin Braithwaite fought back tears as he described praying for Eriksen on the field as he was getting treatment.

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Robert Lewandowski will make his first appearance at this European Championship on Day 4 of the tournament.

The FIFA player of the year will be Poland’s main scoring threat when the team takes on Slovakia in St. Petersburg in the middle of three Euro 2020 matches.

Scotland will play the Czech Republic in the first match of the day in Glasgow and Spain will take on Sweden in Sevilla in the last one.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press

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