When Alex Sandro’s positive COVID-19 test became known on Monday, the first thought that many of us around here had was just how many players could be infected as a result of it. Juve had just played 24 hours earlier and had plenty of goal celebrations in their 4-1 win over Udinese at Allianz Stadium.
Then Juan Cuadrado also tested positive on Tuesday and those thoughts became legitimate worries that some kind of outbreak could slowly take place over the next few days.
That is something that also has local health officials in Turin worried — for obvious reasons knowing that this is very much a highly contagious disease — and could very well impact Juventus’ trip to Milan for Wednesday night’s showdown with league leaders AC Milan at the San Siro.
In an interview with the Corriere di Torino on Tuesday, Dr. Roberto Testi, the director of the Department of Prevention at the Turin ASL, said that the local health authority will likely step in and prevent Juve from traveling to Milan if the club sees more COVID-19 positives over the next 24 hours (or even before the club leaves for Milan). The full quote:
“Juventus have informed us that two of their players tested positive. At this moment, we do not have the evidence required to say there is a hotspot within the squad, because we know how the two players were infected and why the others are negative.
“If there should be more positive tests today and the evidence of an uncontrolled breakout within the squad, that would become a problem of safety for the other players.
“Clearly, at that point, the ASL would be forced to intervene, isolating everyone and blocking Juve’s departure towards Milan.”
(Source: Football Italia)
The key to this is that, as the good doctor says, Juventus “at this moment” is not considered any kind of COVID-19 hotspot. They are currently in their bubble (again) at the J Hotel and are scheduled to leave for Milan come Wednesday morning. You would assume that Juventus’ players and staff will undergo another round of COVID-19 testing before their departure. That’s on top of the testing they’ve been doing on a regular basis per the Serie A and FIGC protocols that have been in place for months now.
The difference between this potential outbreak and the one that happened back in March when Daniele Rugani’s positive test kicked off this same line of thinking is that Serie A (and the rest of Europe) were headed toward a lockdown and the next Juventus game was going to be months in the future. This time around, there’s not just a big game on Wednesday night, but six more games to go before the month of January is over.
The health authority, just like what we saw when Napoli was not allowed to travel north to Turin back at the beginning of the season, does not care about the games being played. They care about the health of the people who live in their regions, and their goal is to try and avoid outbreaks like what we saw with Genoa earlier this season when it seemed like 75 percent of their squad was testing positive.
Basically, what will determine Juventus’ ability to travel is their ability to contain the virus to just Sandro and Cuadrado. If there are no other positives, they get to play. That’s a tricky thing to do since this virus has different incubation periods for different people. But, if you see Juve players actually getting on a bus and heading for Milan on Wednesday morning, you can assume that they’ve gotten the green light from the local health authority to do so.
UPDATE NO. 1: Essentially contradicting what was originally said by the local Turin health authority, Piedmont COVID assessor Matteo Marnati has not only said he’s spoken with Dr. Testi but also has gone as far to say that the Juve-Milan game is a virtual lock to happen.
“(Testi) assured me no decision has been made and the situation is not considered at all serious. There is an existing protocol and two cases is not enough to warrant intervention, other than perhaps suggesting the close contacts of the players self-isolate.
“The controls in and around football are now so strict that it is highly unlikely they need to do anything other than what is already in the protocol. Even five COVID cases wouldn’t be enough to warrant an intervention of that type. I can assure you that Milan-Juventus will 99.9 per cent go ahead tomorrow.”
(Source: Football Italia)
Take those comments as you like.