The pandemic of our lifetime. With a moniker like that is it any wonder that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on such a small and relatively unimportant part of our lives as football? Across Europe, so many top players have suffered from the virus. Here’s an All COVID-19 XI that could just about eradicate any other team in world football.
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)
The soon to be 34 year old Costa Rican was one of a number of players who made their way to Ibiza for an end of season holiday in August, only to catch the virus. When you go to Ibiza, you have to expect to come back with some sort of disease, but this broke new ground.
In a strong field for the #1 jersey, Gigi Donnarumma also came down with the virus (under non-Ibiza circumstances) and proving that he was at long last able to catch something, so did Simon Mignolet.
Right fullback: Matt Doherty (Tottenham)
Doherty contracted the virus on the last international break, after Irish teammate Callum Robinson and some of his West Brom teammates had fallen ill.
Centre back: Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
The impactful German stopper tested positive for COVID back in October, alongside a selection of Bayern teammates. He returned to action in late November.
Centre back: Exequiel Garay (Valencia)
The veteran Argentine tested positive to COVID-19 all the way back in March, becoming the first La Liga player to publicly announce he had the virus. He was swiftly joined by close to half of the playing staff, and around a third of the off-field staff at the club.
Left fullback: Alex Telles (Manchester United)
United’s recent signing picked up the virus in October, missing four games at the beginning of the season, despite being asymptomatic.
It was thought that he was one of the unfortunate few to acquire COVID twice after another positive test on the recent international break. Fortunately, that proved to be a false positive.
Centre midfield: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
A poor start to the season for the enigmatic Frenchman can perhaps be attributed to testing positive for the virus in late August, just as the truncated pre-season was beginning. Fortunately for Pogba, he’s had plenty of time to recover as he sits on the United bench.
Centre midfield: Thiago Alacantara (Liverpool)
The Liverpool new boy contracted the virus in late September after experiencing minor symptoms. The 29 year old missed three games before returning for the controversial Merseyside Derby against Everton.
Attacking midfield: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Neymar was one of the Ibiza crew that picked up the virus. Of course, he was. It would be so disappointing if Neymar contracted the virus anywhere other than Ibiza.
Right wing: Mo Salah (Liverpool)
It would appear that the flying Egyptian contracted COVID at his brothers wedding back home in November. I’m sure that you, as a discerning reader, can decide for yourself it that’s true:
Left wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
The Portuguese legend tested positive whilst on international duty in October. As often happens when things don’t go his way, he took the news well, labeling the PCR test as ‘bullshit’ after a second positive test saw him unavailable to play against Barcelona in a Champions League tie.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
Zlatan doesn’t catch COVID; COVID catches Zlatan.