Atletico ready to go after group training

Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix trains with his teammates at the club's Wanda Sport complex.
Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix trains with his teammates at the club's Wanda Sport complex.

Atletico Madrid's players would be happy to re-start the season next weekend after training together on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, striker Joao Felix has said.

Atletico joined clubs across Spain's top two divisions in training in groups of up to 10 players after getting the green light from the government to move into the penultimate stage of the league's four-phase plan to return to activity.

The top-flight La Liga have said they hope to resume the final 11 rounds of matches, which will be played without spectators, from June 12, although the return to competition requires the approval of the government.

And Atletico forward Felix said his side were "feeling very good and are very excited about playing again."

Felix added: "If it were up to us we would return this weekend but we'll have to wait and work hard so we can get off to a good start.

"We worked hard at home to make sure we didn't tlose our fitness and it's been easy to get back to doing cardio work. Now we're starting to work with the ball again and will do that every day so we can return to normality.

"It's the first day we have been able to come together and we have been playing lots of small sided games which is what we love doing and what we were missing the most. I missed playing against my team mates and scoring goals."

Atletico were sixth in the standings when the season was provisionally suspended on March 12 but were only one point behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad who occupy the final Champions League spot.

Atleti are also into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having knocked out holders Liverpool in the last match they played before the season was put on hold.

Meanwhile, Spanish second division side Rayo Vallecano refused to turn up for the first day of group training due to a dispute with the club over a pay cut for staff and players,.

In May, Rayo joined a large number of Spanish clubs in introducing a temporary pay cut underwritten by the government, known as an ERTE, after the season was provisionally suspended.

Coach Paco Jemez criticised the pay cut, however, arguing that it was not necessary as the club was in a healthy state financially, and called for all non-playing staff to receive their full wages during the period.

Australian Associated Press