Manchester United players’ experience of international tournaments will ensure the squad do not go stir crazy during the club’s potential 13-day lockdown in Cologne, according to defender Victor Lindelof.
Coronavirus safety protocols for the Europa League “mini tournament” in Germany mean United’s squad must remain in a “bubble” and can leave their hotel only for training sessions and matches.
It means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players could be cooped up in their hotel in Cologne for almost a fortnight should they follow up Monday’s quarter-final win by beating either Wolves or Sevilla in the last four at the 50,000-capacity RheinEnergie Stadion on Sunday. The final is due to be played at the same venue on Friday week.
But Lindelof believes United’s players have enough experience of being confined to restricted areas while representing their national teams at World Cups and other international tournaments that the situation is not unfamiliar.
“It’s going to be fine,” the Sweden centre-half said. “I think all the players have been playing tournaments. I’ve been away playing the World Cup, the Euros and everything.
Even if we’re not able to leave the hotel at the moment, we have things to do there so I think it will be fine. No problem at all.”
Whereas United’s players are accustomed to first-rate facilities on international duty, though, they have had to adjust to a drop in standards in Germany.
United had hoped to be given access to a Bundesliga club’s training base during their time in Cologne only to be told they were all being used in advance of the new German season next month. Instead, United were allocated training facilities from a fourth-tier German club by Uefa.
“The facilities are not the same as we’re used to, but that is no excuse,” Solskjaer said. “Every team has the same conditions. We’re used to having the best facilities around the world for recovery and preparation, and we just have to make the most out of a difficult situation in conditions that are hot and humid. But we've got six days to prepare for a game. There’s not many times we have that.”