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La Liga matches, Barcelona vs. Napoli behind closed doors due to coronavirus

La Liga matches, Barcelona vs. Napoli behind closed doors due to coronavirus

Steve Nicol says Barcelona are ordinary outside of Lionel Messi and lack connections this season.

Top-flight football in Spain will be played behind closed doors for at least the next two weeks as the coronavirus continues to spread across Europe, La Liga announced on Tuesday.

The ban on supporters attending games also will extend to the country’s second division.

A statement from La Liga read: “According to information from the High Council of sports [CSD], La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank matches will be played behind closed doors, starting today [March 10] and for at least the next two weeks.

“La Liga will continue to be in permanent contact with the Ministry of Health and the CSD to follow its recommendations and / or decisions, prioritising the health of fans, players, club employees, and journalists due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“For weeks, La Liga has been working on alternative plans in coordination with UEFA in case health authorities decide to suspend any match, creating a plan to play these matches.”

The first game affected will be Real Madrid’s match against Eibar this Friday in the Spanish capital, where all schools and education centres will remain closed for the next two weeks in an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Other matches affected this weekend include Barcelona’s trip to Mallorca and the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis.

The decision follows confirmation earlier in the day that Barca’s game against Napoli in the Champions League on March 18 also will be played behind closed doors.

Barca met with local government officials on Tuesday and quickly reached a decision to play the match against the Italian side without supporters. Barcelona drew 1-1 at Napoli in the first leg.

– Coronavirus: Cancellations and reactions in sports

It was announced on Monday that Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday also will be played in an empty stadium. 

Valencia’s match against Atalanta on Tuesday and Juventus’ game against Lyon next week also will be played behind closed doors. Chelsea’s trip to Bayern Munich also is expected to be played without supporters, although there has been no official confirmation. 

RB Leipzig vs. Tottenham, Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid and Manchester City vs. Real Madrid are, as things stand, going ahead without restrictions.

A number of fixtures also have been affected in the Europa League this week, including Manchester United’s trip to Austrian side LASK, Roma at Sevilla, Wolves at Olympiakos and Getafe at Inter Milan. All those matches go ahead behind closed doors.

Gdansk will host the Europa League final and on Tuesday it was announced that all games in the Polish top flight will be played behind closed doors until further notice. 

The Catalan secretary for sport, Gerard Figueras, said on Monday that “caution would advise” Barca closed Camp Nou for Napoli’s visit.

That decision, sources explained, became a much easier one to take once Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced lockdown measures for the entire country on Monday.

All public gatherings and events in Italy — including the Italian top flight, Serie A — have been suspended until at least April 3 as the country grapples to control Europe’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus.

In France, the sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has said that until April 15, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches (France’s two fully professional football leagues) will either be played behind closed doors or with 1,000 spectators depending on the wishes of the organiser.

Germany’s Bundesliga is also studying the possibility of playing all fixtures behind closed doors, with Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Cologne the first match to be officially announced with preventative measures in place. 

Talks have taken place in England, too, about a contingency plan if the coronavirus continues to spread but there are no plans to place restrictions on supporters or cancel games in the short term.

On Tuesday, it was also announced that Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff against Slovakia would go ahead, but behind closed doors. 

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