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'No Danger Of' Barcelona vs. Napoli Being Behind Closed Doors Due to Coronavirus

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2020

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 25: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Mario Rui of SSC Neapel and Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona at Stadio San Paolo on February 25, 2020 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Spain's Minister of Health has confirmed Barcelona's UEFA Champions League tie with Napoli does not need to be played behind closed doors amid concerns over the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Barca will host Napoli at the Camp Nou in the second leg of their last-16 tie on March 18.

Salvador Illa told RAC1 (h/t Football-Italia):

"The match is not at risk. There is no danger of the game having to be played behind closed doors.

"We have decided to close the stadiums only for the games that would be attended by people from the affected areas but that's not the case here.

"The only thing that we are preoccupied with is the exodus of many fans.

"The Champions League game between Barcelona and Napoli could be played regularly, as Naples is not currently in the zone at risk, like northern Italy."

Illa's comments come after UEFA confirmed Atalanta's Champions League clash with Valencia and Inter Milan's UEFA Europa League match with Getafe will be played in empty stadiums:

UEFA @UEFA

Following decisions taken by authorities in Italy and Spain respectively, and related to measures regarding the COVID-19 virus, two UEFA club competition matches will go ahead next week as scheduled, but behind closed doors... 🇪🇸 Valencia v Atalanta 🇮🇹 🇮🇹 Inter v Getafe 🇪🇸

Italy has been hit hard by the virus:

Bill Neely @BillNeelyNBC

Another big spike in #coronavirus numbers in #ITALY. Death toll has again doubled in 48 hours- 148 dead now, 41 more than y’day. 3,858 infected- nearly 800 more than y’day. Its daily infections are 4 times higher than China’s.

Only China, where the virus was first discovered, and South Korea have had more confirmed cases.

Bergamo—where Atalanta are basedand Milan are located in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been one of the worst affected by the outbreak of the virus. Naples is in the southern region of Campania.

All matches to be played in Italy until April 3 will take place behind closed doors.

Several fixtures that were supposed to be played last weekend were also postponed, including Juventus' clash with Inter, a match that could have significant ramifications for the title race. It will be played on Sunday.

Barca and Napoli played out a 1-1 draw at the latter's San Paolo Stadium on February 25.

Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Dries Mertens' opener, giving the Catalan giants an away goal to bring back to the Camp Nou.

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