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Barcelona vs Napoli Champions League Clash in Spain is under COVID-19 Threat

On August 8, 2020, Spanish La Liga giants, FC Barcelona are scheduled to host Italian Serie A club, Napoli, at their home ground, Nou Camp but that plan is shaky as there has been a spike in the spread of the dreaded coronavirus in Spain.

Recall that the two teams met in February for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 in Naples, Italy, and the match ended 1-1. Since then, they were not able to play the second leg of the round due to the global outbreak of COVID-19.

After over four months of break from Champions League football, UEFA announced in July that the round should be played using the regular home and away format, and then the club that wins the round would join other clubs in Portugal for the remaining stages of the competition from August 11.

Unfortunately for UEFA, in the last seven days, Spain has been recording an increased number of confirmed coronavirus cases even within football clubs and footballers. For instance, footballers from Sevilla, Real Madrid, and Almeria have tested positive for the virus within the last seven days.

More so, on July 28, Spain recorded 1,828 new cases and 2 new deaths, on July 29, the country recorded 2,031 new cases and 5 new deaths while on July 30, Spain recorded 2,789 new cases and 2 new deaths. In total, the country now has 332,510 confirmed cases and 28,443 coronavirus related deaths.

While addressing the media on the surge of confirmed cases on Thursday, Spanish health minister Salvador Illa said: “The outbreak is worrying because of the density of the population.

“What is happening in Spain is happening in all the other countries in our region. This is a pandemic. We are on alert and acting appropriately. The majority of the outbreaks in Spain are under control.”

Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi forcing himself through Napoli's players during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match in Naples, Italy.
Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi forcing himself through Napoli’s players during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match in February 2020.

In reaction to the spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, UEFA said in a statement on Thursday that the European football governing body is monitoring the development but the match would still take place at the Nou Camp as planned.

“We are monitoring the situation and are in touch with the relevant local authorities,” UEFA said. “The match is scheduled to take place in Barcelona as planned.”

However, the president of Napoli, Aurelio De Laurentiis said in an interview that it was “embarrassing” that UEFA had to take the match to Spain despite the spike in COVID-19 confirmed cases in Spain as a whole, especially in Catalonia, the home city of FC Barcelona.

“I don’t understand why we have to go to a city that at the moment has huge problems,” De Laurentiis told an Italian news outlet. “You hear huge fears from Spain, and UEFA just ignores the issue. I’m calling them constantly but it’s embarrassing.

“How long would it take just to say that we could play in Portugal, Germany, or Switzerland? It seems like we’re back in school – nobody in UEFA knows how to do business.”

As it stands, the match could still take place at the Nou Camp as planned but there is a high possibility of being taken to a neutral venue if the spike in confirmed coronavirus cases persists.

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