July 31, 2020 / 2:38 AM / 8 days ago

Napoli president concerned about playing in Barcelona

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Coppa Italia Semi Final Second Leg - Napoli v Inter Milan - Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy - June 13, 2020 Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis in the stands, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

(Reuters) - Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has said he is concerned about his side having to travel to Spain for their Champions League clash against Barcelona amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

UEFA confirmed this month that the remaining Champions League and Europa League round of 16 second-leg ties that were postponed because of COVID-19 in March would be played in the stadiums of the home teams.

The final stages of the Champions League, from the quarter-finals onwards, will be played as a mini-tournament in Portugal and the Europa League in Germany.

“I hear a lot of perplexity and fear coming from Spain and they’re acting like nothing is wrong. What does it take to say, ‘Don’t go to Barcelona but rather go to Portugal, Germany or Geneva?’” the Guardian quoted De Laurentiis as saying.

“If they’ve decided to play the Champions League in Portugal and the Europa League in Germany, I think we can go to Portugal or Germany for the last 16. I don’t understand why it should stay in a city that has a really critical situation.”

Napoli’s last-16 tie with Barcelona is poised at 1-1 ahead of the second leg at the Camp Nou on Aug. 8.

There has been a surge in COVID-19 positives in Spain with thousands of new cases reported on a daily basis, taking the country’s total tally to over 303,000 cases.

Players from Sevilla, Real Madrid and Almeria tested positive for the virus this week.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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