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Napoli chief Aurelio De Laurentiis wants Champions League tie at Barcelona moved to Portugal

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has called for his side’s Champions League game with Barcelona to be moved to Portugal because of a rise in coronavirus cases in Catalan city.  

The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Naples in February and they are due to play the second leg at the Nou Camp on August 8.

However, the Catalonia region has experienced the worst incidence of Covid-19 cases in Spain since the lifting of the national lockdown last month, with a daily increase of 944 cases reported last week.

The British government brought back its 14-day quarantine for travellers coming to the UK from Spain following the spike in cases after 10 people tested positive upon their return.

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the country and Spanish officials have also warned a second wave could be imminent. 

And Napoli are concerned over the safety of playing the match in Barca with De Laurentiis suggesting it should be moved to Portugal.

‘I hear a lot of perplexity and fear coming from Spain and they’re acting like nothing is wrong,’ the chief said as quoted in The Sun.

‘What does it take to say, “Don’t go to Barcelona but rather go to Portugal, Germany or Geneva?”

‘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 round of 16.

‘I don’t understand why it should stay in a city that has a really critical situation.’ 

The other last-16 second legs are due to take place at their original venues with Manchester City set to play Real Madrid at the Etihad on August 7 while Juventus will take on Lyon in Turin on the same day. 

But Real striker Mariano will not be available for the trip to Manchester after he tested positive for the virus following a short holiday.

UEFA issued a statement after the positive result, maintaining they were confident the case would not affect the original staging of the match in the UK. 

Chelsea will play Bayern Munich on August 8 with Frank Lampard’s side looking to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The quarter-finals onwards will be completed in two stadiums in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, over just one leg in a World Cup-style mini-tournament. The final will take place at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on August 23.

Napoli took the lead in the first leg with Dries Mertens putting them ahead in the first half before Antoine Griezmann levelled for the LaLiga side. The winners of the tie will play either Bayern or Chelsea.

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