Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has called on UEFA to move the club’s Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona from the Camp Nou after a spike in Covid-19 cases in the region.
The Serie A side are due at the Camp Nou on August 8 for the second leg of their clash with the tie level at 1-1 at the halfway point. Yet De Laurentiis told Sky Sport Italia that he is not happy with the tie going ahead in the current circumstances and wants it moved.
“The match against Barcelona will always be a great match. This summer we played two, then we had a third in the first leg of the last 16 in the Champions League. Now, we will play a fourth,” he said.
“We hear doubts and fears coming from Spain. UEFA is indifferent, there is no one who knows how to run the shop.
“If they have decided that the Champions League is done in Portugal and the Europa League in Germany, I think we should play the return leg in Portugal or Germany. I don’t understand why we must stay in a city that has major problems.”
The winner of the tie will progress to the finals of the tournament which are due to be held in Portugal from August 12-23.
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Barcelona Calm Despite Napoli Concern
De Laurentiis has made Napoli’s position clear but Barcelona remain confident the game will go ahead as planned, according to Samuel Marsden at ESPN.
Slow down for now. UEFA working on a worst case scenario plan (for all UCL last 16 games). Barça & Catalan health authorities both confident Napoli game can be played at Camp Nou. City not shut, still open to tourists etc…
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) July 30, 2020
Catalunya radio report that a UEFA representative has confirmed the game is still due to go ahead at the Camp Nou.
“The match is scheduled to be played in Barcelona, as already planned. We are monitoring the situation and in contact with the competent local authorities.”
Moving the match to a neutral venue is unlikely to go down well with Barcelona given they have already played the first leg at Napoli’s home. The Catalan giants also possess a formidable record at the Camp Nou in European competition and have not tasted defeat on their own turf since 2013.
Portugal is UEFA’s Plan B
If the tie does have to be moved then UEFA have already confirmed they have a Plan B in place which they will look to utilise. Board member Evelina Christillin told Radio Punto Nuovo about their alternative arrangements.
“Guimaraes and Oporto have been prepared as Plan B for some time, and are options for other difficult situations too.”
“For the moment, the decision remains to play at Camp Nou. I don’t know what the deadline is, but I do know what Plan B is, so the decision will be made based on advice from the Spanish Government.”
Barcelona will be keeping their fingers crossed that the tie does go ahead as planned but will be aware UEFA may be forced to take action if the situation in the city worsens in the coming days.