Barca UCL decider at Bayern to be without fans

Barcelona‘s vital Champions League game at Bayern Munich next week will be played without fans as new restrictions are introduced in Bavaria aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Bayern’s Bundesliga win over Arminia Bielefeld last weekend was played in front of around 12,000 supporters, with the capacity at the Allianz Arena capped at 25%.

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However, Markus Soder, Bavaria’s prime minister, said a return to empty stadiums is necessary as governments across the world bring in new measures to deal with the emergence of the omicron variant of the virus.

Barca released a statement on Friday which read: “Bayern Munich v FC Barcelona will be played behind closed doors.

“The game corresponding to matchday in the Champions League will be played without fans in the stadium due to the serious increase in coronavirus cases in the German region of Bavaria in the last few weeks.”

Bayern’s upcoming Bundesliga games at home to Mainz and Wolfsburg before the end of the year will also be played behind closed doors, with Soder saying the restrictions will be brought in for the “foreseeable future.”

Several other professional clubs in Bavaria, including Bundesliga side Augsburg, will also be affected by the new rules.

“Football matches should be without spectators again. Bavaria will do that,” Soder said on Twitter on Tuesday, adding that allowing fans in stadiums is too dangerous at the moment as it encourages people to travel.

“Football has a great role model function. We must now reduce contacts everywhere.”

Bavaria, one Germany’s hardest hit regions in the new wave of coronavirus, last week introduced a rule that football stadiums — including the home of Bayern — could only allow 25% capacity at matches.

Stadiums were only allowed to admit people who are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, and only if they could show a negative test.

Germany reported 45,753 new infections on Tuesday while another 388 deaths were recorded — the highest daily figure since early March which brought the overall death toll to 101,344.

Barca can book their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League if they win in Munich on Dec. 8. However, a failure to do so could see them drop into the Europa League in the New Year.

If Benfica beat Dynamo Kiev on the same day, only three points against Bayern will ensure Xavi Hernandez’s side make the last 16 of the competition.

With one game to go, Bayern have already booked their place in the last 16 with five wins from five. Barca are second in Group E with seven points, two ahead of Benfica.

In the event Barca and Benfica finish level on points — if Barca draw in Munich and Benfica win — the Portuguese side will advance courtesy of their superior head-to-head record.

Information from Reuters was also included in this report.

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