December 6 – Barcelona’s vital Champions League visit to Bayern Munich this week, one of the showpiece games of the group stage, is being played behind closed doors as new Covid restrictions begin to bite in the wake of the latest increase in cases.
Barca, second in Group E behind Bayern, are due at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday but the game is being played without fans “due to the serious increase in coronavirus cases in the German region of Bavaria in the last few weeks.”
Manchester City’s game at RB Leipzig tomorrow will also be played behind closed doors after the German state of Saxony went into partial lockdown last month.
Last week German federal and state leaders cracked down on fans in stadia by agreeing on a maximum attendance limit of 15,000 but individual states are allowed to set stricter rules.
Bayern have already qualified for the knockout stage but Barcelona will be eliminated if they fail to win and Benfica beat Dynamo Kyiv.
“It hits us very hard that we have to play in front of empty stands in the Allianz Arena again,” Bayern executive vice chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen said. “Without our fans in the stadium, football is only half as beautiful, to say nothing of the financial consequences.”
The first top-division Bundesliga game to be hit by the new rules in Bavaria was Augsburg’s game against Bochum on Saturday.
German authorities fear a fourth wave of COVID-19 after the country recorded 74,352 new infections and 390 deaths on Friday. Two cases of the new Omicron variant were also detected in Bavaria.
Bayern’s Bundesliga games at home to Mainz 05 (December 11) and VfL Wolfsburg (December 17) will also be played behind closed doors.
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