As more and more coronavirus cases across Europe come to light, it’s only right that the sporting authorities take the necessary precautions for the sake of public health and safety.
Though the blind panic that some have adopted seems a little over the top, there is a genuine threat to life in certain areas, and to that end, sport has to take a back seat.
For the next two weeks at least, any football in LaLiga will be played behind closed doors.
“According to information from the Higher Sports Council, LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank matches will be played behind closed doors, starting today and lasting for at least two weeks.”
Source | La Liga
Barca’s Champions League return against Napoli has also fallen victim to the outbreak, and there are even suggestions at this stage, that the Italian team won’t be able to leave the country.
‼️ | OFFICIAL | FC Barcelona’s La Liga matches against Mallorca (Away) scheduled for Saturday, March 14 and CD Leganes (Home) scheduled for Sunday, March 22 will be played behind closed doors due to coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/CoChr1axeb— Culé Source™ (@CuleSource) March 10, 2020
What’s happening right now is unprecedented, and we can only speculate as to what will happen next. The cancellation of league championships and tournaments such as the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020 is a very real possibility.
In the interim, there are very specific directives as to just who will be able to enter football stadiums in Spain until the next set of instructions are given.
The only personnel allowed are; Players, coaches and the officiating team, both team’s respective board of directors, technical personnel with responsibilities relating to the match (up to a maximum of 100 people), LaLiga delegates and anti-doping personnel, Police officers, stewards, private security, first aid personnel and firefighters, official photographers and social media managers for both teams and essential production staff for television companies. Press will only be able to cover the match by watching it on television.
With Barcelona’s home form having been so strong, and the supporters playing a huge part in making Camp Nou such an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams, there’s a school of thought that the blaugranes could suffer from having to play in an empty stadium.
Whilst the atmosphere will remain eerily quiet, it’s worth recalling that this isn’t a unique situation.
Though the circumstances were quite different, Barca had to play against Las Palmas back in 2017, and the lack of noise had little effect on the way in which the team played.
Yes, 90,000 people getting behind you will obviously get the adrenalin pumping, but on paper Barca have a better side arguably than Leganes and Napoli, and still have home advantage.
No protests against the board is a side issue, but the lack of that negativity might also help them. They may even fare better away at Mallorca on Saturday at what would surely have been a bouncing San Moix.
If Barca lose any of those three games, it will be because they were beaten by the better side, not because of a lack of atmosphere.
Trying to convince someone otherwise is disingenuous at best.