Barcelona players will reportedly undergo coronavirus checks when they land in Naples this week, as authorities batten down the hatches to prevent the epidemic spreading further.
The hysteria surrounding the virus reached fever pitch in Italy over the weekend. There are more than 100 confirmed cases of the potentially deadly illness in the country, and as some towns in the north of the country go into effective lockdown, four Serie A matches were postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.
Inter vs Sampdoria, Atalanta vs Sassuolo, Hellas Verona vs Cagliari and Torino vs Parma were all postponed, and although the Naples region remains unaffected as it stands, it seems no chances are being taken.
Barca’s visit to Napoli is no exception, as the visiting players are to be checked to ensure they are not inadvertently bringing the virus into the country. ESPN report that the players and staff will have their temperatures taken and any showing signs of illness will be rushed straight to hospital.
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The Champions League last 16 clash will see Barcelona look to continue their recent recovery with an important first-leg win. They prepared for the trip by dismissing Eibar 5-0 on Saturday, Lionel Messi ending a brief goal drought in stunning fashion as he netted four.
Though an all-conquering and confident Messi will worry Napoli, they will fancy their chances of an upset. It hasn’t been all rosey since Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti, but Gli Azzurri have seen off title-chasing trio Inter, Juventus, and Lazio under their new boss, and go into the game with six wins in their last seven.
Currently, the fixture is not thought to be in doubt – though a postponement will come if the outbreak continues to sweep across the country.