Juventus to face Inter Milan on Sunday as Serie A announces weekend matches

Games to be played behind closed doors as government continues efforts to control coronavirus outbreak

Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Olympique Lyonnais v Juventus - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - February 26, 2020  Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo during the warm up before the match   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Five Serie A matches which were postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, including the clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, will take place on Sunday, the league said in a statement.

The matches will all be played behind closed doors following a government decree on Wednesday. The government has barred the public from all sports events until April 3 in a bid to curb Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak.

The other matches are Parma v SPAL, AC Milan v Genoa, Sampdoria v Verona and Udinese v Fiorentina, while a sixth game, Sassuolo v Brescia, will be played on Monday. The 27th round of matches, due to be played this weekend, will be rescheduled to a future date.

Second-placed Juventus are two points behind leaders Lazio with a game in hand while Inter are eight behind Lazio with two games in hand.

Earlier, the ban had applied to the three most affected regions of the country. The league had initially agreed to play in empty stadiums in those regions, then changed its mind last Saturday when it called the games off.

Ten Serie A matches were postponed while others went ahead, leading to what some coaches and officials have described as a "distorted" competition.

The teams will face a host of precautions which include not drinking from the same bottle, avoiding handshakes, using disposable wipes for turning on and off taps, disinfecting microphones before giving television interviews and avoiding selfies and autographs with fans.

Players will also be asked to avoid public places such as restaurants on their days off, according a report in Corriere dello Sport.

Several coaches last week expressed their dislike for playing at empty venues with Sampdoria's Claudio Ranieri saying it was "the death of football."

Yet Inter president Steven Zhang said on Thursday that there was no other way forward.

"It's difficult from many points of view and nobody likes it, but it’s necessary to go ahead with the calendar and all the activities, while putting public health above everything else," he said. "It's currently the only viable option."

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