- Associated Press - Sunday, March 8, 2020

The global virus outbreak means there will be at least two stadiums without fans when the Champions League resumes this week with second-leg matches in the round of 16:



After reaching the final last season, Tottenham has an uphill task to make the quarterfinals this time round. A 1-0 deficit must be overturned without a recognizable striker in the team with both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min injured.

The North London club is enduring a five-game winless run in all competitions that began with the first-leg loss to Leipzig, including a draw at Burnley on Saturday that leaves the team seven points from the top four.

“As well as we play in some games, we’re not getting over the line,” said midfielder Dele Alli, who scored a penalty equalizer at Burnley. “I think we’ve shown the character we’ve had in this squad throughout the years we’ve been together. This is a very tough period for us in terms of results but I believe we can turn it around.”

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is grumbling about his squad shortages while preparing for the trip to Germany, complaining about the commitment of a fit player - record-signing Tanguy Ndombele.

Leipzig rested top scorer Timo Werner for the first hour of its 0-0 draw with Wolfsburg on Saturday. With or without Werner on the field, Leipzig looked weak in attack. The win over Tottenham was a bright spot this year for Leipzig, which has only four wins from 10 games in 2020.

German news agency dpa reported Monday that the game would go ahead as scheduled with fans, citing the Leipzig city government.


Atalanta has a 4-1 lead from the first leg and won’t have to worry about Valencia’s fans as the Italian team tries to reach the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time.

The game will be played without fans present as Spain tries to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Next week’s Europa League game between Getafe and Inter Milan will also be played without fans, but there are as yet no restrictions in place for the Barcelona-Napoli game on March 18 in the Champions League.

Empty stadiums are not new in the Champions League, but they’re typically a UEFA punishment for fan disorder or racism.

Atalanta has played only once since the first leg because the virus outbreak has interrupted the Italian league calendar. That was a 7-2 win over Lecce on March 1, the third time this season Atalanta has scored seven goals. It has a league-leading 70 goals from 25 Serie A games.

While Atalanta has nine days of rest before the game, Valencia is coming off a 1-1 draw with Alaves in the Spanish league on Friday.

It’s unclear how Atalanta can host a Champions League quarterfinal match. Atalanta is from Bergamo and plays its home European games at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. Both cities are covered by Italian government quarantine measures because of the virus.



Atlético Madrid heads to Anfield aiming to reproduce its gritty performance from the first leg, when the Spanish team played a perfect match according to the standards of coach Diego Simeone.

The 1-0 victory was decided by an early goal from Saúl Ñíguez and a defense that kept the defending champions from producing a single shot on goal. It was exactly the kind of no-frills victory sought by the Argentine coach who for several seasons has maintained his team as one of the toughest competitors in Europe.

Atlético travels to England after being held to a 2-2 draw by Sevilla in the Spanish league on Saturday. Portugal forward João Félix scored his second goal in three matches since returning from injury. He missed the first leg.

“We had a tough match here and there it will be even more difficult,” Atlético midfielder Marcos Llorente said. “We have to play our best from the very start at Liverpool because they will give it their all.”

Liverpool’s focus is on defending its European Cup with the Premier League trophy virtually wrapped up. With a 25-point lead, Liverpool only needs two wins from its remaining nine league games to be certain of ending the 30-year title drought.

Liverpool beat Bournemouth 2-1 on Saturday, recovering from the Champions League loss, its first defeat of the Premier League campaign against Watford and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea.

“The last few games hasn’t been at our levels and you are going to have a dip,” Liverpool midfielder James Milner said. “When you get a few poor performances, questions get asked but you have to remember it is not normal for what we have done.

“It is not a normal thing to win the amount of games we have won. As soon as you drop points, away in a Premier League game, that is probably a normal thing. Those are the standards we have set, so when it happens to us, all hell breaks loose. What the team has done this season has been unbelievable.”


PSG faces elimination from the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the fourth season in a row, and this time in an empty Parc des Princes.

Paris police said Monday fans would not be allowed to attend the game after France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

To make things more difficult, PSG forward Neymar has been short of match fitness after a rib injury forced him to sit out four games.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel wanted him fine-tuned for the return leg, but Neymar’s needless red card on Feb. 23 - for a wild lunge against a Bordeaux player - caused him to miss the next league game against Dijon because he was suspended.

Neymar missed another game when Saturday’s trip to play Strasbourg was called off because of the coronavirus outbreak. Since the Bordeaux game he’s played only once - in Wednesday’s French Cup semifinal win at Lyon.

Against his old club, Tuchel needs to decide whether to start with hardworking Edinson Cavani or the better finisher in Mauro Icardi, alongside near-certain starters Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Can Erling Haaland finish the job? That’s the key question for Dortmund after the 19-year-old Norwegian scored twice in the 2-1 first-leg victory.

Haaland has scored only once in three Bundesliga games since then - almost a goal drought by his prolific standards. However, he had a hand in both goals when Dortmund beat Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.

Haaland intercepted a loose Gladbach pass to set up Thorgan Hazard for the first goal. For the second, he went down hard in an aerial challenge, and his spectacular tumble distracted the defenders enough for Achraf Hakimi to score as the referee played the advantage.


This story has been corrected to show that games in Spain between Valencia and Atalanta in the Champions League and Getafe and Inter Milan will be played without fans, but that there are no restrictions in place for next week’s Barcelona-Napoli game in the Champions League.


More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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