Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said he’d be open to playing the second leg of his side’s UEFA Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus on neutral soil amid coronavirus concerns in Italy.
The French club hold a 1-0 advantage over Juventus after the opening leg at the Groupama Stadium in February, but there are doubts surrounding the deciding leg in Turin.
CNN’s Jay Croft wrote on Monday that 34 people in Italy have died from the coronavirus, COVID-19, with confirmed cases on the illness in the country reaching 1,694. The respiratory illness has been most prevalent in Italy’s northern regions, with many sporting events in those areas suspended until March 8, including a host of Serie A fixtures, via the Guardian.
Aulas, 70, spoke to reporters after Lyon defeated Saint-Etienne 2-0 at home on Sunday and said he’d be open to a neutral showdown for the second leg against the Bianconeri:
“UEFA will decide. There are new elements because their reserve team, that plays in Serie C, have been quarantined because four players have been affected. And this team was training with the 1st team. We will see what happens. I am waiting to see what UEFA will say. I hope the news is good and, at worst, if we have to play on neutral territory, then we will do it.”
Maurizio Sarri’s side may feel aggrieved if denied their opportunity to come back from behind without home advantage, especially with Serie A rivals Napoli and Atalanta also still in the Champions League.
There isn’t much room to maneuver considering all football fixtures on the continent must come to a close by May 24 due to Euro 2020 kicking off in June.