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Barcelona‘s vital Champions League game at Bayern Munich next week will be played without fans as new restrictions are introduced in Bavaria aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The German government has reacted to rising infection rates by imposing a 50% capacity limit on sporting stadia, with outdoor venues capped at a maximum of 15,000 fans.

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Bavaria, one of the 16 states in the country, has gone one step further, though, by deciding all matches should be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, Bayern’s game at home to Barca on Dec. 8 will be played in an empty Allianz Arena, as will their upcoming Bundesliga matches against Mainz and Wolfsburg.

However, 15,000 fans will be present for their top-of-the-table league fixture at Borussia Dortmund this weekend in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Barca released a statement on Friday which read: “Bayern Munich vs. FC Barcelona will be played behind closed doors.

“The game corresponding to matchday six in the Champions League will be played without fans in the stadium due to the serious increase in coronavirus cases in the German region of Bavaria in the last few weeks.”

Like Bavaria, Saxony has also decided games should be played behind closed doors, which means Manchester City‘s trip to RB Leipzig next week will be played without supporters.

Markus Soder, Bavaria’s prime minister, had warned earlier this week that a return to empty stadiums was necessary.

“Football matches should be without spectators again. Bavaria will do that,” Soder said on Twitter on Tuesday, adding that allowing fans in stadiums is too dangerous at the moment as it encourages people to travel.

“Football has a great role model function. We must now reduce contacts everywhere.”

Bavaria, one Germany’s hardest-hit states in the new wave of coronavirus, had already introduced a rule last week that football stadiums could only allow 25% capacity at matches.

Stadiums were only allowed to admit people who were vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 — and only if they could show a negative test.

Germany reported more than 73,000 new cases on Thursday while another 390 deaths were recorded — the highest daily figure since early March which brought the overall death toll to over 102,000.

Barca can book their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League if they win in Munich. However, a failure to do so could see them drop into the Europa League in the New Year.

If Benfica beat Dynamo Kiev on the same day, only three points against Bayern will be enough for Xavi Hernandez’s side make the knockout stages of the competition.

With one game to go, Bayern have already booked their place in the round of 16 with five wins from five. Barca are second in Group E with seven points, two ahead of Benfica.

In the event Barca and Benfica finish level on points — if Barca draw in Munich and Benfica win — the Portuguese side will advance courtesy of their superior head-to-head record.

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