27.02.2020 23:26 h

Juve v Inter among five games behind closed doors due to coronavirus

The clash between Juventus and title rivals Inter Milan is among five Serie A games which will be played behind closed doors this weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the Lega Serie A confirmed on Thursday.

The other four are Udinese against Fiorentina, AC Milan at home to Genoa, Parma against SPAL and Sassuolo versus Brescia.

Italy has the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe with 650 people infected and 17 deaths.

The Italian government has ordered matches be played behind closed doors in six northern regions most affected by the outbreak.

Inter Milan are third in the Serie A table, six points behind leaders Juventus after their game against Sampdoria was also among four postponed last weekend.

Antonio Conte's Inter will play their second game on front of an empty stadium in Turin after Thursday's Europa League last 32, second leg clash against Bulgarian club Ludogorets in the San Siro.

"It's certainly a surreal situation," said Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta before Thursday's match which had just a few hundred people present.

"The public is a fundamental component of football, without the audience emotions are diminished.

"But there is a very clear decree that is valid until Sunday at midnight, playing behind closed doors is a forced thing but the protection of citizens must be safeguarded.

"We accept, albeit reluctantly, these decisions."

A decision has yet to be made on Monday's Serie A game between Sampdoria and Hellas Verona.

Four Serie B matches will also be played behind closed doors -- Cittadella versus Cremonese; Chievo against Livorno; Venezia versus Cosenza and Virtus Entella against Crotone.

The clash between Juventus and Inter, known as the 'Derby d'Italia' is one of the high points of the football season, between two of the most titled teams in the country.

The two teams are battling for the Serie A title this season with Lazio, who are second one point behind Juventus, who won the reverse fixture 2-1 in the San Siro.

It will also mark the return of Inter coach Antonio Conte to Turin where he played for 13 years and coached Juventus to three Serie A titles in their current run of eight.

Italian sport has been hit hard by the spread of coronavirus.

A Six Nations rugby match between Italy and Ireland in Dublin on March 7 has been called off, and the alpine skiing World Cup Finals -- due to take place in Italy next month -- will be held without any fans on the slopes.