Football: Man United, Arsenal Europa League matches moved to Italy

PARIS (AFP) – Manchester United and Arsenal’s first leg matches in the last 32 of the Europa League have been moved to Italy, Uefa announced on Tuesday (Feb 9), as coronavirus restrictions hit travel across Europe.

United will face Spain’s Real Sociedad in their away leg at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium in Turin, while Arsenal will travel to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to face Benfica.

In a statement, Uefa said that both matches would take place as originally scheduled on Feb 18, with United kicking off at 1755 GMT and Arsenal 2000 GMT.

Molde’s home leg with Hoffenheim, also scheduled for 2000 GMT on the same day, has been moved to Villarreal’s Estadio de la Ceramica.

United’s match was moved to the home of the Italian champions after the Spanish government on Tuesday extended a ban on flights from Britain, Brazil and South Africa from Feb 16 to March 2, in an attempt to stem the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

Only legal residents or nationals of Spain and the neighbouring micro-state of Andorra are currently allowed in on flights from these countries.

This is the fourth time that Spain has extended its restrictions on arrivals from Britain, which were initially put in place at the end of December.

Arsenal,meanwhile, cannot make their way to Lisbon as Britain has ruled that only essential travel to and from Portugal is permitted.

Spain’s decision to extend the ban on arrivals from Britain could also mean Chelsea’s visit to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Feb 23 is also moved.

Spanish media report that La Liga leaders Atletico are considering Bucharest or Genoa in Italy as alternatives.

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