FC Barcelona will likely face Bayern Munich in an empty stadium next week when they play their must-win final match in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. The German champions will be playing without the benefit of the hometown crowd due to new restrictions that have been imposed by the state governor.

Bavaria governor Markus Söder will ban fans from entering the Allianz Arena as well as other big venues due to the rising number of novel coronavirus infections across Germany and many other countries in Europe. As of now, there is no policy in place nationwide, but Söder is keen on going ahead with the ban regardless of what the rest of the country's leaders decide.

A meeting is also expected to take place this week between the heads of each of the German states along with outgoing Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz.

According to a report by Spanish publication Marca, Söder said: "It makes no sense to allow spectators again for the foreseeable future. If that doesn't work on the federal level, we will do it for Bavaria alone."

Last year, months after the initial onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, football matches along with other sporting events resumed slowly behind closed doors. This allowed leagues and tournaments to be completed and be available to view on television, while also ensuring as little exposure as possible for the athletes and fans.

Months later, fans were slowly allowed into venues as vaccination rates picked up and infections dropped. However, despite soldiering through the Delta variant outbreak, Germany and other parts of Europe are currently experiencing high infection rates once more. As such, Söder believes that banning audiences would be the best course of action.

Bayern will be hosting Barcelona on Dec. 8, with the Catalans desperate to secure a victory and a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League. For their part, Bayern are already through to the next round as group leaders. They will miss their fans, and it will rob them of the chance to intimidate the visitors with home support.

Three days after hosting Barcelona, Bayern will again play at the Allianz arena against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Other Bavarian clubs will also be affected, along with teams in other sports.

Prior to the ban, Bayern was already allowed to operate to the full capacity of 75,000 spectators in their home stadium. After the most recent rise in infections, an initial cut to 25% capacity was imposed last week before a full ban is set to take place again.

Elsewhere in Germany, RB Leipzig will also be hosting Manchester City behind closed doors after the state of Saxony imposed the same ban. It appears that the rest of the country m ay soon follow.

Allianz Arena
Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena