Coronavirus in Scotland: Bayer Leverkusen says Europa League has been devalued

German club’s coach says it’s advantage Rangers

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Peter Bosz at Ibrox. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS

Bayer Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz has called for the Europa League to be put on hold until the coronavirus panic passes after claiming the competition is being devalued by closed-door clashes.

The Germans will face Rangers at a packed-out Ibrox tonight but next week’s Rhineland return will be staged with fans locked out of the BayArena as German authorities battle to combat the spread of the 
disease. Bosz says that means it is advantage Gers ahead of their last-16 showdown.

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There is still no guarantee the competition will even be completed after Uefa were forced to call off Sevilla’s first-leg meeting with Roma as well as the Inter Milan-Getafe tie in response to the Spanish government’s decision to place travel restrictions on flights from Italy.

Manchester United’s clash with LASK in Austria and Wolves’ first leg against Olympiacos in Athens are set to go ahead behind closed doors.

Bosz, right, knows there is no easy solution but the Dutchman was clear when he insisted playing games in empty stadiums is not the way to go.

He said: “Absolutely, it’s advantage Rangers but they are not to blame because they haven’t decided it. I’m looking forward to playing here, but when you play in front of home fans, they are for you and that’s an advantage if we, in turn, are playing in front of an empty stadium.

“To be honest, the competition has been devalued. Fans should be there. No one is to blame, but it is strange.

“What is happening in Europe at the moment is strange and next Monday (against Werder Bremen) we will play without fans which is something we shouldn’t do as we play for the fans as professional soccer players and they are not allowed to be there.

“I don’t know if it will be difficult to motivate the players as I haven’t experienced this before. I watched Juve against Inter behind closed doors and it was strange - you could hear everyone in the stadium saying everything.

“I don’t see anything different back in Germany. I live in Dusseldorf which they say is at the centre of it (coronavirus) so take care! But I don’t see anything different on the streets, all is normal.”

Like Braga in the previous round, Leverkusen – riding high in the Bundesliga in fourth – have been barred from training on the Ibrox pitch. Heavy downpours over Glasgow in recent weeks have taken the toll on the playing surface and Bosz is sympathetic to that situation.

“Sure I’m disappointed we can’t train on it because it is a rhythm you have in Europe - something special,” he said.

“You train in the stadium the night before, get used to the pitch, I always liked that.

“We had a little tour and the players went back to the hotel but, OK, we have to adapt to it.

“We trained in Germany in the morning before flying here. We can’t complain - it is what it is. A good pitch would have been important to us but we will still try to play our own style of offensive football.”