While the football world may be at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, that's not stopping transfer rumours from swirling in their usual manner, with Sevilla's Diego Carlos a name persistently mentioned of late.

A Brazilian centre-back recruited from Nantes last year in a reported €15million deal, the 27-year-old is enjoying a fine debut campaign in LaLiga, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite and key member of Julen Lopetegui's team, who are third in LaLiga.

An impressive physical specimen, athletic and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Diego Carlos has been most intensely linked with Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big fan and has apparently identified him as a potential partner for Virgil van Dijk.

But Barcelona and Real Madrid have also been mentioned as admirers, having been able to have a close-up look at him in LaLiga.

With a €75m release clause, Diego Carlos certainly won't come cheap – but we've examined Opta's data to compare him with 16 of Europe's best centre-backs…

THE HOLLYWOOD PASS

The Sevilla team Diego Carlos plays in is quite direct, as such it's no surprise to see he plays a large portion (229) of his passes long – of our select group, only Van Dijk (281), Leonardo Bonucci (249) and Mats Hummels (235) have attempted more.

That undoubtedly impacts his overall pass accuracy of 83 per cent, the worst of the 17 players examined. However, Sergio Ramos has attempted only 10 fewer long-range passes, yet his overall completion rate is significantly better at 91 per cent.

His accuracy is even more unimpressive in the opposition's half, as it comes down to 64 per cent, compared to Ramos and Clement Lenglet at 87 per cent. Nevertheless, Sevilla's vertical style of play is significantly different to the setups of Real Madrid and, in particular, Barcelona, while the data does not take into account how difficult each pass was.

Regular Sevilla watchers will tell you Diego Carlos has a penchant for an eye-catching cross-field pass, but the data doesn't lie – many don't reach their target.

Only 48 per cent of his long-range passes find a team-mate, which again is the worst of the players analysed. It poses the question as to whether such a direct system is suited to Diego Carlos' attributes.

He is less prone to giving the ball away when distributing short – as you would expect most players to be – as he finds a Sevilla player with 90 per cent of those passes, but only Harry Maguire (89 per cent) has a lower record in this scenario, the highest being Presnel Kimpembe (96 per cent).

MUSCLE FOR A TUSSLE

Don't let his clean-cut, well-coiffed exterior fool you - one thing Diego Carlos certainly cannot be accused of is shying away from collision. He has been involved in 196 duels this season, with only Maguire (287), Van Dijk (247), Ramos (213) and Mats Hummels (205) from our select group recording more.

The Brazilian's success rate of 56 per cent in those duels is middling, though. Van Dijk leads the way here, coming out on top 75 per cent of the time in such situations.

But Diego Carlos does come off fairly well with respect to tackling, having attempted 30 and been successful 19 times. That gives him a success rate of 63 per cent, better than 10 others in this select group, including Van Dijk (55 per cent) and Ramos (62 per cent).

Diego Carlos isn't dribbled past very often either, with only eight occurrences of that this term. Six of the chosen group have better records, though three of them are on seven and only one – Leonardo Bonucci (two) – has been beaten fewer than six times.

GET RID!

The clearances metric is where Diego Carlos performs best. He has found himself in the right position to clear danger 128 times in 2019-20, the third best among defenders in LaLiga.

Only Van Dijk (135) and Maguire (132) have a better record in this area from our group, though it's worth bearing in mind the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and others do not find themselves in defensive situations as often as Sevilla.

He also leads the way in terms of headed clearances in LaLiga with 71, just shy of Maguire's 80, while Diego Carlos' 25 interceptions is a solid effort as well, though it is some way behind the Manchester United captain's 53.

While it's fair to say Diego Carlos still has areas of his game that can be improved, it's worth stressing that some data points reflect – or are influenced heavily by – the team's setup.

Although the accuracy of Diego Carlos' long passes – a feature of Sevilla's direct system – leaves a mark against his name here, as an out-and-out defender, he is not disgraced when compared to a group of centre-backs most would consider the elite, an applaudable feat given this is only his fourth season in one of Europe's top-five leagues.

Defenders included in the select group: Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard, Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Milan Skriniar, Kalidou Koulibaly

 

Real Madrid's top defensive transfer target is apparently known, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic may be set for Paris Saint-Germain.

While Madrid are said to be chasing a goalscorer, it seems they also have a defender in mind.

Meanwhile, PSG's interest in Milinkovic-Savic has reportedly been renewed.

 

TOP STORY – UPAMECANO MADRID'S TOP TARGET

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is top of Real Madrid's defensive wish list, according to AS.

Upamecano, 21, has regularly been linked with a move, with Arsenal among those understood to be interested in the France youth international.

AS reports Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane wants to freshen up his defensive options.

ROUND-UP

- Contracted at Lazio until 2024, Milinkovic-Savic is still wanted by Europe's top clubs. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports PSG are interested in the midfielder, with €100million likely to be needed to land the 25-year-old.

- Valencia could be ready to let Geoffrey Kondogbia go. The Evening Standard reports they may be prepared to sell the midfielder for around £26.4m (€30m) amid apparent interest from Tottenham. Kondogbia is believed to have a release clause of €80m.

- Could Hector Bellerin head back to Spain? The Mirror reports Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are interested in the Arsenal right-back, who is a three-cap Spain international and started his career at Barcelona.

- Felipe Anderson has impressed at West Ham and is linked with a move away. The Mirror says the Premier League club could listen to offers of €47.8m (£42m) for the Brazilian, who is apparently wanted by Napoli.

- Chris Smalling may return to Manchester United after all. The Sun reports the defender, who has starred on loan at Roma, is set to head back to the Premier League club with the Serie A side unable to make the move permanent.

Harry Kane is seemingly still an option for Real Madrid.

The LaLiga giants reportedly want to add a forward this close season and are linked with numerous players.

While Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is believed to be their main target, it appears Kane is an option.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID STILL CONSIDERING KANE

Tottenham forward Kane is still an option for Real Madrid, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kane, 26, has been linked with a move away from Spurs previously, having been prolific with the Premier League club.

The England international has scored 17 goals in 25 games this season.

ROUND-UP

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho's future appears set to continue for a while. The Mirror reports Tottenham could join the race for the playmaker, who is expected to leave Barcelona permanently in the close season. Coutinho is on loan at Bayern Munich this season and Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the Brazil international.

- Could Juventus get a deal done for Mauro Icardi? Tuttosport reports the Serie A giants could sell left-back Alex Sandro to raise funds for a move for Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter this season.

- Napoli may be preparing for life without Kalidou Koulibaly. Corriere dello Sport reports I Partenopei are following Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos, while Koulibaly is linked with a big-money move to PSG or Manchester United.

- Only 21, Houssem Aouar has already made more than 100 appearances for Lyon. AS reports Real Madrid are tipped to make a move for the France youth international midfielder.

- Out of contract attacker Pedro is set to leave Chelsea. Corriere dello Sport reports Roma are interested in the former Barcelona man.

Sevilla have become the latest LaLiga club to cut player wages by 70 per cent in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have each reduced player salaries by the same margin, with the savings used in part to ensure non-playing staff receive wages in full.

Sevilla have requested an ERTE – a file of temporary employment regulation, which is required to take such actions under Spanish law – that will affect 254 sporting and 106 non-sports staff as "unwanted but necessary measures".

A club statement read: "Given the current situation that Spanish society is going through, following the pandemic caused by the COVID-19, Sevilla FC is forced to take unwanted but necessary measures to face one of the most complicated moments in its 130 years of history, a situation never before experienced that requires the effort, sacrifice and commitment of all the members of the institution.

"The confinement and paralysis of sports activities, established by the government when decreeing the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 health crisis, as well as the indefinite suspension of LaLiga and European competitions, has substantially affected the main activity of the club. 

"For this reason, the board of directors of Sevilla FC, in an exercise of responsibility, has decided to present before the Andalusian Labour Authority, a file of temporary employment regulation (ERTE), for the period that the decreed state of emergency lasts and the activity of this club is affected."

The 70 per cent wage cut applies to men's and women's first teams, Sevilla's youth team and all coaching staff, while a further announcement about the full extent of that agreement will be disclosed in due course.

"The board of directors would like to thank the first-team staff and the technical staff for their willingness that has made it possible to reach a more far-reaching principle of agreement that will materialise in the coming days."

Sevilla's board members and executives will also take voluntary pay cuts.

With most of the world still operating under lockdown conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic, most professional sport is on hold for the foreseeable future.

Given the outbreak occurred at a particularly inopportune moment for top-level football in Europe, the situation has bred uncertainty across most leagues – including Spain's LaLiga.

Competitions in Europe are facing the question of whether finishing the season, regardless of the impact it may have on future campaigns, should be the priority once normality returns.

The current focus does appear to be on concluding the 2019-20 campaign. However, even with Euro 2020 pushed back by 12 months, clubs and leagues are still having to work to tight schedules, with UEFA hoping seasons finish by the end of June.

While the discussion over how to complete the schedule continues, the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers behind the scenes.

With all of the division's teams having completed 27 of 38 matches, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.

The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.

BARCELONA CROWNED CHAMPIONS WITH 83 POINTS

The results in the statistical model see Barcelona crowned champions with a final total of just 83 points.

With 11 games to play, they presently lead rivals Real Madrid by two points, a gap that is predicted to have increased to four by the conclusion of the campaign, giving Quique Setien a first league crown.

Such have been the struggles of the big two this season, the final tally would be the lowest points recorded by a team to win the LaLiga since Fabio Capello's Madrid.

That team defeated Barca by virtue of their superior head-to-head record in a dramatic finish to the 2006-07 campaign, when the two sides accumulated 76 points.

It also suggests the chasing pack missed a rare opportunity to strike on a down year for both Clasico rivals, which will frustrate 2014 champions Atletico Madrid, who spent big on Joao Felix.

REAL MADRID FALL FOUR POINTS SHORT

The likelihood of Barca winning the title is 70.1%, with Real Madrid's chances rated at 29.9%. No other team is in with a chance of topping the table, according to the model.

But Zinedine Zidane's men are unlikely to face a challenge for second place, meaning they at least improve on their third-place finish from the 2018-19 season.

That third spot is poised to be grabbed by Atletico, who have a projected final points total of 65 and a 41.6% chance of claiming the position.

Atletico's closest challengers for third are predicted to be Sevilla (who are given a 26.1% chance) and Getafe (16.8%), with just two points separating those three sides in the final reckoning.

Diego Simeone would be thrilled with third place given his side went into the coronavirus-enforced break down in sixth, with Real Sociedad (9.1%) and Valencia (5%) the other teams in the mix.

UCL HEARTBREAK FOR LA REAL & GETAFE AS SEVILLA CLINCH 4TH

Sociedad and Getafe go into the break dreaming of a Champions League place amid fine seasons, but they are the two teams who will be worst affected by Atletico's predicted surge.

As part of a thrilling finish in the race for the top four, they are set to suffer heartbreak as Atletico pass them and they fall agonisingly short of catching Sevilla, who went into the halt in action sitting third.

Sevilla are anticipated to finish with 64 points, just one behind Atletico and one ahead of Getafe. 

Sociedad are then a further two behind Getafe with 61 as they are forced to settle for sixth, with Valencia staying in seventh on 59.

The four teams scheduled to finish between fourth and seventh all have a greater than 10.7% chance of finishing fourth, with none greater than Sevilla's 28.5%, so one bounce of the ball in a key game could still make an enormous difference.

Villarreal are predicted to finish in their current position of eighth, though they are given a 1.3% probability of breaking the top four.

Athletic Bilbao pass Granada for ninth position as Real Betis and Levante narrowly miss out on a spot in the top half.

Osasuna drop from 11th to 13th, where they are predicted to finish one point above Deportivo Alaves.

ESPANYOL SUFFER THE DROP AFTER 26 YEARS IN TOP FLIGHT

Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol are the current bottom three in LaLiga and all are forecast to suffer relegation.

Espanyol have been in the top flight since 1994 but they go into the break six points adrift of safety and the model predicts they will be unable to make a great escape.

They are forecasted to collect 13 points from their last 11 games, but that is not even enough to get them off the bottom of the standings, highlighting the scale of the task they have ahead of them.

Similarly, Mallorca (36 points) and Leganes (35) are not expected to pick up enough victories to secure survival.

That means Celta Vigo, presently just one point clear of the drop zone, are predicted to survive with a final tally of 40, giving them a four-point cushion.

Celta are credited with 14 points between now and the end of the season to finish just behind Eibar (15th) and Real Valladolid (16th).

That means they would avoid a return to the Segunda Division, which is where they started the last decade.

Football may be on hiatus in most of Europe and across the globe due to coronavirus, but Fabian Ruiz's future is still making headlines.

The Napoli and Spain star has established himself as one of the best midfielders on the continent since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Now, Liverpool are desperate to prise Fabian to Anfield but they have competition.

 

TOP STORY – REDS MAKE FABIAN TOP TARGET

Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is Liverpool's top transfer target, reports The Express.

Fabian has attracted interest from his homeland, where LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are battling for the Spain international's signature.

However, Premier League leaders Liverpool are ready to pay £74million (€80m) for Fabian.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Manchester United – led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – have re-opened talks with star midfielder Paul Pogba's agent Rino Raiola. It comes amid uncertainty over Pogba, who continues to be linked to Madrid and former club Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Milan at the end of the season, reports Sport Mediaset. The 38-year-old return to San Siro on a one-year and had been discussing a renewal before chief football officer Zvonimir Boban was sacked, angering the Swede.

Liverpool and Arsenal are among a number of clubs monitoring Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka, claims Sky Sports. The defender has also been linked to Milan, Inter, Valencia and Sevilla.

- According to The Mirror, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have enquired about Barca's Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich.

United are confident of beating Borussia Dortmund to the signing of Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham.

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard is being eyed by Arsenal, The Mirror reports, amid doubts over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and United.

Sergio Reguilon left his Real Madrid future in doubt by indicating that he may seek to extend his loan at Sevilla, saying he feels "very loved" at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

The 23-year-old left-back joined Julen Lopetegui's side in July 2019 on loan to the end of the season but Sevilla do not have the option to purchase Reguilon as part of the deal.

After enjoying an impressive run of form shortly before LaLiga was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reguilon said he is happy in Andalusia.

"I have no complaints about anything, about the city, the club, my colleagues," the Spain international told Muchodeporte.

"I feel very loved. Who knows what will happen in the future."

Reguilon made 14 LaLiga appearances for Madrid in 2018-19, providing cover for Marcelo when Los Blancos' regular left-back was injured.

He has found first-team football easier to come by at Sevilla, making 22 league appearances and scoring once, and he said he hopes to help Lopetegui's third-placed side challenge for a Champions League place when play is allowed to resume.

"I started well," said Reguilon, reflecting on his season at Sevilla. "When you start high they always demand that level, logically.

"All players have good and bad moments. I went through games of not being successful, but in the last three games I made a mental note of saying 'damn, you're good'.

"It is important to enter the Champions League, but for us the objective that we set ourselves is to enter Europe. If we enter the Champions League, great. Sevilla must aspire to that competition. We have the quality and ability to get in there perfectly."

The coronavirus crisis continues to challenge decision-makers in football's corridors of power and could soon leave some of the game's biggest clubs facing contract conundrums.

Manchester United, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are among the major European outfits who are due to farewell high-profile players when free agency comes into force on June 30.

Domestic leagues across the world appear increasingly likely to run beyond that deadline, meaning sides up and down the divisions could be forced to renegotiate deals beyond the typical expiry date.

It remains to be seen how governing bodies will approach the unfamiliar territory but Edinson Cavani, Mario Gotze and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be watching closely like dozens more across Europe's top five leagues.

These are the stars and solid supporting cast members whose contract situations are worth monitoring in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

LaLiga

Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz (retiring), Benat, Mikel San Jose
Atletico Madrid: Antonio Adan
Espanyol: Ander Iturraspe
Granada: Roberto Soldado
Real Valladolid: Hatem Ben Arfa
Sevilla: Ever Banega (joining Al Shabab at end of contract), Nolito
Valencia: Ezequiel Garay
Villarreal: Santi Cazorla 

Premier League

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
Burnley: Joe Hart
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne
Manchester City: David Silva (confirmed he will leave at end of contract)
Manchester United: Nemanja Matic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Odion Ighalo (loan ends)
Newcastle United: Matty Longstaff
Tottenham: Jan Vertonghen, Japhet Tanganga

Serie A

Atalanta: Jose Luis Palomino
Hellas Verona: Fabio Borini
Inter: Ashley Young
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon
Milan: Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Napoli: Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen: Charles Aranguiz
Borussia Dortmund: Mario Gotze, Lukasz Piszczek
Hertha Berlin: Salomon Kalou
Schalke: Benjamin Stambouli
Wolfsburg: Robin Knoche

Ligue 1

Lille: Loic Remy
Monaco: Jemerson
Nice: Walter Benitez, Arnaud Lusamba
Paris Saint-Germain: Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, Tanguy Kouassi, Layvin Kurzawa, Thiago Silva

Wednesday has seen the coronavirus outbreak take further toll on sport across the world.

Further matches have been postponed while others appear unable to go ahead due to increased travel restrictions between affected countries.

Governing bodies are also taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by cancelling planned meetings, while others are calling for further changes to the calendar.

Here are some of the latest events to be impacted.

Football's governing body has decided to cancel the next FIFA Congress in Addis Ababa on June 5. It has also pushed back the coming FIFA Council meeting in Zurich, due to be on March 20, until June or July. Attendees may be required to join via a video link.

In France, the Coupe de la Ligue final on April 4 between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon has been postponed. The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) said a new date would be announced in due course. It means the PSG-Metz and Lyon-Nimes Ligue 1 matches will be moved to the weekend of April 4-5 but be held behind closed doors. PSG will have Kylian Mbappe available against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, though: the striker is in the squad after overcoming illness, with L'Equipe among those to report he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Germany has seen the first confirmed instance of a footballer contracting coronavirus. Hannover defender Timo Hubers has tested positive but been praised by the club for his "absolutely exemplary" behaviour, as he immediately self-isolated before coming into contact with the rest of the squad.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will face Union Berlin on Saturday behind closed doors, and the latter's derby with Hertha Berlin on March 21 will take place under the same circumstances. Borussia Monchengladbach have urged fans not to gather outside the stadium ahead of Wednesday's match with Cologne.

FIFPro, the footballers' union, has urged governing bodies across the world "to respect the wishes of players to take short-term precautionary measures including suspending training or competitions". Steps are certainly being taken in Spain, where the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has recommended football at all levels beneath the top two professional leagues to be called off for two weeks. The RFEF will reportedly meet with league officials to discuss similar proposals for LaLiga and the Segunda Division.

Meanwhile, Roma's match with Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday is off after the Italian club confirmed they had not been given permission by the government to fly to Andalusia. Getafe had already refused to travel for their game with Inter in Italy.

The big news in England was that Manchester City versus Arsenal was called off as a precaution after the Gunners came into contact with Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who announced on Tuesday that he had caught the disease. In general, though, the UK has not been following the same stringent protocols as some other European nations and that is continuing for now. Arsenal's match with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday has not been called off, while England's planned friendlies at Wembley this month against Italy and Denmark are, at present, going ahead. Forest have also confirmed all players and staff have tested negative for coronavirus.

In Scotland, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says the domestic season must be completed, even if behind closed doors, "because people have earned the opportunity to get to the stage where everyone is at". League chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed last week that completing the Premiership season could become "very difficult".

The England and Wales Cricket Board has told supporters "to maintain good levels of hygiene" during England's tour of Sri Lanka. As a precaution, players and staff have been told to avoid casual interaction with fans, such as selfies and autographs.

In Bangladesh, the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have been postponed, while the Indian Open has been called off following a consultation between the Indian Golf Union, the European Tour, the Asian Tour and tournament sponsors.

MotoGP has also announced that the Argentina Grand Prix has been moved to November. The opening race of the season in Qatar and the Grand Prix of the Americas have already been rescheduled.

Roma's match with Sevilla and Inter versus Getafe have officially been cancelled by UEFA.

The Europa League last-16 first legs have been called off due to new travel restrictions imposed by the Spanish government on flights to and from Italy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Further decisions on the two matches will be communicated in due course," UEFA said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Roma confirmed they had been unable to travel for the match at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as they had not been granted permission to fly to Andalusia.

Getafe's meeting with Inter had also been in doubt as the LaLiga club's president, Angel Torres, said they would not travel to Italy.

Torres told Onda Cero that he was not prepared to put the health of his players and staff at risk, adding: "If we have to lose the tie, we will lose it."

Italy has been in lockdown since Monday in a bid to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Roma have announced they will not travel to Spain for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 match against Sevilla on Thursday.

The Italian club said on Twitter on Wednesday that their "plane from Italy was not authorised to land in Spain", adding UEFA would provide a further update.

Both legs of the tie had been due to take place behind closed doors.

Italy is in lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak, with significant travel restrictions in place across the country.

Wolves' Europa League last-16 first-leg tie at Olympiacos will be played behind closed doors, as will Sevilla's clash with Roma, UEFA has confirmed.

The two matches on Thursday are the latest to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The Greek government enforced a temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events on Sunday, with 73 confirmed cases of the virus in the country as of Monday.

UEFA subsequently affirmed the decision would affect Olympiacos in European competition, and Wolves will refund travelling fans who bought tickets.

Meanwhile, Roma's trip to Sevilla likewise will not allow supporters, following the example of Valencia v Atalanta – a Champions League encounter between Spanish and Italian teams.

The fixture will go ahead in Spain, where there are 999 cases and 16 deaths, although sporting events in Italy have been halted until April 3.

Italy is the European country most heavily affected by the virus, with 7,375 cases and 366 deaths.

A number of Serie A fixtures had been postponed even before Monday's decision to implement a four-week stoppage.

Atletico Madrid fans jeered Diego Simeone's decision to withdraw Joao Felix during Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sevilla but the coach explained he was under instruction to be "careful" with him.

Los Colchoneros missed out on the chance to usurp Sevilla and go third in LaLiga, as they struggled to break down their visitors after a thrilling first half.

Alvaro Morata's penalty and Joao Felix's deflected effort cancelled out Luuk de Jong's well-taken opener, before Lucas Ocampos' spot-kick – which he won – just before half-time earned Sevilla a deserved point.

With Atletico chasing a late win, the previously lively Joao Felix was taken off for former Sevilla winger Vitolo in the 80th minute, and the home fans seemed unimpressed by the alteration.

But Simeone stressed he felt it to be a necessary decision.

"We can't tell people that he felt overloaded in his calf," Simeone told reporters when asked to address the whistles that accompanied his withdrawal.

"The doctor told me to be careful with Joao because he was getting cramps, that's why the change came.

"That he scored a goal to make the people happy is normal, because he's from Atletico."

VAR attracted much attention during the match, as the two penalties came after lengthy reviews – Simeone felt the outcome of both incidents was fair.

"It ends up being more fair than unfair," he said. "I am far away from the play of the first penalty and very far for the second, so I cannot enter a summary.

"I don't think that the defining factor of the match was the VAR. It has been a good duel with two teams fighting for very high goals.

"We were two teams that have competed very well, and that will surely compete until the end for the Champions League [places]."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui was less impressed by the use of VAR, however, particularly in terms of how long it took for the final decisions to be communicated.

"I believe that the VAR should intervene when situations are white or black," he added. "If you are waiting three minutes to see if you are going to review the decision or not, then that play is not very clear.

"There are many browns [rather than black or white] in football. That is what I meant. It should only intervene when it is black or white, because it cannot take so long, also because of the rhythm of the match, it stops too much.

"It was a very nice match. He [the referee] can't stand around for four or five minutes."

Diego Simeone is convinced Joao Felix "can go far if he wants to" despite struggling in his first season at Atletico Madrid.

Joao Felix became Atletico's record signing when he arrived from Benfica for €126million in pre-season, coming in as Antoine Griezmann's replacement.

But the Portugal international's impact has not been as significant as expected, scoring just three goals in 19 LaLiga appearances, having also missed a chunk of the season through injury.

Atletico face a fight to qualify for a Champions League spot, as they sit fifth behind Getafe and Sevilla – their visitors on Saturday – in the battle for a top-four place.

Simeone remains a believer in Joao Felix's abilities and potential ahead of a crunch clash with Sevilla on Saturday.

"He started with great enthusiasm," Simeone told reporters on Friday. "He had two injuries that took him out of that continuity.

"He is looking for that continuity in the team again, that continuity we all need and expect from him.

"Hopefully he gets to where he suggested he could, because in the case of young boys it is a consequence of where one wants to go. If he wants to go far, he can."

Like Joao Felix, Diego Costa has also recently returned to fitness and could play a significant role in the final weeks of the season, with Simeone optimistic about the striker's condition.

"I see him growing, looking for his best state, training accordingly to want to improve," the Atleti coach continued.

"He was never a great header, his game was more direct, more vertical, more positional. He felt comfortable in the game [against Espanyol].

"I see him [getting] better. He could not show all this the other day, but it is a phase of his recovery and we can count on him."

The visit of Sevilla comes just four days before Atletico's Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Liverpool at Anfield, where Los Colchoneros will start with a 1-0 lead.

But Simeone insists his one and only focus is the Sevilla match, knowing victory will move them back into the top four and above Julen Lopetegui's erratic side.

"We do not look five days ahead, only Sevilla," he said. "We have the need to make an important match. Sevilla is strong away from home, signed new players [in January] like Suso that give quality in attack.

"The importance of the match is clear. Sevilla is a dangerous team away from home - they move better with spaces for their fast players in attack. That's where they perform their game best.

"Both matches are important - we are excited. It's a football week, in which we prepare to reach important targets. We have a beautiful battle ahead."

Julen Lopetegui apologised to supporters after Sevilla suffered a shock elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of second-tier Mirandes on Thursday.

Sevilla succumbed to a 3-1 loss in the last-16 match at the Municipal de Anduva, with Matheus Aias sending Mirandes into half-time with a 2-0 lead.

Lopetegui made three substitutions at the break and were lucky the Segunda Division side did not extend their lead when Diego Carlos conceded a penalty by fouling Alvaro Pena, who saw his effort from 12 yards kept out by Tomas Vaclik.

Alvaro Rey put the result beyond doubt five minutes from time, with Nolito's 90th-minute goal providing scant consolation.

"We apologise. We are all tremendously sad, but we have to back up quickly," said Lopetegui.

"We were prisoners of our bad start and they took advantage to get ahead. In this format, one bad game means you are eliminated.

"The first goal was key. It gave them a lot of energy and generated doubts [for us].

"When three substitutions are made, it's because the first one to make a mistake was the coach.

"We tried to score early in the second half but everything was against us. The goal we expected did not come and we have been eliminated by a good team that was superior.

"It's a big blow, without a doubt. We were very excited, but we have to pick ourselves up."

Mirandes will be the only team from outside LaLiga in the quarter-final draw on Friday.

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