MILAN-Serie A will return after a three-month absence on June 20 with Torino hosting Parma in the first of four postponed matches on the opening weekend, the Italian league confirmed on Monday.

The championship will resume with fixtures which were called off when Italian sports was suspended on March 9 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first match will be 15th-placed Torino versus ninth-ranked Parma on the evening of Saturday, June 20, followed by Hellas Verona, in eighth, versus Cagliari, in 12th, later that night.

The following day fourth-placed Atalanta will host mid-table Sassuolo while Inter Milan, in third, will be at home against relegation-threatened Sampdoria.

Most teams have 12 games left to play with 124 matches remaining, to be played in 43 days from June 20 to Aug 2.

After the four catch-up games, the 27th round of action will be played with matches scheduled from Monday, June 22 through to Wednesday, June 24.

Most of the matches will kick off at 7.30pm and 9.45pm (local time) because of the summer heat in Italy, with only 10 games scheduled earlier at 5.15pm, in the north of the country. Games will be played behind closed doors and adhering to a strict health protocol, whereby the entire group must go into a training camp retreat for two weeks in the case of a positive test for COVID-19.

The Italian federation has outlined guidelines for the resumption, with a maximum of number of 300 people allowed in the stadium

The federation’s president, Gabriele Gravina, said on Monday he hoped that a small number of fans will be able to attend matches before the season finishes.

“It is my heartfelt wish to be able to see a small presence in stadium for the end of the championship,” said Gravina.

“It seems unthinkable that in a stadium with 60,000 seats, there is no space for a minimal percentage of spectators who can attend the match with all the necessary precautions.

“Certainly it is premature today but with the resumption of the championship there could be a new little signal of hope for our country.”

Last month, Juventus’ Asia-Pacific managing director, Federico Palomba, told China Daily that the return of Serie A “would be an extraordinary boost for people’s morale”.

Juventus, which is bidding for a ninth consecutive title, is one point ahead of second-place Lazio.

Third-place Inter Milan is nine points behind the leader with a game in hand.

Maurizio Sarri’s Juve travels to Bologna for its first game back on Monday, June 22, with Lazio at Atalanta two days later. Juve will host Lazio on July 20.

The league has not yet confirmed the dates for the Italian Cup, which is expected to be completed the week before Serie A restarts, with the final on June 17.

The return legs of the semifinals remain to be played with Juventus facing AC Milan and Napoli playing Inter.

AFP – China Daily

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