European soccer’s governing body announced a change in format and site for the remainder of the 2020 edition of the UEFA Champions League.
Despite the many teams, including Bayern Munich, who don’t know if the quarterfinals are in the cards for them, UEFA announced they will be playing an eight-team knockout tournament for the remainder of this year’s competition in late August.
Per the Associated Press (via ESPN), and originally reported by Sky Italia, the final matches of this season’s edition will be played at two stadiums in Lisbon, Portugal. This was a departure from the original site of the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.
Semifinals will be shared by the Stadium of Light (Estádio da Luz, home to Benfica) and the nearby home stadium of Sporting Lisbon on Aug. 18-19. Four quarterfinals are planned on consecutive nights from Aug. 12-15, Sky Italia reported.
The final will be played at the Estádio da Luz on a Sunday night, supposedly August 23, a departure from the typical Saturday evening which has normally hosted the final.
The report says there’s one final hurdle ahead of UEFA:
UEFA’s executive committee must agree on the plan on Wednesday among a series of decisions to reschedule international soccer — for Europe’s clubs and national teams — after the coronavirus pandemic upended the global sports calendar.
In addition to the confirmation of this format, the committee will decide on Wednesday the fate of the four Round of 16 fixtures which have not yet been completed. While sites haven’t been determined, Sky Italia reports the remaining Ro16 games (Olympique Lyon @ Juventus, Chelsea @ Bayern Munich, Napoli @ Barcelona, and Real Madrid @ Manchester City) will be played at each originally intended site.
The report also laid out changes for the final stages of the Europa League tournament. They still have about ten Round of 16 games remaining, but the report states the fixtures are set to be completed in a mini-tournament in Western Germany.
Per the AP:
UEFA is set to pick Cologne, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday for the quarterfinals onward, maybe earlier. Another option is a four-city hub centered on Frankfurt.
Finally, it was reported the committee will be deciding how to proceed with the UCL 2021 qualifiers which were set to begin later this month.
From the AP:
A UEFA club competitions panel will meet on Wednesday ahead of the executive body to help make efficient sense of the challenge.
The next group stages will likely start in October instead of September. Istanbul and Gdansk (the pre-COVID UEL final host) could also get their hosting chance one year on.
It should be noted that the reports didn’t address three key points:
- Whether UEFA plans to allow fans to attend the games, with socially distancing or otherwise.
- What the plans for testing teams, quarantining teams, and gameday policies are.
- Whether these games were single elimination or played over two legs.
These details should come out after the committee meets this Wednesday.