Champions League and Europa to get New Structure

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European football governing body UEFA is proposing a change in the structure of the Champions League and the Europa League in order to be able to complete the 2019-2020 season.

Recall that just like in the case of domestic leagues in Europe, Uefa competitions were forced to a halt in March in order to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic. Before Champions League, in particular, was suspended indefinitely, most of the clubs were yet to play the second leg of the round of 16. While in the case of the Europa League, all the teams were yet to play the second leg of the round of 16.

Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Atalanta, and Atletico Madrid have already booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals. While Four of the eight Champions League last-16 second-leg ties are yet to be played. Those matches are Manchester City vs Real Madrid, Bayern Munich vs Chelsea, Barcelona vs Napoli and Juventus vs Lyon.

A tie like Manchester City vs Real Madrid is a complicated one for Uefa because the government of the United Kingdom still has a lockdown rule that any visitor entering the UK has to self-isolate for 14 days. Hence, if Uefa allows the round of 16 to continue, Real Madrid might not be able to enter the UK for the second-leg tie. The only option in this scenario is for the match to be taken outside the UK if such a rule still remains when the round of 16 kick-offs.

New Plans for Champions League and Europa

Champions League

Uefa intends to introduce a situation where the quarterfinals, Semi-finals and finals of the Champions League and the Europa League will be played in one city. This implies that Istanbul in Turkey, which has been selected as the host city for the 2019-2020 Uefa Champions League might lose the hosting right if such a proposal is approved. And it also implies that the Champions League and the Europa League could be a mini-tournament that could be played on a one-leg basis.

According to reports, a city in Germany is already being considered as the likely host of the two biggest European club competitions. However, like the domestic leagues in Europe that have restarted the 2019-2020 season, all the matches will be played behind closed doors.

Uefa said: “A working group has been set up with the participation of representatives from the leagues and clubs to examine calendar solutions and format options that would allow for the completion of the current season. A variety of options are being looked at and no decisions have been made at this stage.”

But Getafe president Angel Torres told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE that: “Uefa’s idea is to play the Champions League and Europa League, starting from the quarter-finals, across one match in one venue although nothing has been confirmed yet. They will come to a decision on June 17 (when the executive committee meets).”

Getafe is yet to play its Europa League round of 16 first leg match away to Inter Milan because of the coronavirus pandemic. Torres and his team are patiently waiting on the resolution of Uefa just like the remaining teams that are still in one Uefa competitions or the other.

No European club football may take place until all the major domestic leagues conclude their season whether prematurely like French Ligue 1 or conclusively like what German Bundesliga is trying to achieve. Hence, all things being equal, UEFA competition could return in August.