The 2019-2020 Champions League, suspended since March because of the global coronavirus pandemic, will be completed in a ‘final eight’ format in Lisbon in August, UEFA confirmed on Wednesday, following a meeting of its executive committee.
Champions League 2020: How the final eight fixtures will work
Europe’s top clubs will play a series of one-off matches in the Portuguese capital between 12 and 23 August 2020.
The Europa League will be completed with a ‘final eight’ across four German cities, with the final in Cologne on 21 August.
The closing stages of the women’s Champions League will also go ahead in an eight-team straight knock-out tournament in Bilbao and San Sebastian, in Spain, from 21-30 August.
“Football is leading the return to a more normal life here in Europe,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, but in all cases it remains to be seen if any supporters will be allowed to attend matches.
Champions League final eight fixtures: Fans allowed?
Almost all sport which has resumed around the world is currently being played behind closed doors to comply with strict health guidelines.
If I would answer today then we don’t think we could have spectators at the Europa League and Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals but things are changing rapidly,” he said.
“A month ago I couldn’t even answer if we could play the competition. Now we will play it, hopefully.”
With the European death toll from the coronavirus easing and numerous EU countries this week opening their borders again to visitors, there is some hope that matches can be played before crowds.
Ceferin added: “We don’t know if (it would be) only the local fans, if no fans, or even if fans from different clubs could travel.
2021 Champions League final set for Istanbul
The men’s Champions League final was initially due to be played in Istanbul in May before the Covid-19 crisis took hold.
The Turkish city will now host the 2021 final instead, with Saint-Petersburg, Munich and London hosting the following editions.
The quarter-finals and semi-finals are usually held over two legs, home and away, but will now be played as single ties. UEFA said all matches would be split between Benfica’s Estadio da Luz, and the nearby Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting.
Portugal’s credentials to host the mini-tournament were boosted by the fact that it has not been as badly hit by the pandemic as other western European countries, and it has no clubs left in the competition. The Portuguese league recently resumed matches behind closed doors.
There are still restrictions in place in wider Portuguese society, as the country eases its lockdown, but UEFA is confident there will be no need for another change of plan between now and August.
“For now things look well, and we hope everything will be fine until we organise the final eight. There is no reason to have a Plan B but we are assessing the situation, not week by week but day by day, and we will adapt when the time comes, if necessary,” said Ceferin.
Champions League 2020: What about the last 16 fixtures?
Four Champions League last 16, second leg fixtures remain, those could be moved to Portugal, too.
Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atalanta all qualified for the quarter-finals before the competition was suspended.
The remaining last 16, second fixtures are: Juventus vs Lyon; Manchester City vs Real Madrid; Bayern Munich vs Chelsea and Barcelona vs Napoli. If needed, the games will be played in the Portuguese cities of Porto and Guimaraes
This article was initially published at extratime.media