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UEFA May Implement New Format for This Season’s Champions League and Europa League



The Basics

The Coronavirus outbreak is causing three main problems for the soccer world to solve: finishing the domestic seasons, finishing Champions League and Europa League, and playing UEFA 2020.

In an effort to contain the spread of the virus and to keep the players healthy, domestic and international club matches are postponed.

Because these matches are postponed, time becomes an issue as UEFA 2020’s initially planned start date approaches.

UEFA 2020 was supposed to begin in mid-June. But it seems unlikely that the clubs will be able to finish their respective seasons (both international and domestic) on-time.

When Can They Play Again?

Plans to resume play again seem universally uncertain.

Some domestic leagues have offered a date at which they would like to continue playing.

But, while the virus raises so many unknowns -- such as how to contain it, if it will be contained, when it will be contained — any date seems tentative at best.

UEFA cannot know, either, when Champions League and Europa League will resume play.

At all events, UEFA seems to expect club soccer to be played well into the summer.

Of course, this would mean that Euro 2020 gets postponed a year.

But I want to focus on UEFA’s plans for this year’s Champions and Europa League seasons.

A Solution Is In The Works

With limited time available and with the intent to help domestic leagues finish during the Summer, UEFA may institute a shortened version of Champions League and Europa League play.

Here’s how it would work:

There are currently 16 teams left.

The Round of 16 will be played normally — with two legs, consisting in one match played at club x’s venue and the other match played at club y’s venue.

For the next round, when there are eight teams remaining, there will be a draw. Those eight teams will play in one game.

There are two alternatives in the works for this round:

One, it would be a matter of luck as to which team plays at home. The team that is drawn first would get to play the match at home (although possibly without fans — this has yet to be determined).

Two, this round’s fixtures could be played on neutral soil. Then, neither team would have the benefit and the luck to play at home.

After this round, four teams will remain. This is where I think it gets most interesting.

The plan for the „final four“ will be to stage a mini-tournament.

For the Champions League, the four remaining teams will head to Istanbul, which is also the site of the Final.

Two semifinal games will be played one after the other.

Each semifinal match is one leg, meaning that the winner of that match moves onto the Final.

As for the Europa League, the plan is the same. Only, instead of traveling to Istanbul, the four teams will finish the tournament in Danzig.

Will It Really Happen?

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is reportedly an advocate of the idea. He’s ready to implement it.

However, he’s not the only one with a say.

Governing football authorities will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) in order to discuss this plan as well as others.

Of course, events outside of their control — most importantly, events pertaining to the Coronavirus and its spread — could continue to change things.

But, it will be interesting to see, at the very least, the direction in which leading football authorities are looking.
 
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