Some European nations, if not all, are currently on lockdown because of this ongoing pandemic, leaving fans starving for some football action. Domestic leagues such as the Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga have already set their competitions on hold.
“In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled this week are postponed,” said the UEFA committee in an official statement.
“This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; and all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.”
“As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed. Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course,” the statement ended.
It remains unclear on when the games will finally resume especially since things are all up in the air. Manchester City’s second leg tie versus Real Madrid was scheduled to go ahead last Tuesday but that was one of the first matches to be postponed. Since then, all other remaining matches followed suit.
With this said, the UEFA board had already considered implementing certain contingency plans for the tournament when they hosted a video conference last Tuesday involving 55 UEFA members, the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues, and a representative from Fifpro, a world players’ union.
What are the options?
The UEFA board has reportedly considered two things for the competition. One is for them to hold one-legged ties as opposed to the usual two-legged, home-and-home series from the Round of 16 all the way through the semifinals in order to expedite the tournament.
This way, UEFA can determine winners right away, which means that some clubs would have a distinct disadvantage of without even playing a single home game. However, several reports indicate that existing ties are expected to be completed since other teams like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Lyon, Napoli, and Barcelona have yet to play their second legs in the Round of 16.
They also might consider holding the said games in various neutral venues. However, the board would be hard pressed to finding countries willing to host big events like these on such a short notice.
Concerns regarding finances and public safety quickly come into mind should they hold games to neutral venues, which might get them back to square one.
Another plan to be considered is by holding a mini-tournament in order to ease fixture congestion brought about by the coronavirus. The mini-tournament will probably start from the quarterfinals and the remaining teams will play it over a handful of days concentrated in Istanbul, Turkey so that it would cut down travels and disruption of the competition.
What will be the impact should these plans happen?
Games would matter even more after the Round of 16, as these teams will play in a tighter schedule. In fact, several sources have reported that the UEFA board would push the final date to June 27 to ensure that the showpiece club competition will end just in time for the summer.
The final date is initially scheduled on May 30 but the coronavirus forced the UEFA committee to push it to the said later date.
Physical fatigue might turn out to be a huge factor for teams who have yet to finish their Round of 16 ties because of the tight schedule. And at the same time, most of these clubs are currently on a hiatus because their domestic leagues were put on hold.
That will obviously affect their Champions League chances of winning the championship putting these all into consideration.
RB Leipzig, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint- Germain have already booked their spots in the quarterfinals as they await for their next opponents.
Hopefully, this coronavirus pandemic will be put to a stop sooner or later so that SBOTOP fans can get to witness more Champions League 2020 highlights.
And once we get our sports back, we will have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful game a whole lot more!
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