UCL 2020: Mini-league To Be Introduced

UEFA have today confirmed plans to finish this season’s Champions League with a mini-tournament in Lisbon over 12 days in August

Europe’s premier club competition will complete its 2019-20 edition with a final-eight World Cup-style tournament, held in the Portuguese capital, from August 12 to August 23.

After the four outstanding last-16 ties are completed at the scheduled home stadiums, the quarter-finals onwards will be held on neutral territory, with no fans present and, most notably, over just one-leg.

As things stand, teams will not have to quarantine either, with each club are likely to set up in their own hotel away from the public so that social distancing measures can be maintained.

UEFA have earmarked August as the month to complete the competition in order to give Europe’s top domestic leagues enough time to finish their respective seasons.

The ‘final eight’ tournament will be held over 12 days in Lisbon, with the first match taking place on August 12 and the final being played on August 23.

Instead of playing the quarter-finals over two legs as normal, the new plan will see the ties become single games across four straight days.

The semi-finals, which will also be played over one leg, will take place on August 18 and 19, with the final at the Estadio da Luz four days later.

Istanbul was due to host the 2020 final but will now be the venue for the 2021 showpiece, with all other scheduled hosts moving back a year.

The teams already qualified for this season’s quarter-finals are France’s PSG, Italy’s Atalanta, Spain’s Atletico Madrid and Germany’s RB Leipzig.

The remaining last-16 second-leg fixtures are Manchester City’s home tie against Real Madrid, Chelsea’s trip to Bayern Munich, Juventus’s home game against Lyon and Napoli’s visit to Barcelona.
Portugal was picked because of its location and the fact it has no teams left in the competition.

Lisbon emerged as an attractive host city because it has two stadiums with the facilities needed for elite matches – Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade.

In addition, most of the country’s coronavirus restrictions are also being lifted this month, with air travel in and out of the country allowed from June 22.

Visitors will not need to go into quarantine on arrival, although additional health and safety measures will be in place in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Organisers are proceeding on the basis that all matches will be played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel allowed on site.

However, UEFA are understood to have left the door open for possible changes should public health conditions in Portugal allow.

If government guidelines are altered in time for ticketing to be organised, there is an outside chance that some fans could be allowed in to watch.

The capacity of both grounds would be greatly reduced in order to comply with social distancing rules and other safety protocols.

UEFA are braced for a loss in income from broadcasters, who will expect sizeable refunds because they will have six fewer games to show as a result of the new format.

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