European cups, the plan to conclude Champions and Europa League
The UEFA plan to conclude Champions and Europa League: championships closed by July and cups awarded by 15 August
UEFA’s goal, already evident in March and confirmed by the postponement of the European Championships to 2021, remains to complete the Champions League and Europa League. Although the unknowns related to Coronavirus are enormous and the main one is linked to the different evolutions that the contagion follows in the different countries of the world and in Europe, an agreement has been reached between Uefa and Eca, the association of European clubs, to define the calendars of the European cups. This is a first rough draft but it is useful for understanding the scenario that UEFA would ideally want to follow in order not to declare the off-field season ended. The intention is to end the championships in late July and to concentrate the Champions and Europa League in the first half of August.
The comeback of the round of 16 interrupted in March will initially be played. Once the quarterfinals have been completed, we will proceed with the formula of the dry races and of course behind closed doors which is the only element on which every single federation agrees as essential when it comes back to play. In fact, therefore, the Champions League will end with a Final Eight in which the best eight will compete in a single game until the final that would still be played in Istanbul. The problem remains of the return of the round of 16 which will create a disadvantage for the teams that will have to play it ‘at home’, namely Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juve and Barcelona. And if the English and Germans were already well on the way to qualifying, the bianconeri could object to the handicap of playing a decisive game without the public, while in the first leg Lyon was able to count on the support of their fans. But a solution will eventually be found and accepted.
Here are two more matches to be played in the first knockout round which involve two Italian and two Spanish teams, the countries most affected by the virus in Europe. Therefore Inter-Getafe and Sevilla-Roma will not have a return and will play in the dry game, while the return of the other six matches of the round of 16 will be played regularly. From the quarterfinals onwards the same formula as the Champions League with unique matches and then Final Eight to award the trophy.
End of season and 2020-21
There is of course also the uncertainty linked to the ability of the clubs, especially those engaged in their leagues and cups, to play such a large number of close games after such a long stop and to do it in the hottest time of the year that usually is reserved for friendlies. Playing in the evening will help with temperatures, but the risk of injuries will increase dramatically and the various associations of players will make themselves heard if they do not receive adequate guarantees not only on health but also on athletics. A theme that we will develop in the coming days. UEFA’s goal is to complete the cups by 15 August, to give players three weeks of rest and then twenty days for athletic training in view of the 2020-21 season which should begin by the end of September.