European soccer’s road to glory likely will be a sprint, instead of the traditional long march.
UEFA agreed to stage the remainder of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League campaign between Aug. 12 and Aug. 23 in Lisbon, Portugal, Sky Italia, Reuters and other outlets reported Monday. The Champions League winner reportedly will emerge from a “Final Eight” tournament — consisting of single-legged quarterfinal, semifinal and Final games — which will take place in Portugal’s capital city at the home stadiums of its two major clubs: Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and Sporting Lisbon’s Jose Alvalade stadium. UEFA’s executive committee is expected to approve the one-off changes to European soccer’s elite men’s club competition Wednesday at a meeting.
The Champions League was halfway through the Round of 16 when it suspended play in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain and RB Leipzig already have qualified for the quarterfinals. UEFA’s executive committee likely will determine at Wednesday’s meeting when and where the second legs of the Manchester City-Real Madrid, Bayern-Chelsea, Juventus-Lyon and Barcelona-Napoli Round of 16 series will take place.
Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium was the original host site of the 2020 Champions League final, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted UEFA to change cities and venues. Istanbul now will host the 2021 Champions League Final, and all subsequently scheduled hosts will stage their finals one year later than originally set, Reuters reported Monday, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
The UEFA Europa League, European soccer’s secondary competition, reportedly will stage a similar mini-tournament between Aug. 10 and Aug. 21 in Germany.