UEFA today announced that the climax of the 2019/20 Champions League will be played in a mini-tournament format, hosted in Lisbon, in Benfica’s Estádio da Luz and Sporting’s Estádio José Alvalade.
As the global impact of Covid-19 gradually begins to wane, football has been returning at domestic level, and Portugal, which did a relatively good job at controlling the pandemic, has been attributed the one-off Champions League “bonanza”.
The decisive games – quarter-finals, semi-finals and final – will be played in an 11-day period in August in the Portuguese capital.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin even hinted fans may be able to attend the matches.
“If we were to decide now, then we would play without fans, but we have to wait because the situation is changing every day, we have to see what the situation will be in August,” said the head of European football’s governing body. “We don’t know if only the local fans, if no fans, or even if fans from different clubs could travel to the venue.”
The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Champions League, all of which will be single-leg fixtures, will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on 10 July.
Meanwhile, it has not yet been decided whether the remaining round of 16 second legs will take place at the home team’s stadium… or in Portugal. Porto’s Estádio do Dragão and Vitória Guimarães’ Dom Afonso Henriques (the two stadiums used to host the finals of the inaugural Nations League) are in UEFA’s sights as possible venues to host the four outstanding second legs. A decision will be announced further down the line.
Portuguese players gunning for glory
In terms of Portuguese involvement, this season’s unprecedented Champions League competition retains a strong contingent of players who will be playing the decisive matches in their home country.
Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and João Cancelo, and Nélson Semedo of Barcelona will have strong hopes of lifting the trophy. João Félix at Atlético Madrid, Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Napoli full-back Mário Rui are also still alive in the competition.
Bring it on!
Revised 2019/20 Champions League schedule
7-8 August: Round of 16 second legs (venues to be confirmed)
12-15 August: Quarter-finals, Lisbon
18-19 August: Semi-finals, Lisbon
23 August: Final, Lisbon
by Tom Kundert