As the rest of the world take to the battlefield to combat a 19-year old solo fighter called COVID-19, football is sitting on the sideline, waiting this one out, and awaiting the substitution hour to make a dramatic entrance and turn the battle on its head and in favor of the human race.
But while we wait for the day when that will happen, many of the bodies involved with football have started taking some drastic decisions and making some painful announcements to inform the rest of the world about when some of the biggest activities in the sport are likely to return.
Unfortunately, one such competition is the prestigious UEFA Champions League and its distant cousin, the UEFA Europa League.
When is the UEFA Champions League and Europa League returning?
Initially, the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season was supposed to come to an end in May 2020, with the final slated for May 30. But due to the viral crisis that has hit Europe and the rest of world in ways no one saw coming, UEFA had to shift the final to June 27, with the hopes that the tides would have calmed by then and football would be ready to make its long-awaited return to the fray.
But now in May, and just a month away from the earlier date UEFA predicted to have the final, there’s still no quelling the actions of COVID. And just as the days roll by, people keep dying in their numbers, while several others are falling victims to the pandemic.
Let’s just say that reality has hit UEFA, and they’ve come to realize that their target date, June 27, is more a fantasy rather than a possibility. As such, the union – which met via a virtual teleconference on April 23 – has decided to further push forward the date of both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals, with the completion of the Round-of-16 phase slated for August 8.
Although the details of the meeting haven’t been made public up until now, many experts, journalists, and pundits around the continent have reasons to believe that UEFA is now targeting an August 26 and August 29 finish for the 2019/20 Europa League and Champions League respectively.
Already, UEFA has announced that the 2020 Euros – which was supposed to go ahead from June 12 to July 12 this year – will now be played from June 11 to July 11, 2021. What this means is that, whatever the dates UEFA chooses for the 2019/20 club competition finish, there won’t be a clash with the national competition.
Will the Champions League and Europa League continue as normal when football returns?
After the night Morata shocked the football world by planting that final goal in the backyard of Anfield and UEFA announced that football was being sent to the dugout temporarily, the one question that has remained on the lips of every football lover is whether the competition will continue in its old format when it finally resumes.
Since then, there have been various theories suggesting what UEFA is likely going to do. But of all the theories making the rounds on the internet, only two have gained enough traction.
The first being to play the quarter-finals and semi-finals as two-legged matches as normal, in July an August. And the second being to play the quarters and semis in neutral venues and in one-off fixtures after the end of the domestic seasons, potentially condensing the end of the competition into a week-long four-team mini-tournament.
This could mean all teams who would have qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League and Europa League being invited to showpiece competitions in Istanbul and Gdansk, respectively.
This midweek-weekend format would effectively be the same as last year’s Nations League finals and the upcoming Euro 2020 play-offs.
What does this mean for football lovers?
Whether you’re a lifelong football lover or you just miss betting on football on the agen bola ibet44 terbaik, what these updates mean is that the UEFA Champions League and Europa League aren’t returning to us anytime soon. So for the first time in a long time, brace yourself for a “ MAY and JUNE” without a Champions League and/or Europa League final.