Five months ago, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted absolutely everything across the globe. Life came to a standstill. But for football fans, the crisis could not have come at a worse time. It hit the Champions’ League right in the middle of an exciting Round of 16 weeks.
The reigning champions were knocked out in a frenzied game, and the underdog Atalanta pulled off a big win. City managed to edge past a Real dominant line-up while Bayern crushed the Blues from London. Yet the looming health crisis brought all excitement to a halt.
It has been five months since then, and the UCL is finally back!
After what seemed to be an endless hiatus, the league will resume in August. The tournament will start with the remaining second-leg fixtures of the Round of 16. These games will take place in the teams’ home grounds. From thereon, Lisbon will host all the quarter-final games without any second leg.
How will the UCL Resume
The remaining four games will take place on August 7 and 8 at the already decided venues. The qualifying teams will accompany Atletico, Valencia, Leipzig, and PSG to Lisbon for the quarters. The quarter-finals, without any second leg, will be played out between 12-15 August.
The semi-finals are scheduled to take place on August 18 and 19. The finalists will then go head to head on August 23.
As per the UCL draw, Atalanta will face PSG in the first quarter-finals. Atletico, on the other hand, will go against Leipzig. The rest of the games depend on who will win the second legs.
Either of Barcelona or Napoli can contend with Bayern or Chelsea. While the winner between Real Madrid and Man City will face either Lyon or Juventus. Both these fixtures will take place on August 15 and 16, respectively.
Things as They Stand
Before the pandemic put a pause on everything, the Round of 16 witnessed some surprising results.
Atalanta sealed their berth in the quarter-finals in a 7-goal game against Valencia. PSG, on the other hand, managed to beat Dortmund with an aggregate of 3-2. Their victory came quite the same way as their defeat against an unwavering Man United squad last season.
Besides, last season’s finalists also faced a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Leipzig. Likewise, the holders Liverpool had to make peace with a defeat in a close game against Simeone’s Atletico.
There were some surprising results in the previous game week as well. While Lyon stunned Juventus with a one-goal lead, Manchester City upset the Bernabeau with a 1-2 scoreline. A formidable Bayern squad took a 3-goal lead over Chelsea while Barcelona went with their old first-leg draw tactic.
Latest UEFA Rules
Many things have changed since the resumption of football after the pandemic. The Premier League, for instance, has made it compulsory to take a minute-long drinks break in both halves of the game. The league has also allowed five substitutions for every game.
Likewise, the UEFA has also made some changes to the upcoming matches. Teams can now make up to 5 substitutions at three different occasions in the game. These occasions, however, do not include the half-time and the extra time. Teams can make one extra substitution in extra time.
Moreover, clubs can choose 23 players for the match sheet. Earlier, this number was limited to 18, and 23 players were allowed only for the finals.
To Sum Up
It goes without saying that the UCL return will be thrilling! Coming after a break of over five months, entire August will be jam-packed with the best of European football. Moreover, so many football games in this continuous streak would feel nothing short of luxury. So, the race is on for the new Champions of Europe!