The remainder of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League season will be completed in August following short tournament in Lisbon, according to multiple reports out of Europe on Monday.
Sky Italia was the first to report the news. The plan, which will be voted on by the executive committee of European soccer’s governing body on Wednesday, was later confirmed by Reuters. The world’s most prestigious club competition had just begun its knockout phase when play ground to a halt in March because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new plan, four remaining round of 16 second leg matches would be played without fans in the cities they were originally scheduled in, with the series winners advancing to the 11-day tourney in the Portuguese capital alongside the four teams that have already clinched a quarterfinal berth. The quarters would take place on four consecutive days from Aug. 12-15. The semis semis would follow on Aug. 18-19, with the final — which had been slated for last month in Istanbul — on Aug. 23. All would be single-elimination games,
The four clubs who have already punched their tickets to Portugal are Atalanta (Italy), Atletico Madrid (Spain), Paris Saint-Germain (France) and RB Leipzig (Germany). German champ Bayern Munich leads England’s Chelsea 3-0 in their two match, total goals series, while Italian titan Juventus trails French side Lyon 1-0. Meantime, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona is deadlocked 1-1 with Napoli.
The Champions League would become the first and highest-profile cross-border sporting staple to return amid the health crisis, although several prominent domestic soccer leagues have already successfully restarted, including the top divisions in Germany and Spain. England’s Premier League, the planet’s most-watched sports league, comes back this week. The National Women’s Soccer League on pace to be the first North American circuit to reboot when it kicks off with a month-long tourney in Utah starting in late June.
Last week, Major League Soccer unveiled plans to return in Orlando, Florida from July 8, with the NBA, NHL and NFL hoping to follow later in the summer. Meantime, Major League Baseball might not come back this year at all.