UEFA have announced the return of European competition in August for clubs and countries.
The Champions League, Europa League and international fixtures were all postponed indefinitely in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and there were fears that the tournaments could be cancelled completely.
Europe’s governing body has today announced however that the competitions will all return, albeit in a different format.
The Champions League and Europa League are both currently still in the last-16 stages, with some fixtures fully completed and others still with the second leg to be played. Both tournaments will now continue, but all fixtures for that tournament will be played in one city from the last 8 stage onwards.
In the Champions League, the remaining Last 16 ties will have their second-legs completed on 7/8 August 2020. UEFA are yet to decide whether these will happen as a return leg in the home ground or in a neutral ground in Portugal, where the rest of the tournament will take place. The last 8 will take place entirely in Portugal, in a straight-knockout style tournament akin to the World Cup. Each single-leg tie will be played on consecutive days from 12-15th August, before the semi-finals on 18-19th August and the final on August 23rd in Lisbon.
In the Europa League, the same applies for their Last 16 ties but the city the rest of the tournament will be hosted in is Cologne, Germany. The remaining ties in the current round will be played on August 5th and 6th before the tournament becomes a single-leg straight knockout competition. The quarter-finals will be played on 10-11th August, semi-finals on 16-17th August before the final in Cologne on August 21st.
The UEFA Super Cup will now be played in Budapest on September 24th 2020 at the Puskas Arena. Next seasons Champions League group stages will begin on October 20th 2020.
With France already announcing their 2020/21 Ligue 1 season will begin on August 22nd and Spain announcing the 2020/21 La Liga season will begin on September 12th, players at the top clubs that are still in Europe will barely get a break this summer.
Euro 2020, which will now take place in 2021, also means that the likelihood of a break next summer for the top players is unlikely too. With more fixtures crammed into a smaller time frame, injuries and rotation will be a big figure in next year’s campaign and something everyone will have to keep an eye on to maximise performance.
Players with fitness issues this year such as Harry Kane and Paul Pogba will need to be managed carefully, with managers potentially sacrificing them from the team in some games in order to preserve them for others.
The good news is football is back and preparing openly for the future. We can see how it all is beginning to shape up and can begin to see a shred of normality returning to the football calendar. It’s very possible though, that it will be at the expense of the conditioning of the players.