Champions League and Europa League return: Where is it happening and how will it work?

By Sports Desk August 04, 2020

Five months after the Champions League and Europa League were halted, the continent's creme de la creme are ready to finish what they started.

Atletico Madrid's dramatic extra-time win at Anfield seems an age ago, as does Manchester United's 5-0 thrashing of LASK, with those results two of the final matches to occur before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season.

Now, with those domestic leagues and cup competitions that did return having finished, the focus is solely on Europe's elite.

The Europa League resumes on Wednesday, with the Champions League coming back on Friday - both competitions reaching a conclusion this month with mini tournaments taking place in different countries.

Here, we detail the who, what, why, where and when.

 

PREVIOUSLY ON... THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND EUROPA LEAGUE

Both the Europa League and the Champions League are at the last-16 stage, but while all 16 teams remain in the Europa League, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Tottenham are all out of Europe's premier club competition.

Their conquerors - Atletico, Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta and RB Leipzig - all won across two legs prior to pause being pressed on the campaign.

Only six of the eight first legs in the Europa League happened, with four away teams - United, Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel claiming advantages, while Istanbul Basaksehir beat Copenhagen 1-0 in Turkey and Wolves drew 1-1 at Olympiacos.

With Spain and Italy being two of the countries initially hardest hit by the pandemic, Sevilla's tie with Roma and Inter's fixture against Getafe could not begin. 

 

SO HOW WILL THIS ROUND CONCLUDE?

Let's deal with the Champions League first.

PSG and Atalanta can put their feet up knowing their quarter-final begins on August 12, the day before Leipzig face Atletico Madrid.

Four last-16 ties remain and the quartet of home teams in the second leg - Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich - will respectively host Real Madrid, Lyon, Napoli and Chelsea in their own stadiums without fans present.

That is also the case in the Europa League, though Sevilla's clash with Roma, and Inter's encounter with Getafe will now be one-off fixtures at neutral venues in Germany.

 

AND FROM THE QUARTER-FINALS ONWARDS?

Due to the need to get this thing wrapped up quickly before the 2020-21 season begins, both the Champions League and Europa League have done away with two-legged affairs for the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Instead every last-eight and last-four match will be decided across 90 minutes - or 120 minutes, or a penalty shoot-out should they be required.

And with the pandemic still a very real threat, the two competitions will be concluded in one city to minimise travel and reduce the risk of spreading COVID within the squads.

Benfica's Estadio da Luz will be the venue for the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final between August 12 and 23, while those comparative stages in the Europa League, taking place between August 10 and 21, will be staged in Cologne.

 

WILL ALL THE PLAYERS STILL BE INVOLVED?

This stage of the football calendar is typically transfer time and even a global pandemic could not stop that.

So Leipzig's Timo Werner, who scored four times for the Bundesliga club in their run to the last eight, is now on Chelsea's books while winger Leroy Sane has swapped Manchester City for Bayern Munich. Neither man will be able to play for either their new team or their old.

Those like Achraf Hakimi, a recent Inter signing from Dortmund, will also be reduced to a watching brief.

It is a different case for Hakimi's new team-mate Alexis Sanchez, who has been included in Antonio Conte's squad for the latter stages after terms were reached on a loan extension with Manchester United - though a new arrangement will need to be made for him to be available from the quarter-finals onwards.

Sanchez's parent club were not willing to let Roma have loanee Chris Smalling any longer, though, the English centre-back having bade farewell to the Eternal City on Tuesday ahead of his return to United, for whom he cannot feature either given his prior involvement with the Giallorossi.

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