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Champions’ League - Lisbon in Pole Position to Host Tournament

Portuguese capital the favoured location for competition’s conclusion... closing stages of Europa League may be moved to Germany.

SL Benfica v CD Tondela - Liga NOS
The empty stands that could accommodate the closing stages of this season’s Champions League, at Benfica’s Estadio de Luz
Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Lisbon has emerged favourite to host an eight-team Champions League knock-out tournament in August.

Everything has yet to be ratified by UEFA, who are planning to move the 30 May final away from Istanbul to support the new proposed format.

Europe’s continental club competitions were stopped in March because of the coronavirus pandemic and UEFA will make its decision on 17 June.

The Europa League final, due to be held in Gdansk, Poland on 27 May, is likely to be moved to Germany.

Lechia Gdansk v Cracovia - PKO Ekstraklasa
Stadion Energa Gdansk would have been the first Polish venue to host a European final this season having been scheduled for the Europa League Final. But the latter stages of the competition is expected now to be played in one country.
Photo by Piotr Matusewicz/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

Various scenarios have been debated, including completing the tournament in two-legged ties as originally planned, but recent discussion has centred on the type of format FIFA is favouring for its Club World Cup concept.

It would mean the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final being played in one location as a mini-tournament behind closed doors.

The Champions League final would be played on 23 August.

The Europa League whose Final was originally due for Gdansk, Poland on May 27 is also likely to be moved... to Germany with a 21 August final.

Spain, Germany and Russia have been mentioned as potential hosts for the Champions League but given its location and the fact it has no teams left in this season’s tournament, Portugal is most favoured.

The Portuguese Primera League resumed on 3 June and Lisbon has two stadiums with the facilities required to host high-profile matches and the infrastructure to accommodate the required number of teams.

The Portuguese Primeira Liga resumed on 3 June and most coronavirus restrictions in the country are being lifted this month.

In Germany, the Bundesliga restarted on 16 May and venues in Gelsenkirchen, Cologne, Duisberg and Dusseldorf are likely to stage Europa League games.

What is less clear is how the outstanding last-16 matches in both the Champions League and Europa League will be settled.

Ideally, Uefa would like these to be played in the same locations as the ‘final eight’ games to reduce the potential for coronavirus-related postponements.

However, some clubs will be reluctant to accept this idea as it means giving up home advantage in delicately-placed two-legged ties.

Real Madrid v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Manchester City, 2-1 winners at Real in the first-leg of their round of 16 tie, will not want to forfeit home advantage for the second-leg, and will object to re-locating the game to Lisbon, or any other chosen venue.
Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

In the Champions League for instance, Manchester City are 2-1 up after the away leg of their tie with Real Madrid. Barcelona drew 1-1 at Napoli, while Juventus are 1-0 down after their trip to Lyon.

In the Europa League, Wolves drew 1-1 at Olympiakos in the first leg of their last-16 tie, while Manchester United beat LASK 5-0 in Austria and Bayer Leverkusen won 3-1 at Rangers. Two Europa League ties, both involving clubs from Spain and Italy, are yet to play, although it is felt these could be played as one-off ties.

Clubs in Italy, Spain, Germany and England are due to host last-16 games in the Champions League, with three more from Ukraine, Switzerland and Denmark due to host games in the Europa League.