Eyes on the Prize: Return of the Mighty Champion’s League
The wait is over now & it’s not long before the Champion’s League takes flight again!
For all the football-fanatic passengers like us who had long been waiting for this jet – You’re in for a thrilling ride!
What’s more this season, is that once the thrill begins, we’re going to have to put on our favourite jerseys & fasten the seatbelts tight, because this trip is going to be faster than ever before!
With single league formats, the UCL action is going to be nothing short of nerve-racking!
The managers won’t get a second chance to alter their strategies. The teams won’t have the support of their home crowd. And team consistency or form won’t matter.
The sole focus for this time is – Victory!
So, before we hop on to the madness, here’s a quick recap of all that you need to know!
PICKING UP RIGHT WHERE WE LEFT OFF…
12th March 2020 and the first 4 matches of the round of 16 came to a close!
While Leipzig beat Spurs 4-0 on aggregate, Valencia had been brutally knocked down by Atalanta 4-8 on aggregate. PSG in the meanwhile had beat 9-man Dortmund to by a goal to progress into the quarterfinals with an aggregate score of 3-2.
The highlight of the night however was English champions and Former UCL winners, Liverpool being kicked out by Atletico Madrid. In an end-to-end game that ended 3-2 in favour of Atletico, Simeone had yet again managed to put up a flawless show. Atletico progressed to the quarterfinal with an aggregate score of 4-2 in Extra time.
The 2nd legs of the remaining 4 games were due to be played the following week. The 1st leg scores of these ties were as follows:
Considering 3 red cards across the 4 games, the heat is self-explanatory!
WHAT’S NEW IN STORE…
The COVID-19 outbreak had brought a pause to football. With its delayed return, several changes in the game’s format & rules have also come along.
1. SINGLE LEGGED FORMAT
The games that were earlier played over 2 legs with aggregate score being considered are now being decided with single matches. This will be similar to the world cup knockout stages.
Once the remaining 4 games of the Round-of-16 are completed, this rule will be applied to all the games.
2. 3rd STADIUMS
With only 1 match being played, it had to be conducted in a third stadium for sure!
All the remaining fixtures have therefore been moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The matches will be played in José Alvalade Stadium and Benfica’s home stadium. The final would be played as decided earlier, at Estádio Sport Lisboa e Benfica. The stadiums would be empty as in the case of the domestic leagues.
3. GAME CHANGES
With football changing after COVID-19, even the Champion’s League had to adapt.
The 5-substitution rule would be applicable in all games. The team would also get a drinks-break in the middle of every half. Social distancing norms would continue to be maintained and number of ground staff & team support will still be limited.
WHAT TO EXPECT…
We know the battles, but not their outcomes yet!
With all teams looking to knock on the door of the Quarterfinals, here’s what we could witness next.
Among the first 8 teams, PSG faces Atalanta while Atletico is up against Leipzig.
Of the remaining, we can possibly witness either Barcelona or Napoli take on the winner of Bayern-Chelsea.
The semi-finals would also be a rough ride no one can predict about!
Looking at the fixtures and path to the final, the ride seems to be unpredictable. While Paris & Atletico have relatively easier competition, the other side compensated for all the weight!
Three of Europe’s domestic league champions would battle it out for 90 minutes to race to the throne!
Well, now that we’re all caught up with what has happened it’s time to prep for what is about to come!
It’s time to board the UCL 2020 flight!
The aircraft bound to Lisbon weighs heavy with the hopes of fans from across the globe!