The fans who feared the end of the season at one point will now be spoiled with successive feisty clashes between Europe’s elites.
The bleak past:
The coronavirus outbreak has changed life as we knew it. Isolation is the new normal as breaking the chain of spread remains the top priority. Sanitizers became omnipresent and masks hid the faces of the superstars we have seen otherwise in full glory. While domestic leagues were hopeful of completion, European season was in jeopardy.
UEFA president Aleksander Caferin said that the season could be scrapped if it doesn’t resume by late June. The hassle involved in international travel made it an extremely difficult issue to tackle. Football, too, was being blasted by a lot for its decision that allegedly aggravated the spread of the virus.
The match between Atalanta and Valencia at the San Siro has been termed ‘game zero’, the one game that turned Italy’s Bergamo into one of the major epicenters of the virus.
The considerate musings:
It was understandable that UEFA would not take another misstep. The decisions of the pasta have been criticized and thus, the decisions of the future needed to spot on. UEFA obliged and made the safety of everyone involved in the process of hosting a match behind closed doors their utmost priority. It was common knowledge that this pandemic would not disappear overnight and football fans would not be able to watch the sport they hold so dear and yearned to watch. Things kept getting worse and the hopes of resumption of European club football dwindled by a frail thread but the people distant from the spotlight made arrangements. Arrangements that were necessary to bring back UEFA Champions League and Europa League again.
As the world learned newer and better ways to combat the virus, UEFA made it possible to get things rolling in the right direction. A quickfire Champions League and Europa League beckons!
UEFA Champions League:
The last four games remaining in the round of 16 of the Champions League, scheduled to be hosted on the 8th and 9th of August, followed by the one-quarter final each day from 13th to 16th August. The fans have never seen Europe’s elites meet in this competition at such great frequency but it is indeed a perilous time and demands pragmatic and unconventional decisions to make things work while.
Atalanta, one of the fairy tale stories of this season will face PSG in the first quarter-finals. Two of the most prolific teams meet and one would expect no scarcity of goals in the tie! Two-legged ties are impossible this season as the teams will be facing off in single, knockout matches from the quarter-finals itself. Leipzig, the upcoming high-flyers from Germany face Diego Simeone’s Los Rojiblancos, the Red and White from Madrid who knocked out the holders. Bayern looks to have one foot in the quarters as they’re three goals too good against a Chelsea team which is currently plagued with injuries. Drama is never far away when Champions League is in question and the fans will be eager to watch what action unfolds before their eyes when the giants go toe to toe.
UEFA Europa League:
Europa League, UEFA’s other premier club competition is set to have four games each day on the 5th and 6th of August to bring the round of 16 to its conclusion. August 10th and 11th will be the dates when the quarter-finals of the competition would be hosted. They would not be two-legged ties but one match knockout, as the champions league. Inter Milan, Manchester United, Sevilla and Roma are being seen as favorites, upon considering the depth and ability of the squads at their disposal. The enigmatic Wolverhampton Wanderers have had a dream season until now and Nuno Espirito Santo looks to be the man who is most likely to cause an upset in the due course of the competition.
This competition which is often touted to be one step below the Champions League has its own merits and allures. Clubs in this competition face each other with similar vigor to make a claim for the elite spot and a very highly revered European trophy.
UEFA Youth League:
The juvenile heroes and the superstars in the making will lock horns as the UEFA Youth League resumes its round of 16-second leg ties in August. Big names like Inter Milan U19, Ajax U19, Dinamo Zagreb U19, Bayern Munich U19, Salzburg U19, Benfica U19, and Lyon U19 will display their flair in this competition, considered to be the benchmark of European football’s upcoming talents. But a real show awaits with the Real Madrid Juvenil A battling it out against Juventus U19 in a clash of the mighty and the belligerent. The finals are to be hosted on the 25th of the same month at Nyon.
UEFA Women’s Champions League:
The clash of the titans continues in August as the Women’s Champions League resumes it’s quarter-final ties and wraps up the whole competition by the end of the same month. With Arsenal, PSG, Bayern Munich, Lyon, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Glasgow City and Wolfsburg competing for being the best in Europe, adrenaline levels will run high this month. Football season has not been so cramped in recent history and this definitely poses a risk for the players’ well being, the fans would be delighted to witness a quickfire carnival of the beautiful game featuring the teams they love!