Champions League to be played in Lisbon

Graham Dunbar
The Champions League will be played in August in Lisbon, while the Europa League is set for Germany

The European Champions League will finish with a mini-tournament in Lisbon, restarting in August after a five-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight teams will play from the quarterfinals in knockout games at two venues over 12 days, the UEFA executive committee decided Wednesday.

The final will be held at the home stadium of Portuguese club Benfica on Sunday, August 23 - the latest date in the competition's 65-year history.

UEFA will decide next month if fans can attend the games. Currently, games in Europe's most prestigious leagues are being played without fans.

"We don't know if only the local fans, or no fans, or fans from different clubs could travel to the venues (in Portugal)," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

The unprecedented solution also sees the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul - the originally scheduled host for the final - pushed back by one year. Future finals hosts St. Petersburg, Russia, Munich, Germany, and London will also take their turn one year later.

Portugal's public authorities and health officials can have the final say if the Champions League, potentially also including some outstanding round of 16 games, can come to the nation of more than 10 million people, which has reported more than 1500 deaths related to COVID-19.

"For now there is no reason to have a Plan B," Ceferin said.

The Europa League will also get a knockout tournament. It will be played in four stadiums in western Germany starting August 10.

Cologne is set to host the final on Friday, August 21. It was originally scheduled to be on May 27 in Gdansk, Poland. The Polish city will host the 2021 final.

Both competitions have yet to complete their quarterfinal line-ups with round of 16 games halted. Venues for those games in early August were not decided Wednesday, though could be moved to Portugal and Germany.

The Champions League had four second-leg games postponed in March at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City. Those clubs all want to host the return games on the August 7-8 dates allocated, UEFA said. Stadiums in Porto and Guimaraes are on standby.

In the Europa League, only six of eight first-leg games in the round of 16 were played. Single games have been ordered for Inter Milan-Getafe and Roma-Sevilla, which are likely to be in Germany.

UEFA competitions are scheduled to restart after the completion deadline for domestic leagues and cups on August 3. They were given priority to stabilize clubs and the European soccer economy and decide entries to next season's qualifying rounds, which begin on August 8 in the Champions League.

UEFA said next season's group stages will begin one month later than usual - on October 20 in the Champions League and October 22 in the Europa League. The draws will be made on October 1-2 in Athens, instead of the usual venue Monaco.