The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League season will resume on Aug. 7 and be completed later than month following short tournament in Lisbon, European soccer’s governing body formally announced Wednesday following a vote by its membership.
The world’s most prestigious club competition had just begun its knockout phase when play ground to a halt in March because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new plan, the four remaining round of 16 second-leg matches would be played without fans starting on Aug. 7, either in the Portuguese capital or in the cities where they were originally scheduled. The winners of those series will advance to the 2-day tourney in Lisbon alongside the four teams that have already clinched a quarterfinal berth.
The quarterfinals matches will take place over four consecutive days from Aug. 12-15. The semis would follow on Aug. 18 and 19, with the final — which had been slated for last month in Istanbul before the health crisis turned the world upside-down — on Aug. 23. All would be single-elimination games.
The four clubs who have already punched their tickets to Portugal are Atalanta (Italy), Atletico Madrid (Spain), Paris Saint-Germain (France) and RB Leipzig (Germany). Bayern Munich leads Chelsea 3-0 in their two-match, total goals series, while Italian titan Juventus trails French side Lyon 1-0. Meantime, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona is deadlocked 1-1 with Napoli.
The Women’s Champions League, meanwhile, will conclude Aug. 21-30 in Bilbao and San Sebastian, Spain. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final will be one-game rounds like the men. The quarterfinal matchups are Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona, four-time defending champion Lyon vs. Bayern Munich, Glasgow City vs. Vfl Wolfsburg, and Arsenal vs. PSG.
The Champions League will become the first and highest-profile cross-border sporting event to return amid the pandemic, although several prominent domestic soccer leagues have already successfully restarted, including the top divisions in Germany and Spain. England’s Premier League, the planet’s most-watched sports league, comes back with a pair of matches Wednesday.
The National Women’s Soccer League is on pace to be the first North American circuit to reboot when it kicks off with a month-long tourney in Utah starting in late June. Major League Soccer has unveiled plans to return in Orlando, Florida on July 8, with the NBA, NHL and NFL hoping to follow later in the summer. Meantime, Major League Baseball might not come back this year at all.
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