UEFA to pick Lisbon as Champions League knockout rounds host

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — The Champions League final is heading to Lisbon, with UEFA planning an Aug. 23 final to cap seven broadcast nights in a 12-day span of elite European teams playing knockout soccer.

The widely reported UEFA wish to hold an eight-team knockout bracket in two empty stadiums in Portugal’s capital was confirmed in reports Monday by broadcaster Sky Italia.

UEFA’s executive committee must agree on the plan on Wednesday among a series of decisions to reschedule international soccer — for Europe’s clubs and national teams — after the coronavirus pandemic upended the global sports calendar.

The most prized trophy in club soccer will be decided in a rare Sunday final at Benfica’s Stadium of Light. It was originally to be on Saturday, May 30 at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, but UEFA looked elsewhere when that city was no longer practical..

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Semifinals will be shared by the Stadium of Light and the nearby home stadium of Sporting Lisbon on Aug. 18-19. Four quarterfinals are planned on consecutive nights from Aug. 12-15, Sky Italia reported.

Four quarterfinals places have yet to be decided, and the UEFA executive panel must decide on Wednesday where to schedule second-leg games in the round of 16 that were postponed in March.

Those games could also go to Lisbon or be played without fans in the home stadiums of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City.

The Europa League mini-tournament is set to be shared by four cities in western Germany with Cologne hosting the final on Friday, Aug. 21. It was meant to be on Wednesday, May 27 in Gdansk, Poland.

The second-tier competition also paused at the round of 16 in March. Six first-leg games were played and two more — Inter Milan-Getafe and Roma-Sevilla — could not be played in Italy when that country was hit hard by coronavirus cases.

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