Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz will host the revamped Champion’s League final
The phrase “the new normal” is being rolled out left, right and center these days. It covers the way we work, the way we live, and it also covers sports. As sporting events around the world start up again this summer, we will have to get used to welcoming back our old favorites, even when they look a little (or a lot) different. Soccer’s European Champions League is a case in point.
The Champions League is one of the most anticipated events in the sporting calendar – and also one of the most bet on. After a dearth of sport this summer, sports fans and bettors alike are counting the days until this new look tournament is resumed. For those looking to wager on international sports, not just those based in or popular in North America, there are sportsbooks available. Pinnacle for instance, established in 1998, opens its arms to both seasoned bettors and newbies, and has a reputation for offering some of the largest returns in the online wagering industry for sports taking place around the globe.
The Current State of Play
Things ground to a halt in March three quarters of the way through what had been a dramatic round of 16. RB Leipzig and Atalanta took care of Tottenham and Valencia respectively, whilst PSG edged out Dortmund and current holders Liverpool were knocked out by Atlético Madrid. That left four ties hanging, with just one leg played.
Lyon are 1-0 up after their home tie against Juventus while Chelsea have it all to play for when they travel to Munich after suffering a 3-0 defeat in England’s capital city. Napoli and Barcelona tied 1-1 in Italy, setting up the return leg for what will probably be the tie of the round. Finally Manchester City, fresh from a successful appeal against their Champions League ban, will take on Real Madrid. Pep Guardiola will be confident that their 2-1 win in Spain will be enough to see them through.
Caption: Empty stadia will greet the Champions League players
The remaining four fixtures of the round of 16 will be played behind closed doors. Since top level soccer restarted, the absence of vociferous home support has resulted in an end to home advantage. That cannot be helped, but could very well have a bearing, particularly on the Barcelona Napoli game.
The rest of the tournament really is different. Portugal’s capital city on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean hosts the quarters, semis and the final. It has two world class stadia, the hotels required and none of the remaining teams are from Portugal.
The quarters and semi-finals will be one leg affairs, with the final taking place on 23rd August at the Estádio da Luz. The original venue for the final – the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey – will host the final in 2021.
The quarter finals take place on consecutive days in the second week of August.
12th August: Atalanta v Paris Saint-Germain
13th August: Leipzig v Atlético Madrid
14th August: Napoli or Barcelona v Chelsea or Bayern München
15th August: Real Madrid or Manchester City v Lyon or Juventus
The semi-finals take place on the 18th and 19th August with Atalanta or PSG taking on Leipzig or Atlético Madrid in the first, and the winners of the third quarter final taking on the winners of the fourth to determine the remaining finalists.
Neither Leipzig and Atlético nor Atalanta and PSG have ever faced each other before, and the Paris outfit will be keen to end a poor run against Serie A opposition which has seen them lose six and draw two of their eight games against top flight Italian clubs.
There is no doubt that it will be an unusual end to proceedings, but the fact that it is going ahead at all is remarkable. Though the changes to the format will affect each club differently (it will negate those sides who traditionally relied on home advantage in the formerly two legged affairs) it is the same for everyone. Crucially, for whoever lifts the trophy on that evening in late August, history will not discriminate their victory from any of the others in the tournament’s past. Finally, for those of you who do like a wager, don’t forget to check out the tax situation with regards to your winnings.