UEFA insists ‘no Plan B’ for Champions League amid Lisbon virus concerns

Aleksander Ceferin
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Updated 01 July 2020

UEFA insists ‘no Plan B’ for Champions League amid Lisbon virus concerns

  • Ceferin has admitted that it is unlikely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds

LAUSANNE: UEFA insists there is “no reason to prepare a Plan B” for the final eight of the Champions League in Lisbon despite Portuguese authorities reintroducing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“We hope everything will be fine and that it will be possible to organize the tournament in Portugal. For the moment there is no reason to prepare a Plan B,” a UEFA spokesperson told AFP.

The spokesperson added that European football's governing body is in “constant contact with the Portuguese Football Federation and the local authorities.” 

UEFA announced earlier this month that the latter stages of the Champions League would be staged exceptionally as a straight knockout competition from the quarterfinals onwards with all matches in Lisbon.

Earlier this month, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “For now things look well, and we hope everything will be fine until we organize the final eight.”

He added: “We are assessing the situation, not week by week but day by day, and we will adapt when the time comes, if necessary.”

Portugal had not suffered to the same extent as other western European countries during the pandemic but last week Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that some coronavirus restrictions would be reimposed in and around the capital to help control fresh outbreaks.

From Wednesday, 19 neighborhoods on the northern edges of Lisbon will go back into lockdown.

Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people in these areas, compared to 10 people in the wider Lisbon area and 20 people across the rest of Portugal.

The final eight is due to begin with the first quarterfinal on Aug. 12, with the final scheduled for Aug.  23.

Matches will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz and the nearby Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting.

Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atalanta all qualified for the quarterfinals before the competition was suspended in March.

The remaining last 16, second legs are: Juventus vs. Lyon; Manchester City vs. Real Madrid; Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea and Barcelona vs. Napoli.

It is hoped those matches — set for Aug. 7 and 8 — will not need to be played on neutral ground but they could also be moved to Portugal, with UEFA standing by to spread the matches around the country, in Lisbon as well as in the northern cities of Porto and Guimaraes.

Ceferin has admitted that it is unlikely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds but said UEFA would reassess the situation in July.


'World class' Vardy rocks Arsenal as Leicester go fourth

Updated 26 October 2020

'World class' Vardy rocks Arsenal as Leicester go fourth

  • Vardy was only fit enough for the bench after a calf injury, but Rodgers sent the striker on with 30 minutes left

LONDON: Brendan Rodgers saluted "world class" Jamie Vardy after he sealed Leicester's late 1-0 win as spluttering Arsenal crashed to a third defeat in their last four Premier League games on Sunday.
Vardy was only fit enough for the bench after a calf injury, but Rodgers sent the striker on with 30 minutes left. Vardy responded with his sixth goal of the season.
The 33-year-old has made a habit of tormenting Arsenal and has now scored 11 goals in 12 Premier League games against them.
"Our plan was always to bring Jamie Vardy into the game and he can stretch it. That is why he is a big player," Rodgers said after Leicester's first win at Arsenal since 1973.
"He makes the big contributions in the big games. That shows you the level he is at and he is a world class player. I'm lucky to have him."
Leicester climbed to fourth after ending a run of two successive league defeats.
"We deserved it, we played against a really good side and have players who can run in behind," Rodgers said.
"To keep a clean sheet and play with the quality and calmness was good."
Arsenal are languishing in 10th after a second consecutive league loss following their 1-0 defeat at Manchester City last weekend.
As well as the disallowed goal, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was disappointed by his team's lack of cutting edge.
"I'm really disappointed, we had it in our hands in the first half and I don't know how the hell Lacazette's goal was disallowed," Arteta said.
"They caught us with space at the back and in that moment we lost the game.
"It is difficult to create spaces with 10 men behind the ball, but we should have finished the game better. When it comes to those moments you can't give away chances at the back.
"We still had some moments after the goal but gave away too many free kicks. It's not an easy thing to do but we have to improve."
The principle problem is a sudden dip in form for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabon forward is without a goal in his last five league games -- his worst drought since 2014, although he did net against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday.
Aubameyang has scored just once in the league this season, hardly the kind of form Arteta would have hoped for after handing the striker a lucrative new contract in September.
Arsenal's ability to challenge for a top four place rests on Aubameyang leading the charge. So far this term he has been a flop.
Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno was at fault for the goal his side conceded in Vienna and the German nearly gifted Leicester the lead inside the first two minutes.
Leno came dashing way off his line but his attempted clearance went straight to James Maddison. The midfielder's 40-yard effort floated just wide.
Alexandre Lacazette headed in from an Arsenal corner moments later, but the goal was disallowed for offside against Granit Xhaka.
Arsenal were on top and Bukayo Saka's strike forced a good save from Kasper Schmeichel before Aubameyang headed over from Kieran Tierney's cross.
Lacazette should have done better with a good chance from another Tierney cross before Saka shot into the side-netting.
Arsenal suffered a blow when David Luiz limped off early in the second half.
Arteta sent on Nicolas Pepe midway through the half in a bid to perk Arsenal up.
Bellerin brought a good save from Schmeichel when he met Aubameyang's cross with a powerful volley.
But Arsenal were hit with a sucker punch in the 80th minute.
Youri Tielemans' ball over the top for Cengiz Under was perfectly weighted and the Turk squared across goal for Vardy to head into the empty net.