Champions League was interrupted this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, it has taken longer for the competition to be concluded even when the football world is already thinking about the Champion League 2020/2021 season. Several changes have been implemented, such as the introduction of cooling breaks and the increment of substitutions from three to five. Still, it remains to be seen whether those changes will be adopted in the upcoming season.
Champion League 2020/2021 will be the 66th season of the competition and the 29th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. There are teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City that qualified for a spot in the league long before the season was over.
Some clubs are still hanging in the balance with the hopes that they can still play in the competition next football season depending on the results of the Europa League final. Below is everything you need to know about the Champions League 2020/2021 season.
Adapting to COVID-19 pandemic
The club has had no option but to adapt its scheduling to the global emergency brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic. This means that the start of next season’s Champions League is effectively delayed by a month. As of now, the date that has been confirmed by UEFA for the commencement of the next edition of the league is October 20.
Champions League 2019/2020 winner
The League winner gets automatic qualification into next season’s competition as the defending champions. The search for this year's winner is still on, and the remaining clubs are PSG, RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester City, and Lyon. The competition is in the quarter-final stage, and only one of those teams will be crowned winners.
Europa League 2019/2020 winner
Winners of the Europa League also get automatic qualification into the Champions League for the next season. The competition is in the semi-final stage with Sevilla, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk being the remaining teams.
A list of the teams that have qualified for Champion League 2020/2021 comprises clubs that finished in the top four slots in Europe's domestic clubs. Below are the clubs that have qualified for the Champions League 2020/2021:
Spanish La Liga
- Real Madrid (Champions)
- Atletico Madrid
- Liverpool (champions)
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
Italy (Serie A)
- Juventus (champions)
- Inter Milan
- Bayern Munich (champions)
- Borussia Dortmund
- RB Leipzig
- Borussia Monchengladbach
France (Ligue 1)
- PSG (declared champions in abandoned season)
Russia (Russian PL)
- Zenit (champions)
- Lokomotiv Moscow
Portugal (Primeira Liga)
- Porto (champions)
Belgium (Jupiler Pro League)
- Club Brugge (finished first in abandoned season)
Ukraine (Ukrainian PL)
- Shakhtar Donetsk (champions)
Turkey (Super Lig)
- Istanbul Basaksehir (champions)
There are still six more slots that will be filled through playoffs. As things stand, only Ajax and Red Bull Salzburg are locked into the playoff round.
This round serves as a play-in where teams have to go through the group stage over two legs. Other qualifying rounds with teams from smaller clubs will be concluded in August.
Group stage draw and commencement
This year’s group stage draw will be conducted on Thursday, October 1. The draw will take place in Athens, Greece, where the 32 clubs will be split into eight groups, each having four teams.
The Champion League 2020/2021 group stages action will then commence on October 20. Every team will play against all three group stage opponents at home and away, making it six games. The group stage will end on Wednesday 9th, December.
Schedule for 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League
When does Champion League 2020/2021 start? Initially, the tournament was scheduled to start in June, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed to August. UEFA Executive Committee announced the new schedule on June 17, 2020.
All the qualifying matches, apart from the playoff round, will be played as single-leg fixtures. The fixtures' venue will be hosted by one of the teams and will be decided by a draw except for the preliminary round that will be played out on neutral grounds.
Where is the UCL final 2021?
UEFA League final will be hosted in Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium. This venue was expected to host the 2020 decider, but now it will have the chance to host the next final on May 29, 2021. Saint Petersburg, which was scheduled to host 2021 final, will now host the one of 2022.
UEFA Champions League rules to consider
Due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across Europe, UEFA has special rules that will be applied to the qualifying phase and playoffs. They are:
- A total of 26 teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage directly, including the UEFA Europa League and UEFA League champions. Still, six teams have to qualify through the qualifying phase.
- All teams that will be eliminated in the UEFA Champions League qualification will automatically enter the Europa League.
- There will be a mini single-match tournament that will be the preliminary round for the Champions League.
- Before every draw, UEFA will publish the list of known travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. All teams will be required to inform UEFA of any additional restrictions. If a team fails to report such restrictions and, as a result, a match cannot occur, the team will be considered to have forfeited the match.
- If travel restrictions prevent the home team from hosting a match, the team will have to propose an alternative venue where the match can be played without restrictions; otherwise, the team will also be considered to have forfeited the match. The same will apply if the away team's country restrictions make it impossible to leave, but this time UEFA will be the one to decide a neutral venue.
- If either team refuses to play the match, they would have forfeited, and if both teams refuse to play, they will be disqualified.
- If a team's players or officials test positive for COVID-19 preventing the team from playing a match before the deadline, the team would be considered to have forfeited the match.
Champion League 2020/2021 season will usher in an era of change to the sport. Much has already happened this season as the world continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, life has to go on, and so is football. Whether matches will be played behind closed doors or not, the competition will still be highly anticipated as the elite clubs across Europe battle it out for the trophy.
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