Sat. Feb 27th, 2021
Champions League, forced to shift venues, blurs notions of home and away.


Two European soccer giants, Atlético Madrid and Chelsea, will meet in the Champions League on Tuesday. The web-site of this considerably anticipated game? Bucharest, Romania.

On Wednesday, Manchester City will perform the German staff Borussia Mönchengladbach. That game will be in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, wherever the English champion Liverpool beat Germany’s RB Leipzig final week.

In the Europa League, the continent’s 2nd-tier club championship, neutral internet sites are now pretty much as widespread as property video games. Final week, Spanish and English teams played in Italy, and teams from Norway and Germany met in Spain. On Thursday, a week following the London club Arsenal played to a draw towards Portugal’s Benfica in Rome, the teams are set to meet once more in the 2nd leg of their not-property-and-property tie close to Athens.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc with worldwide sports activities schedules for a 12 months, and that chaos continues to have an impact on soccer’s greatest club tournaments. The causes — government edicts, travel restrictions and quarantine principles — fluctuate close to Europe. In some nations, teams are even now permitted to travel to and from their opponents’ stadiums with no challenge. In many others, nations have blocked guests from total nations, or drawn up onerous principles that make this kind of travel impractical in a soccer season when teams typically perform two or 3 video games a week.

UEFA, the European soccer governing physique that runs the competitions, has made a decision that if restrictions adversely have an impact on any game, it will be played at a neutral web-site wherever travel is permitted. But the selection to perform knockout video games in destinations seemingly picked at random has led to confusion, and not a small grumbling.

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