Saturday 11/28/20

The week in football: Champions and Europa League reach quarters

There will be no fans at matches as the public health crisis continues to rage, with news two Atletico Madrid personnel have tested positive also clouding matters.

Thiago, Alvaro Odriozola and Robert Lewandowski walk across the hotel terrace where Bayern Munich team are staying in Portugal. Photo: Matthias Balk/dpa.
Thiago, Alvaro Odriozola and Robert Lewandowski walk across the hotel terrace where Bayern Munich team are staying in Portugal. Photo: Matthias Balk/dpa.

European club football heads into uncharted territory this week with the Champions League and Europa League both holding their last-eight matches as on-off games in Lisbon and western Germany respectively.

The World Cup-style format has been forced upon European governing body UEFA because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to wrap things up quickly before domestic seasons begin again in September.

There will be no fans at matches as the public health crisis continues to rage, with news two Atletico Madrid personnel have tested positive also clouding matters.

Champions League

The first one-legged quarter-final at Benfica's stadium is Atalanta against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday. It is due to be followed by Atletico against RB Leipzig on Thursday at Sporting Lisbon's ground - assuming the Spaniards get the go ahead to play after the positive tests in their party. The unnamed duo affected are quarantining and the club are testing all staff travelling to Portugal again.

Bayern Munich take on Barcelona in the stand-out tie of the round at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on Friday. The German champions are preparing at a five-star resort in the Algarve. "We only have Barcelona in our minds," said striker Robert Lewandowski, who with 13 goals so far is eyeing the Champions League season record of 17 set by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manchester City face Lyon in the final last-eight match on Saturday at Sporting's Estadio Jose Alvalade with the winner knowing they face Barca or Bayern in the semis.

Europa League

Inter Milan meet Bayer Leverkusen later on Monday in Dusseldorf while down the road in Cologne, the venue for the final, 2017 winners Manchester United battle Copenhagen in another one-off quarter-final.

Transfer speculation continues to swirl around Leverkusen playmaker Kai Havertz while United have also been heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, with media reports saying a supposed Dortmund deadline for a deal of August 10 has been scoffed at by Old Trafford officials.

Wolverhampton Wanderers play Europa League powerhouses Sevilla on Tuesday in Duisburg as Shakhtar Donetsk face Basel in Gelsenkirchen.

Fan Return

Last week the German Football League (DFL) agreed on a partial return for supporters for the new season in September, without away fans and alcohol. But German politicians and health authorities hold the final say with a conference call on the matter due later on Monday.

And with novel coronavirus cases rising again, officials say there are higher priorities at the moment than professional football.

"We are not planning to make a definite decision on the DFL's hygiene concept," Berlin's state health minister Dilek Kalayci told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.

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