The idea of playing out the remainder of the 2019/20 Champions League in a knockout format – or indeed resuming it at all – has got the football world purring. As it should do. All the best teams on the continent playing each other in one-off 90 minute matches? Sounds delightful.
But that’s because we aren’t playing in it, though.
The Champions League has a set return date! ?
‣ The remaining last-16 ties may be played at their original venues.
‣ The Final 8 will held in Lisbon from August 12.
‣ Final set for August 23rd. pic.twitter.com/FVf0QULY5W
— 90min (@90min_Football) June 17, 2020
There’s no doubt the players are raring to go and battle it out for glory, but it’s not going to be entirely fair, is it?
We’re busy frothing at the mouth at the prospect, but for the 12 sides still left in the competition, there will be mixed emotions. Winners and losers, you could say. More specifically, these winners and losers.
Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus need to overturn a 1-0 defeat to Lyon
Three immediate sides who spring to mind and fall under the ‘winner’ bracket are the Italian contingent left in the competition.
Atalanta are the only side of the three to have already secured their spot in the quarter-finals following their barmy 8-4 aggregate win over Valencia, meanwhile Juventus will need to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit and Napoli will look to build on their 1-1 draw with Barcelona.
But in the case of all three, their Serie A campaign will be ongoing into August, keeping them in far better physical condition to deal with the remaining rounds which will begin on 12 August.
Over in the Premier League it’s a similar story, with Manchester City and Chelsea set to play their final top flight fixture of the current campaign on 26 July.
Manchester City are in a strong position to reach the last eight
Chelsea can be somewhat discounted – barring a Liverpool-esque comeback – but City are seeking a maiden Champions League crown and look on course to reach the last eight following their superb 2-1 win over Los Blancos in Madrid.
Their wait is longer than the Italian trio are due to face, but it’s still far less than a number sides still in the competition. One team in particular secured an excellent victory in their first leg clash, but are facing a far greater task in the return leg due to the outcome of their domestic league…
Bayern Munich secured victory over Chelsea in the first leg of their tie
Plenty will argue that there is no way Bayern Munich can lose in this season’s Champions League – having been most peoples’ favourites to lift the trophy this season.
However, with the Bundesliga season coming to an end on 27 June, the wait they will have before returning to play in the Champions League could have a serious impact on their aspirations to secure the trophy for the first time in seven years.
Granted, they haven’t reached the quarter-final stage just yet – they have, though, let’s be real – but they’re looking at a considerable length of time without playing a competitive game before taking on a fellow heavyweight in the last eight.
The same applies to fellow German side RB Leipzig, who too will face a similar spell without kicking a ball competitively before they embark on their first ever venture into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Lyon hold a 1-0 home leg advantage over Juventus
As tough as that may sound, it’s not a scratch on what the two French sides left in the competition have to deal with.
Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait more then five months before they can play a competitive match again, as Ligue 1 was cancelled for the 2019/20 season with the last round of fixtures taking place back in early March.
That will offer a considerable advantage to those who will play the French sides, most notably Juventus, who have a 1-0 first leg defeat to overturn against Lyon.
Lionel Messi will not endure an overly long wait with Barcelona
We say middle ground as these sides neither fall into the category of being losers nor winners, and instead end up somewhere in between.
For the Spanish sides – Atletico, Real Madrid and Barcelona – their La Liga campaigns will continue into mid-July, leaving them with a long break before the Champions League returns, but not anywhere near as long as those from France – or even Germany.
Nevertheless it will be tough to keep up fitness, but they’ll be glad they don’t fall into Lyon’s boat, and they shouldn’t feel too disheartened by their chances of success.