Mon, 21 Sep 2020

Champions League ready to resume, at long last

News24
03 Aug 2020, 18:42 GMT+10

After an enforced hiatus of almost five months, the

There is, though, no question of further changes being made to the formats despite concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in and around Lisbon, and more recent worries in Germany about a rise in cases there.

UEFA also recently insisted it was "confident" there would be no more delays despite cases of coronavirus emerging among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla.

It is, in any case, now or never.

Indeed, the preliminary round of next season's Champions League begins next Saturday, the same day Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea and Napoli visit Barcelona in their outstanding last 16 second legs.

Before that, Manchester City defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at home against Real on Friday as Pep Guardiola's side target Champions League glory on the back of the club's success at getting a two-year ban from the competition overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The winner of that tie will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals in Lisbon.

Wolves' longest year

It is the Europa League which is first up, though, with the last 16 being completed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Two ties -- Inter Milan against Getafe and Sevilla against Roma -- will go ahead as one-off ties in Germany as the first legs were never played.

Six second legs will also be played with the winners heading to Germany for the last eight.

Among the ties to be completed is Manchester United's against Austrian side LASK, which will be a formality for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team after they won 5-0 in the first leg in March.

Their form since the Premier League resumed in mid-June has been excellent and they have already sealed a place in the 2020-21 Champions League, but now they want to finish this never-ending season with a trophy.

"Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win," Bruno Fernandes told MUTV.

"I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we'll win the trophy."

United, Europa League winners in 2017, could yet find themselves facing Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals in Cologne on August 16 should both teams get there.

Wolves entertain Greek champions Olympiakos on Thursday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Their campaign started more than a year ago now, with a 2-0 win over Northern Irish side Crusaders in the second qualifying round on July 25, 2019.

Extending it by another couple of weeks would do them no harm.

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