Atlético-Chelsea of ​​the Champions League will be played in Bucharest

The coronavirus and the British strain have taken part of the home court factor in three of the first leg of the knockout stages of the Champions League and two of the first leg of the sixteenth of the Europa League. The restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom in force in both Germany and Spain (these have been extended this Tuesday by the Spanish Government until March 2), have transferred the Leipzig-Liverpool from February 16 to Budapest, a city that it will also host Borussia Mönchengladbach-Manchester City eight days later. Atlético-Chelsea will be played on February 23 at the National Stadium in Bucharest (Romania), where the team was crowned champion of the Europa League in 2012. This competition has also been affected by the British variant of the coronavirus when having to move from San Sebastián to Turin the Real Sociedad-Manchester United on February 18. In the same competition and on the same day, the Molde-Hoffenheim will be held at the La Cerámica stadium in Vila-real due to the high rate of infections that affects Norway.

The goals of the visiting team will continue to decide the qualifying rounds in the event of a tie in the sum of the two results, but the clubs that have had to look for alternative venues feel harmed. The absence of environmental heat in the stadiums on European nights due to the absence of public in the stands already minimized the effect of the court factor for all participants. Now, the local teams forced by UEFA to look for a neutral field will have to assume the wear and tear of a displacement and the loss of the references to which their players are accustomed on their own playing fields.

Atlético and Real Sociedad, feeling at a disadvantage, proposed that both the first and second leg matches be played on neutral grounds, but they were met with the refusal of UEFA. In the rojiblanco club they slip the discomfort of a trip of no less than two hours the day before the game. “It is not the same for players to go from their homes to the concentration hotel than subjecting them to the wear and tear of a trip,” say representatives of the Madrid team. Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann also resigned in similar terms about his team’s trip to Budapest to host Liverpool: “Not having to travel and sleep in your own bed and not in someone else’s is an advantage that we lose. We do not decide, we have to accept what has been arranged, “he said. Jürgen Klopp’s team has been favored with the decision, but the German coach does not share the transfer of venues. “We are stuck in bubbles that hinder the spread of the virus, I opened a lawyer for an exception,” said the coach of the English champion. The German Government was the first to communicate that it would not make exceptions of any kind to allow the entry of citizens from the Islands.

In Spain, the restrictions ended on February 16, but the extension of the measure announced this Tuesday by the Spanish Executive until March 2 forced Atlético and Real Sociedad to opt for a city. Until they learned of the extension of the aforementioned restrictions, both the Madrid and San Sebastian entities had some hopes of being able to play their home matches in their own stadiums, although at the same time they were working on the stage that is already final.

Since the epidemiological situation worsened in the United Kingdom due to the hypercontagious strain that emerged there, the body that governs European football began to work in this new scenario that shakes the integrity of its competitions. Ten days ago, UEFA asked the affected clubs to start looking for alternative venues and set Tuesday as the deadline to communicate them, although Atlético has not yet done so until this Wednesday morning. Having to organize last season a final eight of the Champions League in Lisbon and another in four German cities of the Europa League already meant an economic trauma for the organization chaired by the Slovenian Alexander Ceferin, which has yet to decide whether the European Championship The highest grossing tournament will be played at the 12 planned venues.

The uncertainty generated by the evolution of the coronavirus has led UEFA to delay until April the final decision on whether the 2020 Eurocup will be held this summer at the 12 planned venues, including Bilbao. Initially, the solution was to be announced in March, but the European body has preferred to push the dates further. The profits made by UEFA in the last European Championship held in France in 2016 amounted to almost one billion euros. This competition is the manna with which UEFA fattens its coffers every four years and allows it to finance the development of football throughout the continent. Although last month the president of the organization, the Slovenian Alexander Ceferin, announced that for the moment the 12 venues were maintained, it will be the evolution of the pandemic that determines if there are changes that affect the venues and if the public will finally be able to attend. The option of Russia as the sole host has been considered in recent months. According to federative sources, the lower incidence of the pandemic, the high rate of vaccination and the infrastructures used for the celebration of the 2018 World Cup play in favor of Russia as the sole venue. Among the federations there is an urgency to know as soon as possible what to expect in order to organize the logistics of their base camps. Spain planned to establish him in Las Rozas if he finally plays in Bilbao. If not, he will seek accommodation abroad.