UEFA mulling single-game eliminator format
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is reportedly considering retaining the single-game eliminator format that was introduced to complete the Champions League and Europa League seasons in the wake of pandemic disruptions.
Ceferin claims that he's been getting calls from people saying how “extremely excited” they were by the final eight format that replaced the conventional home-and-away two-legged quarter-finals and semi-finals system.
But the UEFA president stressed that any agenda related to the permanent change of formats will be tabled widely before any decision to that effect is taken.
Ceferin further added;
“It’s quite complicated to place a final eight in the calendar. But we saw that people want exciting matches, that in one match, every team can beat every team in Champions League or the Europa League.
So, it is something to consider for the future … I think in September or October, we have to start to seriously speak.”
He opined that without a second leg to fall back on, teams have been forced to go for goals which is what made the knock-out tournament in Lisbon so exciting.
“There has been not so much tactics” he added “If it is one match, if one team scores then the other has to score as soon as possible.”
With COVID-19 restrictions forcing all football to a grinding halt for a three-month period, this year's Champions League was concluded in a single venue – Lisbon, Portugal.
Gathering eight teams in Lisbon to conclude the Champions League appeared to be the only feasible option because no fans were allowed in the two stadiums as part of coronavirus restrictions, meaning the Portuguese authorities were spared the daunting task of dealing with rival factions gathering in the streets.
The practicability of the quarters, semis & final held in a single city over a week to create a Super Bowl-style buzz is gaining ground.
“You are in the centre of attention for a week of the whole world and this might be a fantastic thing, but we have to see,” Ceferin said. “The calendar is very complicated – players play almost 365 days per year. So, we have to see how we do it, if we do it.”
“But again, I think it’s an interesting format, which we didn’t think about before and now it’s somewhere here in our mind. So, we will start discussing about it when we meet up.”
UEFA has already been exploring how to change the Champions League format after 2024.
The final eight system came into play to complete the Europa League, too, with all the knock-out games staged in Cologne Germany, drawing praise from fans worldwide.
Another positive fallout in case this format were to be continued, is that broadcasters would ultimately be paying for less games.
The high-stakes format, combined with a World Cup summer tournament feel, has been praised for making matches more intense and exciting, with all matches played behind closed doors of course.
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