Thursday, August 06, 2020

The Europa League 2019-20 quarterfinals

During this past week I have enjoyed watching the Europa league last-16 fixtures that were seriously delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am in fact somewhat glad that football can provide a little relief in this my sixth month of lockdown, although I would love a pint in a pub while watching....
We now have the following EL quarterfinals:

  • Shakhtar Donetsk-Basel
  • Inter Milan-Bayer Leverkusen
  • Manchester United-FC Copenhagen
  • Wolverhampton-Sevilla
Both the Europa League and the Champions League will, due to the pandemic, take place as mini-tournaments over the next couple of weeks, in Germany and Portugal respectively. For fans (who will nevertheless be able to attend the matches), this will be a replacement for all the tournaments we have missed this summer, and maybe the format will be a success. More interesting will be whether these tournaments will lead to different outcomes than what would be expected from the more traditional format: teams focused completely on this and playing only one match, without spectators, after such long breaks. It would appear that this format will be more open for surprises, why it will be very interesting to follow!
UEFA appears to have taken strict measures regarding COVID-19. Beyond playing without fans, teams are completely isolated in their hotels (even from their management, which is perhaps only pleasant...), and players are routinely tested. But some measures appear more symbolic, such as not shaking hands before the match (appears redundant considering how close contact that players undergo during the match) or prohibiting the exchange of shirts after each match (after 90 minutes of close contact and the need to wash the shirts anyway, this appears redundant). 
In any case, someone recently told me that the virus spreads over a distance of 600 meters, which would make any measure redundant anyway, except for every human living in sealed bubbles 600 meters apart...

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