UEFA Champions League: New Competition Structure

LISBON, PORTUGAL – AUGUST 18: The UEFA Champions League Trophy is seen pitch side prior to the UEFA Champions League Semi Final match between RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain F.C at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 18, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Michael Regan – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

On the 7th of August, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League returned for the first time in 5 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the competition did not return in its usual form. The Champions League had left off with the round of 16 unfinished in the second leg, so the final eight teams remaining would be decided during the first week of return. From that point forward, all other fixtures would be decided upon one game. This was a huge shift in the competition, as usually all playoff games (round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals) would be a two-leg (two-match/part) game.

Controversy proceeded the decision; the public’s reception was based upon how the teams performed as the competition progressed into the later rounds.

On the one hand, some claim that having only a single match wouldn’t be ideal for the teams to demonstrate their full potential. For example, a supporter of a team who lost merely by a 2-1 scoreline would be upset about there not being a second match as their team would have had a chance at overcoming the deficit.

The other side of the argument asserts that because one match decides the entire encounter, it raises the stakes for the competition and can lead to great football matches, as both teams give it their all to progress further closer to the final. This is best seen in matches such as Paris Saint-German (PSG) vs. Atalanta FC. The latter team had a one-goal lead for most of the game until PSG came back and scored two goals in the last five minutes, which gave them the final victory. Another example can be seen with the matchup between Barcelona FC and Bayern Munich, in which Bayern Munich won by a vast margin of 8-2. These types of football exhibitions are what many football fans crave and dream of when it comes to the big stage of European football, which is why many were quick to point out the unexpected benefits of the structural change. On the 23rd of August, the Champions League final was played between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-German, in which the German club came out victorious in a close 1-0 game.

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