Geneva (dpa) – No festive gala, no photos of tormented smiling officials, for whom a “hammer party” has just been signed in the fully occupied hall.
The draw for the group stage of the Champions League next Thursday (from 5 p.m.) will – like the entire season – be strongly influenced by the corona pandemic. The four Bundesliga teams around the defending champion and three-time winner FC Bayern are not only threatened this year by tough group opponents, but are also increasingly moving to risk areas with an uncertain outcome.
“In fact, the legal requirements are still lacking to be able to play these games at all,” said Borussia Dortmund’s sports director Michael Zorc of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “If we compete in a risk area in the Champions League on Wednesday, which is likely to be the case in more than half of the major cities involved, then the fundamentals must be in place so that we can play in the Bundesliga again on Saturday.”
The European Football Association, which has moved its opening event for the new season behind closed doors from Athens to Switzerland, has recently adopted “specific provisions” for the group stage. However, these offer room for interpretation.
The home club must propose an alternative location as soon as the authorities in the country of the visiting club impose restrictions on travel to “or return after the game”. However, this only applies to strict travel bans – not to quarantine measures after return. The FC Bayern Supercup final against Sevilla FC in Budapest recently proved that exceptions are often made for football.
In Germany, different rules apply in the respective federal states for Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach, BVB and RB Leipzig. The last international period gave a foretaste, for example when Hertha BSC had to quarantine for five days without the Polish Krzysztof Piatek, who was therefore unable to play in the first round of the DFB Cup. With regard to positive corona tests within the team, UEFA prescribes that a minimum of 13 players must be available.
The Robert Koch Institute lists several countries of Champions League participants as risk areas, including Spain and large parts of France. Bayern will be in pot 1 on Thursday with six other champions, such as Liverpool and Real Madrid, as well as the winner of the Europa League, Sevilla FC. BVB was sorted into Pot 2 with Manchester City and FC Barcelona, among others, the toughest opponents await Leipzig (Pot 3) and Gladbach (Pot 4).
Leipzig, for example, is threatened by a group that includes Real, Schachtjor Donezk and Stade Rennes – all of which are now located in risk areas. “Subject to UEFA’s approval, the clubs can in principle agree to an exchange of house rights or a neutral playing field,” said UEFA, which has also decided as a precaution to extend the group stage until January 28 to catch up on canceled matches. .
If the group stage cannot be completed for “any reason”, the UEFA Executive Committee will decide the composition of the knockout round. The same rules apply to the Europa League.