Geneva (dpa) – No festive gala, no pictures of tormented smiling officials, for whom a “hammer lot” was just drawn in the fully occupied hall.
The draw for the group stage of the Champions League this Thursday (from 5 p.m.) will also be significantly influenced by the corona pandemic – like the entire season. The four Bundesliga teams around the defending champion and triple winner FC Bayern are not only threatened by tough group opponents this year, but also increasingly traveling to risk areas with an uncertain outcome.
“In fact, the legal requirements are still missing 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 the Champions League in a risk area on Wednesday, which is likely to be the case in more than half of the major cities involved, then the foundations should be in place so that we can then play in the Bundesliga again on Saturday.”
The European Football Union, which has moved its opening event for the new season from Athens to Switzerland behind closed doors, recently passed “specific provisions” for the group stage. However, these offer scope for interpretation.
The home club must propose an alternative venue as soon as the authorities of the visiting club’s country impose restrictions on travel to “or the return journey after the game”. However, this will probably only apply 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 regulations apply in the respective federal states for the Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach, BVB and RB Leipzig. The last international match period gave a foretaste, for example when Hertha BSC had to do without Poland’s Krzysztof Piatek for five days of quarantine, who was therefore unable to play in the first round of the DFB Cup. With regard to positive corona tests within the team, UEFA stipulates that at least 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 are in pot 1 on Thursday with six other champions such as Liverpool and Real Madrid as well as Europa League winners Sevilla FC. BVB was sorted into Pot 2 with Manchester City and FC Barcelona, among others, Leipzig (Pot 3) and Gladbach (Pot 4) have the toughest opponents.
Leipzig, for example, is threatened by a group with Real, Schachtjor Donezk and Stade Rennes – all of which are now based in risk areas. “Subject to the approval of UEFA, the clubs can in principle agree to an exchange of home rights or a neutral venue,” stipulates UEFA, which has also decided as a precautionary measure to extend the group stage until January 28 so that it can make up for canceled games.
If the group stage cannot be completed for “whatever reasons”, the UEFA Executive Committee will decide on the composition of the knockout round. The same rules apply to the Europa League.