UEFA could scrap Champions League semi-finals for ‘football festival’

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UEFA could scrap the traditional two-man Champions League semi-finals, with momentum behind a proposed ‘week of football’ instead.

The current format, which sees the bottom four teams play each other home and away, has been in place since 1955 but could change as Europe’s governing body plans sweeping changes for the tournament. At the start of the 2024/25 season, the updated Champions League format is set to launch, which will likely feature group matches of six to 10, with additional teams qualifying for the competition.

The temperature report that although the European Club Association (ECA) has yet to make a decision, there is growing support for the knockout stages from the semi-finals onwards, with both matches and the final taking place in a host city, resembling a football festival in a concentrated area.

It would closely resemble the conclusion of the Nations League competition and eliminate the possibility of second legs like the thrilling encounter between Manchester City and Real Madrid, which is delicately balanced at 4-3 on Tuesday night.

The Premier League and LaLiga champions faced off in Manchester in a match for the ages, with the second leg at the Bernabeu promising to be one of the most highly anticipated Champions League fixtures of recent years. Instead, UEFA are said to believe that one-legged knockout matches, as seen in the Covid-affected 2020 tournament, add further peril and excitement.

The report claims that while some UEFA figures are reluctant to make such a huge change, chairman Aleksander Ceferin has previously hinted that he would be open to the idea of ​​a week of football.

“If you look at the Super Bowl, it’s a great event and they do it in a great way, they have concerts and people go there and have fun,” Ceferin told The Times last year. “Even if you lose those two games, you can get more income to compensate.

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Paris Saint-Germain president and ECA chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi is a fan of Champions League innovation

“It could be a fantastic event for the broadcasters, for the sponsors. In the same week you could have the Women’s Champions League final or youth competitions, you could really have a week of fantastic football. Those games at Knockout are different and more exciting.

Any changes would be introduced with the new format in two years time, meaning the final at Wembley in 2024 would be the last contested under the traditional format.

ECA chairman and Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is a strong proponent of the ‘last four’ format and has publicly advocated sweeping changes to deliver a spectacle more reminiscent of the showpiece event of the NFL.

“The Super Bowl, and the United States in general, has this spirit, this creativity and this fun,” he said. athleticism. “That’s what I suggested, having a Champions League opening ceremony, having a game on opening night where the winners go against a big team – maybe that’s not a good idea, but at least let’s challenge the status quo. Every game should be an event and entertainment.”

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