Published:21 October 2020
Europe's biggest clubs begin their search for the holy grail, the UEFA Champions League. The dignity and glory associated with the title remain unchanged, but in the light of the 'new standard' that the world faces, the competition has implemented some regulations.
Less than two months ago, Bayern Munich crowned champions of the continent. They didn't have too long to celebrate when, on Wednesday, they opened their title defence against Atletico Madrid. Not only has the late finish to last season decreased the difference with the new season, but it has also shortened the time between two ties in this campaign.
How is this season scheduled?
UEFA reports that on May 29 next year the season 'will be played out in its entirety, in its current (traditional) format with the Istanbul final.' Last season, the Turkish town was scheduled to host the showpiece game until the pandemic interfered.
So, is this going to be more hectic than ever?
The six rounds of group games beginning on Tuesday are expected to be over in eight weeks on December 9, i.e. The group stage last season, by comparison, ran for a week shy of three months. The 16th round will take place in February-March, with the quarterfinals in the first half of April and the semifinals in late April and early May respectively.
Would spectators be at the venues?
UEFA would allow fans 'at a maximum of 30 per cent capacity' at stadiums, but whether spectators are permitted depends on local administrations.
What is the minimum number of players listed by the new regulations?
With coronavirus cases on the rise in the world of football (with one of the game's biggest stars being victimised by Cristiano Ronaldo), UEFA has placed in place steps to ensure that its premier club competition will continue on time. When each team has at least 13 fit players, including a goalkeeper, matches will go ahead.
What if visitors are not allowed by the host city for a match?
If a host city has travel limits, a game can be played at the away venue, or even at a neutral venue.
What if there is a team that refuses to take to the pitch?
If a team declines to compete or is deemed liable for the match not taking place, they will be considered to have quit the game. Both will be disqualified if this happens to both the teams in question.
What if infections make the team incapable of playing?
If a team has players and officials who test positive for Covid-19 and, as a result, are unable to play the match before the UEFA deadline, they would be considered to have forfeited the game. Even if delays are possible, the group stage has to be completed by January 28 at the latest.
How many substitutes are permitted?
Same as the case with last season with 'Project Restart', five substitutions will be allowed in a match per side. When a knockout game goes into extra time, a sixth will be allowed. But there will be only three chances (four if there is extra time) to make substitutions. On the substitutes' bench, there can be a maximum of 12 players.