Champions League fixtures moved to Budapest amid journey restrictions

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on worldwide journey and whereas elite athletes had beforehand been exempt from restrictions in sure nations, that’s not the case.

The venue adjustments largely concern groups from the UK and Germany, with each nations just lately introducing rules that prohibit worldwide journey from nations deemed to be excessive danger.

Germany has included Britain on its excessive danger listing because of the new UK variant and worldwide journey into the nation is banned till February 17.

This implies the primary leg of Liverpool’s spherical of 16 Champions League tie towards RB Leipzig on February 16, which was set to be performed in Germany, has now been moved to the Puskas Enviornment in Budapest, as has the second leg of Manchester Metropolis’s conflict towards Borussia Monchengladbach on February 24.

The second leg of Arsenal’s Europa League tie towards Portuguese facet Benfica will now be performed in Athens as an alternative of London.

Portugal is one among 33 nations on the UK authorities’s “crimson listing,” which implies individuals touring to the UK from these nations should self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival. No exemptions have been made for elite athletes.

The primary leg of the tie has already been moved from Lisbon to Rome in consequence as results of Portugal’s journey restrictions geared toward stopping the unfold of Covid-19 variants.

The primary leg of all Champions League spherical of 16 matches can be performed this week and the return leg performed the week of March 9.

The Europe League spherical of 32 matches start this week with the second leg performed the week of February 25.

Liverpool in disaster?

Whereas the rearranging of fixtures has given golf equipment a logistical headache, some have considerations with points on the pitch.

Reigning Premier League champion Liverpool goes into Tuesday’s tie towards Leipzig with extra issues than most, coming off the again of three consecutive defeats which have seen its home title protection implode.

Jurgen Klopp reacts during Liverpool's defeat at Leicester on Saturday.

On Monday, captain Jordan Henderson laughed off rumors that there had been a bust up within the altering room following Saturday’s Three-1 defeat to Leicester and supervisor Jurgen Klopp swatted away any suggestion that he was in peril of shedding his job.

Leipzig can be a stern check for a Liverpool facet that has appeared stagnant in assault and porous defensively. The German facet, managed by one among Europe’s most extremely regarded coaches in Julian Nagelsmann, performs a fast-paced and high-pressing model of soccer that’s adequate to beat Europe’s largest golf equipment.

With Liverpool stumbling, this fixture affords Nagelsmann a great opportunity to additional improve his burgeoning popularity.

Arguably the most effective tie of the final 16 pits Barcelona towards Paris Saint-Germain, each of which have endured their fair proportion of ups and downs this season.

Nevertheless, followers can be denied to alternative to see PSG star Neymar return to Barcelona, the membership he left acrimoniously in 2017 for a document $263 million switch charge. The Brazilian ahead is predicted to be sidelined for not less than a month with a groin damage suffered in Wednesday’s French Cup conflict towards Caen.

Accidents have plagued Neymar’s time in Paris and have compelled him to overlook 1 / 4 of PSG’s Champions League matches since he joined the membership. The newest damage robs followers of probably the most intriguing subplot on this spherical of fixtures.

Neymar writhes in pain after suffering an injury during a French Cup match against Cean last week.

Barcelona return to successful methods

Opponents Barcelona seem to have turned a nook in latest weeks, successful its final seven La Liga matches to climb to 3rd within the desk and relieve a number of the strain on head coach Ronald Koeman.

The Dutchman joined Barcelona in the beginning of the season, however a stuttering begin put his place underneath intense scrutiny simply weeks into the job. It actually did not assist that Lionel Messi, the best participant in Barcelona’s star-studded historical past, make public his need to depart the membership earlier than the season had even began.

Messi has not received the Champions League since 2015 — when Neymar was enjoying alongside him — and plenty of consider Barcelona has wasted six of the Argentine’s peak years.

There was a tetchy backwards and forwards between PSG and Barcelona within the lead-up to the fixture, with rumors swirling that Messi may be part of fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, PSG’s newly appointed head coach, in Paris on the finish of the season.

These two sides served up one of many biggest Champions League ties in historical past again in 2017, when PSG crumbled and threw away a Four-Zero first-leg benefit by shedding to Barcelona 6-1 within the second leg. If the 2021 rematch affords even a fraction of the drama, it may very well be the sport of the season to this point.

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