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UEFA, others ponder unique end to Champions League season

The Champions League Express has pulled into the station!

Liverpool FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

European football’s chief governing body — in tandem with the European Club Association and domestic leagues across the continent — could move to install an “express” single-match format in order to conclude this season’s Champions League.

AS broke the story Tuesday morning. As far as I can tell, it has not been picked up or corroborated by another outlet.

[The] working group...is considering a single-game format from the quarter-final stage, once the last-16 ties remaining to be played have taken place. The competition would then close with a final four tournament to be played in Istanbul. The format has the broad backing of the majority of the parties but will need final approval at UEFA’s executive committee meeting on 17 June.

Hmm. Interesting.

Atlético Madrid have already qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals following — in case you forgot — two incredible victories over winners-of-almost-everything Liverpool. UEFA are under serious pressure to finish this edition of Europe’s premier cup competition — coronavirus-based restrictions are being lifted, but players will go on holidays in September.

That means if the tournament were to restart on Aug. 8 (a Saturday!), each of the potential 11 games would have to be played across just 23 days. LaLiga’s season likely will not run much past July, so a team like Atlético could afford to focus on the one competition which it has never won. Diego Simeone’s players have only just returned to training, but after roughly six straight weeks of league games, we’ll have to see if fatigue becomes a factor once the domestic and continental formats gain enough approval.