With the COVID-19 pandemic having postponed and canceled nearly all soccer leagues across the planet, decision makers have a tough task ahead of them. They must choose whether to restart their leagues in the coming months, scrap them and act as if 2019-20 never happened, or end the leagues with the current standings intact.
While some European leagues are looking to continue their competitions, such as Spain’s La Liga, others like France’s Ligue 1 have already announced their plans to not continue with the rest of the season.
In the case of the UEFA Champions League, the best solution to the dilemma would be to simply cancel the rest of the competition and look ahead to next season.
The last UEFA Champions League games that were played took place in early March, with half of the Round of 16 matches having had both legs completed. Four of the eight matchups, however, were unable to complete the second leg of draws.
That means that the Round of 16 would have to be completed, and the entirety of the two legs of quarter-finals and semi-finals matchups would have to be completed before two teams could even be decided for a theoretical final.
In total, five sets of games remain between a potential final, something that seems nearly impossible considering the current context of the sport.
Most European leagues that would be allowed to continue play will not be able to restart their leagues until early June at the earliest, meaning that the Champions League would be on a similar time table. These leagues will have to pack a lot of games into a short amount of time, requiring that at least two be played per week in most potential scenarios.
So, how would the Champions League even be able to fit into this potential scenario? It seems nearly impossible, and teams whose leagues do continue play would be at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to teams like Paris Saint-Germain, who won’t have domestic play to worry about.
While it might seem sacrilegious to end a Champions League campaign in his way, the circumstances resulting from the current global health crisis will make uncomfortable and unprecedented solutions necessary. Instead of putting players’ health at risk, both from a COVID-19 and a fitness perspective, the best solution is to simply write down this competition as a loss and look forward to starting anew in the fall.