Champions League: UEFA president considers ‘final eight’ format

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said the single-game knockout format, used in the Champions League this year from the quarter-final onwards, has produced more exciting football than the usual two-legged games and could be revisited in the future.

The format was changed in order to allow the competition to be completed in a shorter time-span after the COVID-19 pandemic halted play for several months across Europe in March.

Eight clubs headed to Lisbon and the final was won by Bayern Munich on Sunday against Paris St Germain.

“We were forced to do it but in the end we see that we found out something new. So we will think about it in the future for sure,” Ceferin told Reuters in an interview.

The UEFA president said without a second-leg to fall back on, teams have been forced to go for goals.

“(There has been) not so much tactics. If it is one match, if one team scores then the other has to score as soon as possible. If it is two legged system then there is still time to win the next match,” he said.

“More exciting matches for sure but of course we also have to think about the fact that we have less matches and broadcasters (can) say ‘you don’t have as many matches as before, this is different’ so we will have to discuss when this crazy situation ends.”

The “final eight” tournament took place without fans in stadiums and the prospect of supporters from eight clubs descending on one city could cause security issues among other logistical problems.

The current format is locked in place contractually until 2024/2025 but discussions are due to begin later this year on the structure for the competition for the next phase.

The tournament was played over 11 days and clearing space in the congested international calendar would be another obstacle to overcome but Ceferin is clearly intrigued by the possibilities.

“Look for sure it is a very interesting format. Now, I doubt as much as the calendar is now, that we could do a final eight (tournament), because it would take too much time. But a format with one match and a system like it is now, I think it would be much more exciting than the format that was before,” he said.

Reuters/NAN.

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