Europa League 2019-20: 3 possible conclusions to the competition
- Here are 3 plausible ways to conclude this season's Europa League action amidst Covid-19.
- The most and the least optimistic scenarios are all dependent on the containment of the pandemic.
Like all major sporting events around the world, the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League is one of several football competitions affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.
This season's Europa League was at its round of 16 stage when it was deemed that the continuation of the competition, even behind closed doors with no spectators, would be detrimental to the health of players, officials, and volunteers.
The situation is almost without precedent in the world of football. Since the cancellation of the 1942 and 1946 FIFA World Cups due to World War II, there has been no prolonged suspension of football competitions for an indefinite period.
With countries imposing lockdowns and restricting movement of people in a bid to contain the epidemic, there is little possibility of resumption of any sporting action any time soon. On that note, let us have a look at 3 plausible conclusions to the current edition of the UEFA Europa League.
#1 Suspend the competition for the season
The round of 16 action in the Europa League commenced with first-leg matches in 6 of the 8 ties. Two ties involving Italian and Spanish clubs, two of the worst affected countries in Europe, did not go ahead. The worsening of the situation has forced the UEFA to indefinitely postpone the remaining fixtures in this season's competition.
If the pandemic doesn't ease off in the next 2 months, it is increasingly likely that this season would stand suspended and no winner is crowned. As harsh as it may sound for the clubs still in contention, under the present scenario, this possibility seems to be the most likely one.
#2 The competition ends the usual way, with round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final, and final
This is perhaps the most optimistic scenario and one which would suit all clubs still in contention for the title. It entails a situation where the pandemic eases off in 2 months, and action resumes not later than May 2020. With the postponement of Euro 2020, there is breathing space for staging the remaining fixtures of the competition which could still have its usual conclusion with double-legged round of 16, quarter-final, and semi-final fixtures followed by the final.
#3 Nations League styled semi-final and final
If the situation doesn't ease off by May 2020, there could be a massive fixture backlog for clubs. The UEFA may opt to emulate its Nations League format and seek to conclude the Europa League with a single-legged semi-final and final in the Polish city of Gdańsk, which is due to host this season's final.
Of course, this would still require the completion of the two-legged round of 16 and the 4 quarter-final fixtures. But, this option will bring down the number of matches and complete the season satisfactorily.