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It's like a mini Euros Balzaretti calls for yearly Champions League 'final eight'

5 months ago
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Former Juventus full-back Federico Balzaretti spoke to Stats Perform News about the Champions League's return via a reduced format.

Federico Balzaretti welcomed the introduction of an eight-team tournament in Lisbon for the return of this season's Champions League and called for the format to be an annual event on the football calendar.

There will be a condensed finish to the 2019-20 Champions League after the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champions League will be completed in Portugal's capital city in August – the quarter-final and semi-final ties to be just one-off matches as opposed to the traditional two legs.

Quarter-final matches will take place across four nights from August 12-15, with last-four games contested on August 18-19, and the showpiece to be held at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on August 23.

"This kind of match of competition, new competition for Champions League, just one direct match. Great surprise because in one match you can beat or lose against everyone," former Juventus full-back and Italy international Balzaretti told Stats Perform News.

"Also Atalanta, they could win against anyone in a single match. I'm waiting for a big, big surprise in this kind of Champions League and I'm happy about that.

"I think it's great to have a final eight every year. In one city, it's like a mini European Championship every year.

"Why not [every year]? I'm very curious about it. I think it's good. There's less matches and you create Euros every year, with big surprise.

"It could be interesting. Also because FIFA would like to introduce a World Cup for clubs every two years. So, with one competition and more matches, this is a question of money, eh?"

The outstanding last-16 games will be completed on August 7-8, though a decision has not yet been taken on whether they will be played at the home stadiums without fans or in Portugal. The Estadio do Dragao in Porto and the Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes will be added as venues if need be.

Juventus' last-16 clash with Lyon is one of the remaining ties after the Serie A champions lost 1-0 on the road in February prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Since then, the Ligue 1 campaign was cancelled and Paris Saint-Germain were crowned champions, much to the anger of Lyon.

Meanwhile, Serie A leaders Juve – eyeing their first Champions League title since 1996 after finishing runners-up in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015 and 2017 – are preparing to restart their season away to Bologna on Monday following Wednesday's Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli.

"I think for Lyon it will be very hard because they didn't play for six months," Balzaretti, who spent two years at Juve, said. "So this is incredible. You play your most important match of the year and after six months you haven't played.

"And Juventus, they'll play 14 matches for this game. It is a big advantage for sure. I think [Lyon president Jean-Michel] Aulas is not happy about that. It will be very difficult.

"Everything is possible of course. But it's a big advantage."

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