It’s difficult to find a lot of positives that have come out of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but one bright shining light was the UEFA Champions League knockout stages in Lisbon, Portugal. Considering that most people believed that CL wouldn’t even continue when all the major competitive leagues in Europe suspended their seasons, but UEFA managed to pull of a very entertaining tournament finally, and for the benefit of football fans all over the world, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin needs to consider single game knockout stages in the post-COVID-19 world.
I am 1000% confident if Lyon and Manchester City had to play two legs, you would have seen City use their class and throw their weight around in a returning leg against Lyon, and could easily erase the 3-1 goal differential, but there wasn’t two legs, it was a single game, and the second best English team lost to the seventh best French team. Any team can win on any given day made the short two weeks in Lisbon very entertaining.
Normally during Champions League, you’ll see teams play with a little bit of caution, knowing they have two legs to secure victory, teams sometimes will close down the game, play tight, and win the marathon. A one game knockout opened up the games, and it felt like everybody was going for it every game. Even the 1-0 final versus Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain was wide open, three big Manuel Neuer saves, a Robert Lewandowski post, a Neymar miss, a Coman miss, and three missed penalty calls by Italian referee Daniele Orsato, was the difference between a 1-0 game and a 4-4 game headed to extra time and penalties.
It takes forever for football bodies to make changes, but the UEFA brass had to be watching the show in Lisbon and realizing how special it was, how good the football was, and how they could build off this tournament. It was electric, energetic, exciting football right through 90 minutes every single game, and even though the favorites walked away with the trophy, there were a lot of unexpected storylines, and a version of a single game knockout rounds would make the greatest football tournament in the world, that much better.