FOOTBALL – Both the Europa League and Champions League 2nd leg semi-finals took place this week.
With two English teams in each of the semi-finals, there was every possibility both finals could have ended up “all English”.
Europa League semi-finals – the road to Gdańsk is almost here
Both second leg semi-finals took place this week on Thursday evening.
Despite a home win of 3-2 for Roma, it was not enough to counteract Manchester United´s 6-2 first leg win. Man U qualified for the final 5-8 on aggregate.
Arsenal v Villarreal finished with no goals for either side. This meant, Villarreal held onto their 2-1 victory and qualified for the final. The final will take place against Manchester United on May 26 at Stadion Energa Gdańsk
Champions League semi-finals
Manchester City had already qualified for their place in the final when they won 4-1 on aggregate on Tuesday. Real Madrid faced Chelsea on Wednesday. Chelsea won 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) meaning there will be one “all England” final.
However, this match is due to take place on May 29 in Istanbul.
UK traffic light system
The UK government today announced today the list of countries deemed safe to travel to once international travel is once again an option from May 17. However, surprisingly, Turkey was among the list of countries categorised as “red”. This means travel to Turkey must only be done in exceptional circumstances, and travellers would require having 3 PCR tests plus a mandatory 10-day stay at a government approved “quarantine hotel” at their own expense on return to the UK.
Very open to hosting the final
During the official announcement from the UK government, Grant Shapps said that fans should not travel to Turkey. As the final was due to be played in Istanbul, the FA are in talks with UEFA to see whether the location can be changed. Shapps continued to say as, of course, both teams in the final are from England, the preferred relocation would be within the UK. He also confirmed he has already spoken with the Secretary of State for culture, media and sport, and the UK are “very open to hosting the final”.
It was expected that each team would have a travelling support to Turkey of around 4,000 fans. Ticket sales have now been put on hold pending the decision from UEFA.
The ultimate decision is with UEFA
Should UEFA agree to move the final to the UK, Wembley Stadium is not an option as there are already matches being played there that weekend. However, Hampden Park may be a possibility, but as yet, the SFA have not been approached. The ultimate decision is with UEFA.