Arsenal and Benfica Europa Lea...


Arsenal and Benfica Europa League tie could be played as one-off game

Phil Egan
Phil Egan

12:14 2 Feb 2021

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Arsenal's Europa League tie against Benfica could be played as a one-off game at a neutral venue under new rules issued by UEFA.

Arsenal and Benfica are due to play the first leg of their last 32 tie in Lisbon on February 18th, with the return leg at the Emirates a week later.

However, people travelling back to the UK from "red list" countries are expected to quarantine in a hotel for a period of 10 days, with no exemptions for elite athletes.

It remains to be seen if that would be enforced because all the major European football leagues have continued this season despite case numbers rising at various stages across the continent.

One option for UEFA is to play the match at a neutral venue because UEFA rules state that the governing body "has the right to assign an alternative venue for any particular match or even to decide that either or both legs of the relevant round to be rescheduled and/or played in a neutral country and/or organised as a single leg".

The rules also allow for ties to be reversed, which could have an impact on Liverpool's Champions League tie against RB Leipzig.

As things stand, flights to Germany from the UK are banned until February 17th, the day after the Premier League champions are scheduled to play Leipzig away from home.

The flight ban could yet be extended beyond that date but if not, UEFA could reverse the fixtures, which would mean Liverpool giving up home advantage for the second leg.

European competitions and World Cup qualifiers were always going to make things a bit more complicated amid the pandemic so UEFA could have different scenarios to deal with over the coming months.

UEFA staged the latter stages of last season's Champions League and Europa League in Portugal and Germany respectively with a series of one-off ties.

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Arsenal Benfica Champions League Covid-19 England Europa League Liverpool Portugal RB Leipzig Uk

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