Arsenal left in limbo as embarrassed Uefa chiefs seek THIRD venue for Europa League second-leg tie with BenficaFebruary 10, 2021
EMBARRASSED Uefa chiefs are now seeking the THIRD venue for Arsenal’s Europa League second leg tie with Benfica.
Euro bosses announced that the first leg between the sides next Thursday would be moved from Lisbon to Rome because Portugal is on the UK 'red list' requiring ten days of hotel quarantine.
Arsenal then confirmed Uefa had agreed their 'home' leg on February 25 would instead be played at Olympiakos' Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, the port of Athens.
But within hours, Arsenal were forced to delete their statement after Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced an Athens-wide lockdown would come into effect immediately until the end of the month.
That will force Arsenal and Uefa to scramble to find another alternative host that will allow both clubs into the country for the tie.
The latest Euro venue farce comes after Uefa announced Chelsea’s Champions League away tie with Atletico Madrid will be played in Romania, at Bucharest’s Arena Nationala.
Spanish government Covid restrictions on travel from the UK meant that Thomas Tuchel’s squad were unable to fly to Madrid to play the La Liga leaders in the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico told Uefa that Bucharest was their preferred choice if a switch was necessary.
Diego Simeone’s side beat fellow Spaniards Athletic Bilbao there to win the 2012 Europa League.
The decision means that all of the three English clubs in the Champions League last 16 will play their 'away' legs on neutral territory.
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Both Liverpool and Manchester City will travel to Budapest’s Puskas Arena for their games against Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively
Manchester United’s Europa League last 32 first leg against Real Sociedad has been moved to Turin.
It means only Spurs – who meet Austrians Wolfsberger – and Leicester, who play Slavia Prague, will play their next European ties as originally scheduled.
However, apart from Arsenal, all the English teams will have home advantage for the return legs, although all those games will remain behind closed doors.
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