With Arsenal scheduled to play Benfica in Portugal in just 9 days time, and with coronavirus restrictions making it logistically impossible for the Gunners to fulfil the fixture, EUFA have left it a bit late to change the original detailed plans.
UEFA have already changed its regulations for the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League to cover these problems. They say that if restrictions imposed in a country could result in a match not taking place, “the home club must propose a suitable alternative venue, which may be in a neutral country”.
However, if the host club fails to do that and it is not possible to play the game at another venue or on a different date, Uefa says it will deem the match to have been forfeited, with the home side losing 3-0.
So the onus has been on Benfica to arrange the first leg, and it is now being reported in the Standard that after talks between UEFA the game is now expected to go ahead in Rome, with official confirmation expected in the next 24 hours.
The return leg at the Emirates is supposed to be played just a week later, and it is quite possible that this game could also be relocated to Rome, which would seem a bit strange. And as Dan asked a few weeks ago, what happens with the “away goal rule”? Or wouldn’t it be better to play the match as a one-off knockout match?