BEVERLY HILLS, March 30, (THEWILL) – The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has announced that the home and away matches of the Champions League quarter-final tie between English Premier League side Chelsea and Portuguese Primeira Liga club Porto will be played at the home stadium of Spanish club Sevilla.
This comes as a consequence of COVID-19 regulations around travel restrictions.
Recently, to get a handle on infection rates, the Portuguese government tightened restrictions on players entering and leaving the country. This placed a severe restriction on the number of countries the Porto squad’s can travel to for football engagements.
As has been the case in other situations where COVID-19 regulations must be respected on a country-by-country basis, changes to match venues had to be effected to keep the UCL calendar on course and, therefore, the idea of playing both legs of the Chelsea-Porto games at a neutral venue was proposed.
The European football governing body have now confirmed via their official UEFA website that the two games will now take place at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Sevilla, Spain.
Unusually, the first leg will be Chelsea’s “away” fixture and will keep the April 7 date while the Blues will play the role of hosts six days later on April 13 for their “home” match. Although Thomas Tuchel will be making his first trip to Sevilla this season with Chelsea, it is by no means the first for the Blues for the 2020/2021 campaign as they had previously enjoyed a visit to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Under former manager and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, the men from Stamford Bridge took on Sevilla in Lampard’s penultimate UCL game in charge. In that encounter, the English manager secured one of the best results of his time at the Bridge, when they went home after a 4-0 trouncing of their hosts in a five-star display by French striker Olivier Giroud, who scored all four goals.
It was an excellent Giroud performance. He capped an exquisitely perfect hattrick, which included goals with his left foot, right foot, and his head, with a goal from penalty spot to seal an emphatic victory with an impeccable quadruple for the boys from London.
The double-legged Sevilla matches will be Tuchel’s second neutral venue experience this season in Europe. COVID-19 restrictions also forced the “away” fixture of the last-16 meeting with Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid to be contested in Romania, where another Giroud goal secured a crucial 1-0 triumph to qualify the club for this quarter-final stage.
They will have to be wary of the challenge posed by Porto, however. The Portuguese side may not be as illustrious as Atletico but they have demonstrated their determination to get results and their ironclad resilience in the last 16 stage with the elimination, over two legs, of Italian giants and Serie A champions Juventus, who boast of the services of the unrivalled King of the UCL himself, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Blues will have to do more than just avoid conceding, which they have shown themselves properly capable of doing, but also find the necessary goals that will allow them to scale through the Porto hurdle for a slot in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite football competition.