The Champions League final on May 29 was moved from Istanbul to Porto. Manchester City and Chelsea will get 6,000 tickets each for their fans to attend the rescheduled match.
On Thursday, UEFA confirmed Porto’s “Dragao” Stadium as the chosen venue for the big match at the end of the month. Just like in 2020, the final was moved from Istanbul to Portugal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, UEFA held a “last 8” tournament in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital.
English Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin after the UK put Turkey on its travel “red list” because of the surge in COVID cases in that country. All parties involved agreed to work on a Wembley scenario.
In the end, London’s iconic stadium was left out of the discussion. UEFA asked for media representatives at the final, and for sponsors, and stakeholders to be excluded from the UK’s COVID protocols, but the English government wouldn’t agree to those requests.
The European Football Association wanted all those traveling to London for the final not to quarantine for 10 days. People coming from certain countries are forced to self-isolate right now. Portugal, which is on UK’s “green list,” accepted UEFA’s terms and was awarded the game.
UEFA: ‘Everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters could attend’
In a statement released on Thursday, UEFA defended its decision to move the final from Istanbul for the second year running.
“Staging the final there would have meant none of the clubs’ domestic fans would be able to travel to the game,” UEFA argued. “After a year of fans being locked out of stadiums, UEFA thought that everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the two finalist teams could attend.”
UEFA confirmed that plans to hold the final in England failed to materialize due to the country’s COVID protocols. “Despite exhaustive efforts on the part of the Football Association and the authorities, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements,” the European body revealed.
Portuguese authorities and the Football Association “worked quickly and seamlessly with UEFA to offer a fitting venue for the final and, as Portugal is a green-list destination for England, fans and players attending the final will not have to quarantine on their return home.”
Apart from the 12,000 City and Chelsea fans traveling to Porto, a few thousand additional fans will be allowed at Dragao. UEFA has yet to confirm the exact numbers, or how tickets will be distributed. Estadio Do Dragao, the stadium where FC Porto plays its home games, has a 50,000 seat capacity.
“To deprive supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found,” UEFA president Ceferin said. “I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans who travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football.”
City, firm favorites ahead of the final
The recently-crowned Premier League champions are regarded as the most probable winners of the Champions League trophy. City is at +106 to win in regulation time. A draw is at +240, while a Chelsea win is at +310. A simple bet on City to lift the trophy is at -200, with Chelsea at +175.
City’s Sergio Aguero is the favorite to score first in the game, at +510. In-form Ilkay Gundogan is at +650, with Raheen Sterling at +650. The first Chelsea player on the bookie’s ‘first scorer’ list is Tammy Abraham at +700.
There have been under 2.5 goals in Chelsea’s last seven Champions League games. A continuation of that streak is at -152. On the other hand, Manchester City scored at least two goals in their last seven matches. A similar performance in the final is at +123.