The latter stages of the Champions League 2019-20 are going to be played as a mini-tournament in Lisbon and could throw few surprises, according to former Brazil and Barcelona legend Rivaldo.
The flagship football tournament of Europe was stopped due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak in March but the play is going to restart on Friday with the first of the delayed ties of last-16.
The quarter-finals, which will be decided over one leg rather than the usual two, will begin in Lisbon next Wednesday when Atalanta take on Paris St Germain. Leipzig face Atletico Madrid the following day with the other two last-eight ties taking place next Friday and Saturday.
Champions League to Restart
"As we know, the Champions League is a very tough competition in which we normally can't determine who the favorites are due to each team's high qualities," said Rivaldo, an ambassador for British bookmaker Betfair. "Then if we add the special conditions of this season then it becomes even tougher.
"Teams arriving at the matches with different competitiveness levels matches without fans in the stands, single matches from quarter-finals, all this contributes to preventing me from seeing who the clear favorites are." Real Madrid face a tough task to reach the last eight as they try to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Manchester City on Friday while Barcelona and Juventus are by no means certain to be involved in the unique format.
Barcelona are 1-1 with Napoli ahead of Saturday's last 16, second-leg tie at the Nou Camp while Juventus host Olympique Lyonnais later on Friday trailing 0-1 from the first leg. Even if all the big guns make it through to the quarter-finals, the one-legged nature of the ties means there will be no margin for error, says Rivaldo who won the Champions League with Milan in 2003. "It will be a totally different environment this time," he said. "One bad day could send them out of the competition. There will be no second leg to correct potential setbacks."
(With agency inputs)