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UEFA Changes Venues for Champions League, Europa Because of COVID Travel Ban

With less than a week before the European action returns with the Champions League round of 16 up first, UEFA has changed a few venues for clubs participating in the Champions league and Europa because of extended travel bans between certain countries/locations in Europe - mainly England. 

Champions League: 

Atletico Madrid's home match against Chelsea in the Champions League last-16 has been moved from Spain to Romania in the wake of COVID pandemic restrictions. 

The first-leg tie will be staged at the Arena Nationala in the Romanian capital Bucharest on 23 February. 

The Spanish government recently extended a ban on arrivals by air from Britain, Brazil and South Africa until 2 March over new variants of Covid. 

Manchester City's first leg of their Champions League tie against German club Borussia Moenchengladbach will be played in Hungarian capital Budapest and Liverpool's match against RB Leipzig has also been relocated there.

The change in venue has been made because of travel restrictions on foreign nationals arriving in Germany which are due to remain in place until 17 February although they are expected to be extended. 

City will play their match on 24 February 2021 and the Liverpool/ RB Leipzig match will take place on 16 February. 

Europa League:

Because of a flight ban from the UK to Spain, English giants Manchester United's Europa League away leg at Real Sociedad has been moved from San Sebastian to Juventus' Allianz Stadium in Italy on 18 February but the return leg is still being played at Old Trafford. 

However, with Portugal on Britain's travel "red list", Arsenal's Europa League game with Benfica on 18 February has been moved to Italy, with the second leg switched from Emirates Stadium to Greece.

The first leg, which is Benfica’s 'home' fixture, will be played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome while the second leg will be played at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens on 25 February. 

In a statement, UEFA also confirmed that the first-leg match of the Europa League last 16 between Norwegian side Molde and German side Hoffenheim will be played in Spain.

The match is set to take place at Villarreal's Estadio de la Cerámica on 18 February because of pandemic restrictions and the subsequent entry regulations for Norway. The second leg will be played at Hoffenheim's home ground. 

The rest of the fixtures taking place in other regions will go ahead as planned in both the competitions, with no changes to venues or time. 

Europe's top club competition, Champions League and Europa were heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic last season.

This 2020-21 Champions League final will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on 29 May. Stadion Miejski w Gdańsku in Gdansk, Poland, will stage the 2021 UEFA Europa League final on 26 May.

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