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Champions League To Be Completed In Final 8 In Lisbon, Final On August 23

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The 2019-2020 Champions League, suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be completed in a ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon in August, UEFA said on Wednesday.

Europe’s top club competition will be decided by a series of one-off matches beginning in the Portuguese capital on August 12, with the final on August 23, European football’s governing body confirmed.

Similarly, the Europa League will be completed with a ‘Final Eight’ across four German cities including Cologne, with the final there on August 21. The closing stages of the women’s Champions League will go ahead in Bilbao and San Sebastian at the end of that month.

The men’s Champions League final was initially due to be played in Istanbul at the end of May before the Covid-19 crisis took hold. The Turkish city will now host the 2021 final instead.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals are usually held over two legs, home and away, but will now be played as single ties, with games in the last eight on August 12 to 15 and the semi-finals on August 18 and 19.

UEFA said all matches would be split between Benfica’s Estadio da Luz home, and the nearby Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting.

The 65,000-capacity Estadio da Luz hosted the final of Euro 2004 and the Champions League in 2014, while Sporting’s 50,000-seater stadium was also used at Euro 2004 and for the UEFA Cup final in 2005.

Portugal’s credentials to host a Champions League mini-tournament were boosted by the fact that it has not been as badly hit by the pandemic as other western European countries, and it has no clubs left in the competition.

The Portuguese top flight resumed at the start of this month, with matches being played behind closed doors.

With the European death toll from the coronavirus easing and numerous EU countries this week opening their borders once again to visitors, there is some hope that matches can be played in front of crowds.

However, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said no decision would be made on whether to let spectators in “until mid-July”.

“If I would answer today then we don’t think we could have spectators but things are changing rapidly,” Ceferin said in a videoconference.

“We don’t know if (it would be) only the local fans, if no fans, or even if fans from different clubs could travel.

“As it looks now, we would decide that we would play without fans but we have to wait because the siutation is changing every day.”

Before getting to the quarter-final stages, there are still four Champions League last 16, second legs to be completed, and it is possible those games could also be moved to Portugal.

“A decision is pending on whether the four remaining round of 16 second legs will take place at the home team’s stadium or in Portugal,” a UEFA statement said.

If needed, the games will be played in the northern Portuguese cities of Porto and Guimaraes.

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Why I want To Fight Fury Before My Career Ends -Anthony Joshua

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British boxer Anthony Joshua celebrates after winning the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019.

Anthony Joshua has said he needs a fight against Tyson Fury “on my record” before his career is finished because boxing as a whole required at least one bout between the two British heavyweights.

Between them, the two boxers currently hold all the major versions of the heavyweight world title.

Talks of a unification ‘superfight’, which went on for months, appeared to be on the brink of ending in an agreement earlier this year only for a United States arbitrator to rule Fury had to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time.

As a result Fury, having previously drawn with and then stopped Wilder, is set to make the maiden defence of his World Boxing Council (WBC) belt against the American in Las Vegas next month.

Before then, Joshua is set to face World Boxing Organization (WBO) mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk in London on September 25, with a crowd of some 60,000 expected at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the home of the Premier League club.

But Joshua, also the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion, knows that a fight against Fury is the contest boxing fans want to see and that a question mark will hang over his career if he does not face the ‘Gypsy King’.

“Do I need Tyson Fury on my record? I need it,” Joshua told the BBC 5 Live boxing podcast.

“We need it for boxing. It’s what we all need, I need it. Come on, let’s see how good I am.

“Fight good fighters and they bring out the best of you. Training camp is hard. To get better is very difficult in boxing. To fight Tyson Fury is a big challenge.”

Joshua added: “Let’s see how far I can take myself during this period. It’ll be a good challenge mentally. Not about him, but because I actually want to do well.

“When I wake up in the morning early and I’m tired, my body’s battered, I still go out and do what I do. It’s great rewards and only someone like Fury can give that to me.”

AFP

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Arsenal Sign Ben White From Brighton

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Arsenal have signed Ben White from Brighton and Hove Albion on a long-term contract, the club announced on their website on Friday.

The 23-year-old defender joins the Premier League side after spending the summer with the Three Lions of England at the Euro 2020.

He had spent the 2019/2020 season on loan with Championship-winning side, Leeds United, who are now promoted to the Premier League.

Speaking about the player, Arsenal’s Technical Director Edu said, “Ben has been a key target this summer. He has so many qualities which make us so excited he’s joining us. Ben’s a young English player with a great future. He’s very strong defensively, good on the ball with a great passing range. We’re delighted Ben’s signed and we look forward to him growing with us.”

Manager Mikel Arteta said, “Ben was a top target for us and it’s great that we’ve completed his signing. Ben has been educated with two very good clubs, Brighton and Leeds, in recent seasons. He has benefitted well from two very good coaching set-ups and has shown with both Brighton and on loan with Leeds what a strong talent he is.

“Ben is an intelligent defender who is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and his style fits perfectly with us. And of course, he is still young, so his age and profile fit with what we are building here. We are all looking forward to Ben being central to our future long-term plans.”

The defender has been handed the No. four shirt and will be part of the Arsenal squad to face Chelsea in The Mind Series friendly match at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday.

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Guinea Withdraws from Olympics ‘Over Covid-19’

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