The four-star changes of the Champions League
The novelty of the new changes made by UEFA in the current Champions League Edition surprised everyone. In fact, it will be a kind of revolution in the most important European Football Championship.
The separation of timetables into two rounds or the possibility of a fourth player change in the case of an extra time period will make a difference in the competition, which will not use VAR until next season.
The new timetables
One of the most remarkable changes in the 2018-2019 football season, which is sponsored by the Santander Bank and will rely on the presence of star football player Ronaldo as an Ambassador, is the timetable of the football games. The known timetable “20:45 Spanish time zone” disappears to give way to two new timetables. This way, football games will be played at the hours of 18:55 and 21:00. In fact, the goal is to get more income by selling television rights. Until now, the timetable was fixed for all games but certain ones were moved earlier because they were played in Eastern European countries such as Russia or Belarus, where season and climate can be a variable factor. Thanks to the new timetable, Asian and Australian audiences will be included, an important point because their interest in European football is rapidly increasing.
Champions League audiences are in great demand and the continental organization wants to rise to meet this. The most recent final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, in which the team in white triumphed for a third consecutive time, was broadcasted to an audience of 350 million people. More than 1,800 media workers were accredited with being there, including 550 journalists, 130 sports commentators and 170 photographers. The organization hopes to increase the number of followers by making such changes.
An extra player in extra time
Another novelty of this Champions League Edition is the possibility of a fourth player change during extra time. With the recent World Cup in Russia as a reference, UEFA confirmed on July 5th, 2018 that the new rule would come into force. During extra time, every team can make an additional fourth change, one more than usual. A team which made two changes during the 90-minute game can now make two more changes in the case of extra time. This novelty was already applied in the European Super Cup held in Tallinn between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, although the new rule could not be applied as the game ended before it could reach extra time.
Four games went into extra time during the Russian World Championship and all of them took advantage of this new possibility.
The new rules affect the number of substitutes. Up to 7 football players can be on the bench in every round up to the semi-finals. This number increased to 12 players in the final.
VAR’s big question
Will the next edition of the Champions League include VAR? This is one of the changes that UEFA has confirmed for the 2019-2020 football season. This technology is already implemented in most of the important leagues, overcoming the challenge of the last Russian World Championship. Despite that the continental organization is in favour of including it, until now there have been obstacles which impede the application of such technology from the group phase, such as the lack of referees experienced in VAR and the conditions of some stadiums.
Currently, eight European Leagues already use VAR: Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Turkey. However, it is not the case of the Premier League, which is considered the best domestic championship in the world.
The World Cup precedent
After having been applied in Germany and Italy throughout the year, VAR passed successfully its test during the last World Championship held in Russia. The video assistant referee was used in 440 plays during the World Championship, of which 335 were in the first phase. Most of these interventions helped contrast referees decisions, such as goals, and they had no incidence in the game. During the first phase, referees who monitored the game on their TV screens acted on 18 occasions to get a solution. The most surprising action was to cancel a penalty in favour of the Brazilian player Neymar Junior against Costa Rica. The referee whistled for a penalty and VAR overrode it.
During the next phases, the technology helped review goals and even had a key role in the final, a moment for the World Cup record books. The referee asked for help because of a possible penalty against Croatia due to a Perisic handball and the video removed all doubt from what had happened. Finally, the penalty was given and scored by Griezmann. Could it happen again in the next final of the Champions League?