MILAN (Reuters) – European soccer clubs could lose an estimated 5.2-6.3 billion euros (4.72-5.73 billion pounds) in revenues due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, European Club Association Chairman Andrea Agnelli said on Thursday.
Finances at soccer clubs across the region have been stretched as the health emergency forced authorities to suspend matches or limit spectator numbers once championships had restarted.
"Without competitions we don't have access to certain items in our economic accounts and without these the system becomes unsustainable," Agnelli, who also serves as the Juventus chairman, told a shareholder meeting of the Italian Serie A club.
"We will only be able to assess the impact of this situation in its entirety in the autumn of 2021."
Agnelli said the forecast included stadium losses, the impact the emergency had on medium-to-long-term commercial agreements and TV rights contracts that had to be renegotiated.
($1 = 0.8546 euros)
(Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Toby Davis)
Real Madrid left shellshocked by depleted Shakhtar
MADRID (Reuters) – Shakhtar Donetsk pulled off a shock 3-2 win away to 13-times winners Real Madrid in their Champions League Group B opener on Wednesday, despite the Ukrainian side missing 10 players due to injuries and COVID-19.
Shakhtar raced into a 3-0 lead after a whirlwind first half with a strike from Brazilian midfielder Tete in the 29th minute, an own goal from Madrid defender Raphael Varane four minutes later and a well-taken effort from Israeli forward Manor Solomon.
Luka Modric pulled one back for Zinedine Zidane's shellshocked side with a brilliant strike from distance early in the second half before substitute Vinicius Jr reduced the deficit to one goal.
Federico Valverde thought he had equalised in added time with a heavily deflected shot but the goal was ruled out for offside as Vinicius was blocking the vision of goalkeeper Anatoly Trubin and the depleted visitors celebrated one of their most memorable victories in European competition.
La Liga champions Madrid, meanwhile, reflected on a second consecutive home defeat after losing 1-0 at their Alfredo di Stefano stadium to promoted Cadiz on Saturday, further denting their confidence ahead of the 'Clasico' at Barcelona in three days' time.
"In the first half we were not worthy of this competition," said Madrid midfielder Modric.
"It's obvious we need to improve, we lacked confidence today, especially in the first half, but we have to move on, we can't waste any time regretting what has happened."
Coach Zidane had insisted ahead of the game that he was not looking to the trip to Barca's Camp Nou but rested several big names against Shakhtar, choosing not to risk captain Sergio Ramos and starting without Toni Kroos and attacking talisman Karim Benzema.
NUMEROUS COVID CASES
Shakhtar's Portuguese coach Luis Castro meanwhile had described the numerous positive COVID-19 cases affecting his staff and squad as a "nightmare" but watched on in admiration as his players out-witted and out-ran their more illustrious opponents.
Viktor Korniienko zig-zagged his way through Madrid's defence to lay the ball off for Tete to slot past an outstretched Thibaut Courtois for the opening goal.
Courtois did manage to parry a shot moments later but team mate Varane stabbed the loose ball into his own net, committing his latest Champions League howler after gifting Manchester City two goals in last season's last-16 tie.
Zidane turned to Benzema immediately after the interval and Vinicius soon after and his side finally showed some character and moved to within one goal of levelling the match.
They looked to have found it through Valverde's deflected shot, which trickled into the net but Shakhtar, who had spurned two glorious earlier chances to put the game out of Madrid's reach, were spared.
"I think Madrid underestimated us but we showed our football and our style," said Shakhtar's Korniienko.
Coach Castro added: "We were a united team from the first until the last minute. When the score was 3-2 we had to defend even more and I thought 'Oh, let this game end as soon as possible'. It's a great result for us."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)
Salzburg let Lokomotiv off the hook in 2-2 draw
SALZBURG, Austria (Reuters) – Salzburg let Lokomotiv Moscow off the hook when they were held to an entertaining 2-2 draw at home by the Russian side in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Austrian champions were leading 2-1 and completely in control only to be pegged back by an equaliser from substitute Vitali Lisakovich, who scored six minutes into his Champions League debut in the Group A game.
Portugal forward Eder, scorer of the winning goal in the Euro 2016 final against France, gave Lokomotiv the lead in the 19th minute with a header into the corner after Rifat Zhemaletdinov nodded on a corner at the near post.
The hosts turned the game around with two goals either side of halftime. Dominik Szoboszlai curled in the equaliser in the 45th minute and veteran Zlatko Junuzovic scored with a deflected shot after Patson Dako laid the ball back to him seven minutes after the restart.
Sekou Koita hit the post for Salzburg but they were caught after losing possession on the edge of their own area and Lisakovich levelled with a 75th minute header which bounced between goalkeeper Cican Stankovic and his near post.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Zidane worried by Madrid's drop in confidence after Shakhtar shocker
MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said his side looked short on confidence in their shock 3-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League group-stage opener on Wednesday but shouldered the blame for his side's slide in form.
Shakhtar were without 10 players due to a combination of COVID-19 positives and injuries but blew the 13-times European champions away in the first half, taking a 3-0 lead and missing more chances to add to the scoreline.
Real responded with goals from Luka Modric and Vinicius Jr after the break and had a last-gasp goal ruled out for offside but Zidane did not hide from the fact his side had been outplayed by their depleted opponents.
"We were lacking a bit of everything today but worst of all we were lacking confidence," Zidane told a news conference.
"It's difficult to think of what to say when you concede three goals in the first half. We made a mistake with their first goal and from then on it was very difficult.
"I'm left with a very bad feeling because of everything that happened tonight. It's a bad game, a bad night but I'm the coach and I'm the one who has to find solutions. I didn't find them tonight and it's a very difficult moment for the players."
Madrid were also beaten in their last league outing to Cadiz and have to pick themselves up for Saturday's La Liga showdown at Barcelona, but Zidane did not think the twin defeats meant they could be in for a drubbing against their rivals.
"I have nothing to say to that, we're going to turn up there on Saturday and we're going to be prepared. This is a negative night for us but we have to change things," added Zidane, who has won three Champions League crowns with Real and guided them to the Spanish title last season.
"I feel awful for the players, who have won so many things for me and don't deserve this. But this is football, one day everything is grey and the next the sun comes out. Sometimes it's very difficult and tonight is one of those times."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)
Liverpool ride luck as own goal secures win at Ajax
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Liverpool beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 away with a fortunate own goal in their Champions League group-stage opener on Wednesday, riding their luck at times but still showing their title credentials.
Ajax fullback Nicolas Tagliafico turned the ball into his own net in the 35th minute to ensure a winning start in Group D for the English champions, who looked the stronger of the two teams despite Ajax creating several good chances at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Davy Klaassen struck the post with a powerful shot and Quincy Promes had a point-blank effort stopped by the legs of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian as the Dutch club created a handful of excellent opportunities.
Yet Liverpool, who won their sixth Champions League title in 2019, still proved value for their victory, dominating possession and counter attacking at pace while keeping a clean sheet despite missing defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a serious knee injury at the weekend.
Fabinho moved from midfield to centre defence to replace Van Dijk and had an outstanding game, notably hooking a clearance off the line to deny Dusan Tadic just before halftime.
It was one of several chances for Ajax in the first half, as Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian and Ryan Gravenberch shot narrowly wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who spent the early part of the game berating and shouting instructions to his players.
But his agitation was quelled when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defence with a swift body movement to set up the goal. He miskicked his own effort, but it caught Tagliafico as he clumsily tried to clear, but instead deflected it into the Ajax net.
"It was a good enough performance to win the game, which at moments was pretty wild. It was not one of our sunny shiny world class football days. It was not perfect but the boys fought like crazy," said a more satisfied Liverpool manager afterwards.
Klopp took off Mane and his strike partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes still left, but replacements Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino kept up the pressure on the home team.
Ajax should have equalised, however, four minutes into stoppage time when Adrian did not properly deal with a cross into the area but substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp missed the target.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)
La Liga 2020
|18||FSV Mainz 05||5||0||0||5||0|
|2||Paris Saint Germain||8||6||0||2||18|
|14||Stade Brestois 29||8||3||0||5||9|