The Red Devils made it through to the semi-finals last season only to be beaten by eventual winners Sevilla, and are among the favorites to win the trophy again come May, but Sociedad will likely provide a stern test of their credentials.
The clash means that, if fit, Neymar will return to Camp Nou. The last time these teams met in the competition produced one of the most memorable matches in Champions League history as Barca — inspired by Neymar — won the round-of-16 second-leg clash 6-1 to recover from a 4-0 first-leg defeat. Neymar left in the summer of 2017, and this will be his first return.
Cristiano Ronaldo will make a return to Portugal as Juventus were drawn with Porto — a side he has mixed memories of playing against in the competition.
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Where does Sevilla FC play? The club’s home ground is the 43,883-seat Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium. It is located in the neighborhood of Nervión, Seville, and owes its name to Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan, who was Sevilla FC’s president for 17 years.
The La Liga fixtures for the 2020-21 Spanish football season has been confirmed less than a fortnight before the competition gets underway.
The league season will get underway on the weekend of 12-13 September with the final round of fixtures to be concluded on 23 May, ahead of the scheduled European Championships next summer.
There are a number of caveats involved though with not every team in Spain’s top-flight beginning that early due to staggered end dates for the 2019/20 season.
Spain’s La Liga became the third major league this week to announce plans to restart its season. Previously we had heard from the Premier League and Serie A and all eyes turned to Spain where La Liga announced football will resume on June 11 after a three-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic with the local derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, the government’s department for sport (CSD) said in a statement on Friday.
“At a meeting of the contact group they form alongside the CSD, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) and La Liga have agreed to the format of the final 11 rounds of fixtures of La Liga and the second division,” said the CSD’s statement.
La Liga can resume behind closed doors from 8 June, says Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. La Liga president Javier Tebas also stated the league will work with clubs in the coming days, to establish an exact return date, likely to be from June 12.
La Liga players this week started training in groups of no more than 10.
“Spain has done what it should and now new horizons are opening for everyone. The time has come to bring back many day-to-day activities,” said Sanchez.
“From 8 June, La Liga will be back. Spanish football has a huge following but it will not be the only recreational activity that will return.”
La Liga president Javier Tebas hopes Spain’s top flight will restart on 12 June and says coronavirus tests will mean “practically zero” risk to players during games.
The league said on Sunday that five players had tested positive for the virus across Spain’s top two divisions. La Liga started testing players last week as it plans to resume training and play matches behind closed doors.
“I’d like it [the restart date] to be 12 June,” Tebas told Movistar.
“But we have to be careful. It will depend on many factors such as a potential rise in infections, factors which don’t depend on football but on Spanish society.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s announcement that sport in the country will not be allowed to resume before summer effectively ends the season, but Tebas warned football could disappear if it failed to restart.
He said: ‘I do not understand why there would be more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line or being on a fishing boat on the high seas.
Spain’s health minister has said that Spaniards should not expect to see professional football restart before the summer.
Spain has been without football since March 12, two days before the nation went into a strict lockdown under a state of emergency to battle its coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 22,000 lives.
‘It would be reckless for me to say now that professional football will be back before the summer,’ Salvador Illa said on Sunday.
‘We will continue to monitor the evolution (of the virus) and the guidelines we will present will indicate how different activities can return to a new normalcy.’
La Liga president Javier Tebas has reportedly told clubs they may be fined if they do not show up to play matches after the coronavirus pandemic.
The football calendar has been put on hold in Spain, but there is hope that it may resume in the coming months to see out the rest of the 2019/20 season.
Unsurprisingly, there are some concerns about returning too soon.
But Tebas has issued a very stern warning to clubs who opt against getting back into training and playing matches once again.