German club expect UEFA clash with Russian rivals to be scrapped

RB Leipzig claimed that UEFA is close to canceling its Europa League games against Spartak Moscow

UEFA is close to kicking Spartak Moscow out of the Europa League, according to upcoming opponent RB Leipzig.

The German club are set to face Spartak at home in the last 16 first leg on March 10, and then at a neutral venue for the return leg a week later following a UEFA ruling that saw all Russian teams ordered to play out of their homeland amid a military operation in Ukraine.

Through CEO Oliver Mintzlaff, Leipzig revealed that they continue “to be in close contact with the associations” and has “complete confidence in UEFA and their decision.”

“We assume that the games will be canceled,” Mintzlaff added.

Discussions are said to revolve around whether the Germans, who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2020, will get an automatic bye through to the Europa League quarter-finals or will have to face another reinstated outfit that has already been knocked out.  

Such decisions would effectively expel Spartak from the competition after the Russians topped Group C which also contained Napoli, Leicester City, and Legia Warsaw. 

Second-placed Napoli lost 5-3 on aggregate to FC Barcelona in a play-off following a heavy 4-2 loss in Naples last week, and could be a possible candidate to face Leipzig.

Oliver Mintzlaff äußert sich zum aktuellen Stand bzgl. der Europa-League-Spiele gg. Spartak Moskau:
„Wir stehen weiterhin in einem engen Austausch mit den Verbänden & haben vollstes Vertrauen in die UEFA & ihre Entscheidung. Wir gehen davon aus, dass die Spiele abgesagt werden.“ pic.twitter.com/4XfQOVWGZ3

— RB Leipzig (@RBLeipzig) February 28, 2022

Bild in Germany have also reported that UEFA, who moved the Champions League final on May 28 from St. Petersburg to Paris as part of their ruling on Friday, are ready to throw Spartak out of the tournament.

But this is something that Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco will perhaps not agree with. Tedesco managed Spartak Moscow before leaving his position last year.  

“We are waiting for more information. It’s clear that I would have liked a different framework for these games,” Tedesco said after his team beat Bochum 1-0 away at the weekend. 

“The current situation is bad…war is absolutely no solution in any situation.

“History shows that it always hits the wrong people, first and foremost the athletes and the fans,” Tedesco added. 

Before this earlier last week, Leipzig striker Yussuf Poulsen stressed that “UEFA is the decision-maker” and that the power is out of the player’s hands.

“If UEFA decides nothing other than that we should play on neutral ground, then that’s the way it is. We can’t do anything there, then we have to play the game,” said the Dane.

Elsewhere, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have refused to play against Russia in a World Cup qualifying semi-final and potential final in Moscow on March 24 and March 29.

FIFA has thus far resisted an outright ban on Russia, but ordered it to play on neutral turf, without fans and under a ‘Football Union of Russia’ banner while their flag and national anthem cannot be used.

Spartak’s Europa League fate is expected to be known later on Monday by some, but Russian media outlet Match TV has insisted that a source has told them UEFA’s stance has not changed yet and no official decisions have been made or announced to either the Russian club or Leipzig.

Match TV say that UEFA’s Executive Committee is on standby, with UEFA awaiting the holding of meetings where decisions can be made to reassess the legal frameworks and facts of the situation as it develops.

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