Champions League

Uefa group phase starts amid wrangling

2016-09-11 05:44
UEFA (Getty Images)

As 32 clubs prepare for the start of the Uefa Champions League group phase on Tuesday and Wednesday, they do so against the backdrop of an ugly European footballing storm brewing in the not-too-distant future.

The European Club Association (ECA) announced earlier this week that the Champions League would undergo some changes from the 2017/18 season. ECA chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described these as evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

Among the most contentious ones were the allocation of four guaranteed slots in the group phase to the four top European leagues (Spain, England, Italy and Germany) and a redistribution of income.

The latter would see the successful clubs generating even more money than they have been. Had the same formula been used this year, Real Madrid would have received €135 million (R2.1 billion) for winning the competition.

Rummenigge’s announcement received mixed reactions, with the head of the European Professional Football Leagues Lars-Christer Olsson saying: “UEFA has gone to bed with a limited number of clubs.”

He added that the new rules would turn the competition into a closed shop for superrich teams.

The Group of Death is undoubtedly Group C, where big-spending Manchester City and Barcelona are being challenged by Borussia Mönchengladbach and Scottish champions Celtic.

Having failed to win the Champions League during his stint with Bayern Munich, new City manager Pep Guardiola will be under pressure to deliver.

They begin their campaign against Mönchengladbach at home and will do so without four-time African Footballer of the Year Yaya Touré.

Making their first appearance in the competition are Premier League champions Leicester City, who were drawn into a group with Porto, Copenhagen and Club Brugge, whom they face in Belgium in their opening match.

The defending champions Madrid should have few difficulties in escaping Group F, where their major opponents are expected to be Borussia Dortmund.

The Germans travel to Poland for their clash against Legia Warsaw, while Real face Sporting Lisbon in the Bernabeau stadium.

Real’s city rivals Atlético have been drawn into a group with Bayern Munich. The Spaniards, who managed to hold onto highly-rated manager Diego Simeone, are away at PSV Eindhoven in their first game, while Bayern take on FC Rostov at home.

The other Bundesliga club involved in the competition, Bayer Leverkusen, have received a tough draw as they take on CSKA Moscow, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco, while former champions Juventus face Sevilla, Olympique Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, meanwhile, received a boost ahead of the Gunner’s match against Paris Saint-Germain, who will be without injured Ivorian defender Serge Aurier for the match in France.

The other two teams in the group, FC Basel and Bulgarian club Ludogorets, face each other in Switzerland.

The final group sees Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev and Turkish champions Besiktas in Group B. 

Read more on:    uefa champions league  |  soccer
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Fixtures
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Celtic v Bayern Munchen, Celtic Park 21:45
Sporting CP v Juventus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Qarabag, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
Manchester United v Benfica, Old Trafford 21:45
PSG v Anderlecht, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v CSKA Moskva, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Barcelona, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Chelsea, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Wednesday, 01 November 2017
Besiktas v Monaco, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Liverpool v Maribor, Anfield 21:45
Porto v RB Leipzig, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Sevilla v Spartak Moskva, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Feyenoord, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v APOEL, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Napoli v Manchester City, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid, Wembley Stadium 21:45
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Spartak Moskva v Maribor, Otkrytiye Arena 19:00
Besiktas v Porto, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Sevilla v Liverpool, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Manchester City v Feyenoord, Etihad Stadium 21:45
APOEL v Real Madrid, Neo GSP 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Monaco v RB Leipzig, Stade Louis II. 21:45
Napoli v Shakhtar Donetsk, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Qarabag v Chelsea, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 19:00
CSKA Moskva v Benfica, VEB Arena 19:00
Juventus v Barcelona, Allianz Stadium 21:45
Sporting CP v Olympiakos Piraeus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Roma, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
PSG v Celtic, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v Manchester United, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Anderlecht v Bayern Munchen, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 21:45
Tuesday, 05 December 2017
Bayern Munchen v PSG, Allianz-Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Sporting CP, Camp Nou 21:45
Celtic v Anderlecht, Celtic Park 21:45
Benfica v Basel, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 21:45
Manchester United v CSKA Moskva, Old Trafford 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Juventus, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Qarabag, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Chelsea v Atletico Madrid, Stamford Bridge 21:45
Wednesday, 06 December 2017
Liverpool v Spartak Moskva, Anfield 21:45
Porto v Monaco, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Maribor v Sevilla, Ljudski vrt 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
RB Leipzig v Besiktas, Red Bull Arena 21:45
Feyenoord v Napoli, Stadion Feijenoord 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v APOEL, Wembley Stadium 21:45
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