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, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
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