Déardaoin, Lúnasa 26, 2010

Thoughts on the Champions League Draw

All of these teams have played each other at some point in the past five years, and a solid dozen of the last sixteen can be easily predicted. The 'World's Biggest Club Tournament", is too fucking big and too fucking long. There is no novelty, and no spontaneity, just a giant bureaucratic orgasm designed to shovel money to the elite clubs and keep them entrenched at the top forever.

I know that the ship has long sailed, but I say reduce the entire field to fifty six teams; the fifty two national champions, the previous year's finalists, and then the runners-up from the top two, three, or four leagues as needed to pad the field out. Sixteen teams, (likely the champions and runners-up from the top twelve leagues) get a bye to the second round, the champions of countries 13-36 start in the first round, and the winners of the sixteen smallest leagues play an extra preliminary round to start things off. Seed the clubs in five pots of eight teams each for the preliminary and first rounds, and than four pots of eight teams each for the second round. After the second round place the remaining sixteen teams into four groups of four (seeded 1-4 again) with only the group winners advancing to the semifinals. Knockout from there of course, (with the final over two-legs instead of the somewhat arbitrary single game on neutral ground) and since there can be no more than two teams from even the biggest countries playing each other they could be kept apart unless both make the final.

The number of games that a big-league team would have to play to win the Champions League would be twelve instead of the current thirteen. The biggest beneficiaries would be teams from middle to low-middle leagues like Poland or Sweden who would now have to play only one extra round instead of three. And hell, even with modern economics making the gap between big and small bigger than ever, I'm sure that the likes of Partizan or Zilina could beat a Real or an Inter over two legs once every six years or so, and it would be fucking wild when they do. And if the barrristas in Wicker Park wearing Barca or Man U jerseys don't like it then good, fuck em.

One could go on and on about the benefits, the return of the Cup Winners Cup, the return of teams you've heard of to the Europa whatthefuckever, an actual summer break to the club football season, but again I do realize that it's all a hopeless dream. So for now I turn my sporting attention to American games and wait for the possibility of something interesting happening in Europe to rise with the spring.

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