Champions League could be set for major group stage overhaul from 2024

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UEFA are said to favour a ‘Swiss system’ as they discuss a revamp of the current Champions League format from 2024, which would see sides play 10 group games.

This week will see talks continue within UEFA over a number of proposals to alter the format of Europe’s top-tier tournament, amid concerns of a stagnant group stage.

For some, the belief is that too many ‘meaningless’ games are fit into the current four-team group setup, with Liverpool’s early qualification to the last 16 perhaps evidence of this as their upcoming clash with Midjtylland is a dead-rubber.

According to the Times, a ‘Swiss system’ is the favoured option, which would see 32 or 36 clubs all in one division, with each side playing 10 group games against different opposition.

“They would not all play each other, but a random draw would select 10 matches – five at home and five away – for each club against opponents of varying strength based on seeding,” Martyn Ziegler explains.

“The existing system has 32 clubs split into eight groups of four who play each other home and away.

“The points from those 10 matches for each club would be registered in a single league table, from which the top 16 would progress to the knockout rounds.

“The top club would play the team who finished 16th and the second-placed team would play the one that finished 15th, and so on.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker and his team-mates line-up before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Those to finish outside of the top 16 would be eliminated, though 17th to 24th would take part in the knockout stages of the Europa League instead.

Interestingly, it is added that either the quarter-finalists or the semi-finalists of the Champions League would automatically qualify for the following season’s tournament, regardless of their domestic placing.

The addition of further games in the Champions League – particularly as discussions are taking place during the busiest campaign in history – could be a controversial topic.

And Ziegler adds that “it would almost certainly mean that English clubs in Europe would have to drop out of the League Cup and may result in an end to FA Cup replays.”

This may not be seen as a negative for those who invariably take part in the Champions League, but clubs further down the English football pyramid could certainly take issue due to the likely loss of revenue.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) celebrates after scoring the first goal, the club's 10,000th goal, during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is claimed that there is significant backing for the ‘Swiss system’, and it is certainly an intriguing proposal as, in theory, every group game would have something riding on it.

Ziegler even provided an example of the possible group Liverpool could be drawn based on this season’s Champions League – with English opponents exempt.

In the simulation, the Reds were drawn against Real Madrid (pot 1), PSG (pot 1), Dortmund (pot 2), Shakhtar Donetsk (pot 2), Ajax (pot 2), RB Leipzig (pot 3), Lazio (pot 3), Krasnodar (pot 3), Club Brugge (pot 4) and Rennes (pot 4).

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