By RYAN TOLMICH
As it currently stands, the UEFA Champions League seeding system does little to prevent “groups of death.” However, the tournament is now set to move away from the current system in an effort to reward league champions.
UEFA revealed Monday that the Champions League would move to a different seeding format starting next season, with the tournament’s eight top seeds being composed of seven domestic champions and the reigning Champions League winner.
“The club committee felt that there should be somehow an additional award given to the winners of the different national competitions,” UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said. “It was maybe a bit difficult to understand especially in the last few years where the winner of the national league was not necessarily the best-ranked club.
“It happened in France and it happened in England, people had difficulties in understanding how the champion of a country is in a lower pot than the third ranked in that country…I think it’s kind of a natural thing to give to those who have won a competition a special treatment like this.”
Seeding became a point of controversy during this year’s tournament, which features a grouping of German champions Bayern Munich, English champions Manchester City Russian champions CSKA Moscow and Italian powerhouses AS Roma.
Here are some more of Thursday afternoon’s news and notes:
KOSCIELNY PULLS OUT OF FRANCE SQUAD DUE TO INJURY
Just one day after Mesut Ozil joined the club’s laundry list of injured stars, Arsenal have another injury scare on their hands.
Defender Laurent Koscielny has pulled out of the French national team squad due to an achilles injury ahead of the team’s upcoming international friendlies against Portugal and Armenia.
Koscielny has been bothered by the injury in recent weeks, but has been played out of necessity due to the string of injuries affecting the Arsenal squad.
Arsenal are back in action against Hull City on Oct. 18, following the international break.
SHAQIRI CONSIDERING JANUARY MOVE
Despite impressing during the World Cup, Xherdan Shaqiri is still in search of first team minutes.
The Bayern Munich midfielder has started just three games this season after remaining at the Bundesliga club due to the team’s unwillingness to sell. However, Shaqiri is is planning on reopening discussions in the winter
“I wanted more game time in the summer, we all know that,” Shaqiri said. “We sat down with FC Bayern and talked. The message was quite clear: I have to stay. I accepted that. We will sit down in the winter again, and take it from there. It’s always of interest to play at a top club. And I have a long-term contract until 2016, and I will try to fulfill it.
“The most important thing to help put in good performances is to have good contact with the coach, and to feel his trust,” Shaqiri added. “That was not always the case with me. I need this trust and games to show myself and perform well. That’s why I wanted more game time in the summer. I was ready to try something new.”
STONES TO MISS AT LEAST 10 WEEKS
One of the Premier League’s most promising young defenders is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.
Everton defender John Stones will undergo surgery on damaged ankle ligaments, which will leave the 20-year-old defender out of action for 10-14 weeks.
“John will need surgery, which will give us a perfect recovery for his left ankle,” said Everton manager Roberto Martinez. “We expect him to be out for probably the next 10 to 14 weeks depending on how everything goes. It’s a clear injury – not a complicated injury.
“Obviously, it’s a little bit of a setback because you don’t want to lose any players, but in John’s case we were very worried in the moment that it happened because those injuries can become a little bit difficult to treat. But this one is going to be straightforward and we are already counting down the days for him to come back and we’ll make sure he comes back stronger and ready for the final and most important part of the season.”
What do you think of the new Champions League ranking system? How do you see Arsenal replacing Koscielny if he is unfit to play? What club do you think would be the best fit for Shaqiri?
Share your thoughts below.