The soccer news starts with more rumors of changes to the Champions League. The European domestic leagues are trying to make sure that the path to Europe's top tournament continues to run through them. The club lobby may have other plans.
As always, any tweaks to Europe's top tournament are about making sure the top teams stay involved. With the ever present threat of a breakaway, the elite clubs want to make sure that their places are secure. Even in a season of disruption courtesy of former super club Ajax, it's the same old situation.
Ajax may be the best example with trying to lock leagues that should be changing meritocracies. Had the super league happened on schedule in the 1990s, Ajax would've been an obvious choice. Now? They're the Champions League underdogs who haven't had a claim on elite status since the 1990s. Other than "play in the handful of elite domestic leagues" there's no real answer for clubs outside of England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and to some extent France. By setting aside so many group stage spots for those leagues, UEFA made it clear that the Champions League is mainly about them. It's no surprise that all involved seem to be treating this season's revamp as a step.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis may have had it with the current version, but that's not the majority opinion from the game's elites. Instead, it's fencing in the Champions League for them. That might not have been the point of the tournament prior to UEFA moving to the Champions League format in the early 90s, but we're decades into it being the driver.
It's been worth asking where this logically ends from the moment UEFA decided to allow non-champions to participate. The answer is clearer now, but it's still a laboriously long process to get to that foregone conclusion.
Moving to the soccer scores, Mix Diskerud scored in Ulsan Hyuandai's 1-0 home shutout of Sydney FC in the AFC Champions League earlier today. Diskerud's goal came in the 59th minute with Oh Seung-hoon making four saves to keep the clean sheet. With a game left in group H, Ulsan Hyundai has already advanced to the knockout round.
Jonathan Amon subbed out in stoppage time for Nordjaelland's 0-0 draw at Esbjerg in the SAS-Ligaen. Julian Green's Furth lost 4-0 at home to Cologne in the 2.Bundesliga. Furth fell behind in the 8th minute and gave up a 20th minute own-goal. Cologne added goals in the 41st and 65th minutes. With two games remaining, Furth is in 14th-place six points above the relegation playoff spot.
In the Concacaf U-17 Championship, the USMNT won Group F with a 3-0 shutout. They face Guadeloupe in the round of 16 on Thursday. Griffin Yow opened the scoring in the 25th minute and doubled the lead in the 51st. Alsonso Ocampo-Chavez finished off the scoring in the 86th minute. USMNT goalkeeper Damian Las needed one save to keep the clean sheet.
Fansided's Graham Ruthven previews the second-leg of the Spurs Ajax Champions League semifinal series. FourFourTwo's Andy Mitten's take on the situation at Manchester United. The Guardian's Sid Lowe on the final undecided relegation place in La Liga. World Soccer's Paddy Agnew profiles Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
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