Friday, December 07, 2012

Carra Wants Champions League Changes

Jamie Carragher believes extending the Champions League to 64 teams is not the way to go. The 34-year-old, who has played 91 games in the competition, is opposed to UEFA president Michel Platini's proposal to double the number of teams who qualify. Instead he has an idea of his own.

Carragher wrote in the Daily Mail: "Football is always evolving and I understand that new ideas have to be implemented from time to time but increasing the numbers competing in the Champions League is not the way to go.

"If you look at the way the group stages have fizzled out over the last couple of years, you will see that more teams won't raise the quality. Interest in the group stages has been dwindling and it has only been at the quarter-final stages that the competition has come alive.

"My idea would be to keep 32 teams but start things off with a knockout round, with all qualified teams needing a win to get through. So this year, for instance, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea would have to have to win through a high-stakes knockout round first.

"The draw for the knockout stage would be seeded, so you would never get a situation where Barcelona faced Real Madrid.

"Some people might say that is unfair to the smaller teams and nations that Platini wants to get involved. He should be credited for trying to help them but it is taking things away from the group stage.

"Surely the minnows in the competition should want to prove that they belong in the competition? Wouldn't that create more excitement? But with so much to lose, you could guarantee that all the seeded teams would be fully committed, regardless of who they were playing. That, in turn, would lead to better games.

"You would then be left with four groups of four, with the top two going through to contest the quarter-finals. You could almost guarantee that every game in the group stage would mean something and be of a high quality.

"Wouldn't it be great if all the groups were of the quality of the one this season that contains Real Madrid, Dortmund, Ajax and Manchester City?

"The problem when you have a 32-team group stage is that a lot of fixtures can be monotonous. The World Cup group stage, for instance, doesn't have the same intensity as the European Championship.

"Of course, the idea might get opposition from the big clubs, who would be fearful of falling out at the first hurdle and missing out on the subsequent revenue but wouldn't that make things more interesting and exciting?

"The aim for the Champions League has to be for every group game to mean something but, at the minute, they do not - just look at some of the matches that were played this week.

"When the Champions League was revamped in 1992, nobody would have envisaged teams playing weakened sides. That, however, is now the reality."

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