2017-18 Champions League

Titans Bastard

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We're less than a week away from the start of qualifiers, where the minnows will battle it out for a chance to get smothered in the group stage by clubs that occupy a higher caste in European soccer's financial system.

In the group stage, it's a group of familiar faces with the exception of RB Leipzig who qualified in their first season in the Bundesliga. Hoffenheim are starting in the final round of the non-champions qualifying bracket and could also make their CL debut. Both clubs will be hindered by their lack of European experience, which guarantees that they will have shitty seeds every step of the way.

As a result of their first domestic title since 1998-99, Feyenoord will play in the group stage for the first time since 2002-03.

Some notes from the qualifying brackets. Five qualifying slots are given to champions of countries that aren't ranked highly enough to earn direct entry to the group stage. Five qualifying slots are given to non-champions of better ranked countries. The latter is always a tougher draw.
  • Kosovar clubs are playing in Europe for the first time this season. Trepça 89 will represent their league in the first qualifying round against Víkingur Gøta of the Faroe Islands.
  • Viitorul Constanța, which was founded by Gheorghe Hagi in 2009, won the Romanian league for the first time and will enter qualifiers in the 3rd round.
  • AEK Athens are back in Europe after a financial crisis that pushed it down to Greece's third tier a few years ago.
  • Croatia are represented by NK Rijeka, who ended Dinamo Zagreb's streak of 11 consecutive league titles.

 

swiftaw

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RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg had to prove to UEFA that there was enough separation between their ownership structures (they are both owned by Red Bull) before they were both allowed into the Champions League.
 

Luis Taint

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I won't be watching, I'll be geared up to watch Arsenal play in Kazakhstan on a Thursday night.
 

Arroyo Con Frijoles

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I was in Poland for the last week of their league season, an exciting finish after a Legia draw opened the door for Jagiellonia Bialystok. But the latter couldn't find another goal despite like 10 minutes of added time in their match, so Legia qualified again.

When people talk about the big financial benefit of CL qualification, is that felt at this point, too, or only when getting into the group stage?
 

Titans Bastard

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I was in Poland for the last week of their league season, an exciting finish after a Legia draw opened the door for Jagiellonia Bialystok. But the latter couldn't find another goal despite like 10 minutes of added time in their match, so Legia qualified again.

When people talk about the big financial benefit of CL qualification, is that felt at this point, too, or only when getting into the group stage?
The group stage is where the real money is.

Prize money: (€761,900,000 in 2016-17)

lose in first qualifying round: €220,000
lose in second qualifying round: €320,000
lose in third qualifying round: €420,000
lose in playoff round: €3,000,000 (and access to EL group stage money)
win in playoff round: €2,000,000 (and access to CL group stage money)

bonus for domestic champions who fail to qualify for CL group stage: €260,000

group stage: €12,700,000, plus €1,500,000 per win and €500,000 per draw.

So basically even if a club like Legia gets blasted in the group stage, they'll get around €15,000,000 in prize money alone.

TV money: (€507,000,000 in 2016-17)

This is split up based on the "proportional value of each television market", so in other words the Real Madrids and Chelseas of the world are going to get a much larger share of this money than Legia or Ludogorets Razgrad or whoever qualifies from the Champions Route bracket.


http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2398575.html

For comparison, the overall prize money and TV money are both about 3.5x less in the Europa League:

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=2398584.html
 

swiftaw

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Competition gets underway tonight with the 1st legs of the first round:

Víkingur Gøta (Faroe Islands) vs KF Trepça'89 (Kosovo)
Hibernians F.C. (Malta) vs FCI Tallinn (Estonia)
FC Alashkert (Armenia) vs FC Santa Coloma (Andorra)
The New Saints F.C. (Wales) vs Europa F.C.(Gibraltar)
Linfield F.C. (Northern Ireland) vs S.P. La Fiorita (San Marino)

I was curious as to how often the teams from this round advance beyond the 2nd round, I had to go all the way back to the 2012/13 champions league when F91 Dudelange from Luxembourg started in the first round and made it to the third round.
 

Titans Bastard

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I was curious as to how often the teams from this round advance beyond the 2nd round, I had to go all the way back to the 2012/13 champions league when F91 Dudelange from Luxembourg started in the first round and made it to the third round.
There are three factors in play here.

1. Obviously, the teams in the 1QR are pretty bad.

2. They have low seeding and often wind up with tough 2QR matchups against the biggest clubs involved - this season, that includes Red Bull Salzburg, Celtic, and BATE. A tough matchup isn't guaranteed; in the 2QR there are 17 seeded teams and 17 unseeded teams and there are usually a few particularly weak-looking seeds (like Iceland's FH this year, who will be the opponent of Trepça or Víkingur Gøta).

3. The 1QR only involved a small number of clubs, so there aren't many lottery tickets to the (relatively speaking) David vs. Goliath sweepstakes. Only rarely does something like Dudelange's away-goals win over RB Salzburg in 12/13 happen.


It's actually easier for a shitty team to get from the 2nd to 4th round than to get from the 1st to 3rd round. The reason is because the draw for the third qualifying round is made before the second qualifying round is complete. For seeding purposes, the third qualifying round assumes that the higher seed will win. So if you beat a higher seeded team in the 2QR, you get to "steal" your opponent's seed and usually wind up with a relatively soft draw.

In the 1QR, everyone sucks and has a terrible seeding so there's nothing to "steal" - you're going to wind up playing a seeded club in the 2QR no matter what.
 

InstaFace

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Hibernians of Malta? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? I mean, like, worse than Miami of Ohio or something, because at least Miami is a reference, rather than, you know, the Roman name for Ireland.

(TB, thanks for that explanation, excellent and informative as usual)
 

Titans Bastard

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All seeded clubs won in the 2QR except for Vardar's win over Malmö. 3QR losers parachute to the Europa League playoff round; the winners are guaranteed to play in at least the EL group stage.

Third qualifying round draw:

Champions --

Slavia Prague (CZE) vs. BATE Borisov (BLR)
Astana (KAZ) vs. Legia Warsaw (POL)
Maribor (SLO) vs. FH (ISL)
Copenhagen (DEN) vs. Vardar (MKD)
Celtic (SCO) vs. Rosenborg (NOR)
Hapoel Be'er Sheva (ISR) vs. Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
Viitorul Constanta (ROU) vs. APOEL (CYP)
Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) vs. Rijeka (CRO)
Qarabag (AZE) vs. Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)
Partizan (SRB) vs. Olympiacos (GRE)

Non-Champions --

Steaua Bucharest (ROU) vs. Viktoria Plzen (CZE)
Nice (FRA) vs. Ajax (NED)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) vs. Young Boys (SUI)
AEK Athens (GRE) vs. CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Club Brugge (BEL) vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR)


It's weird seeing a Turkish club that's not one of the big three.

The 20 clubs on the Champions side are playing for five group stage places. For the non-champions, Sevilla, Napoli, Liverpool, Sporting CP, and Hoffenheim join the fray in the final qualifying round.
 

Schnerres

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The 20 clubs on the Champions side are playing for five group stage places. For the non-champions, Sevilla, Napoli, Liverpool, Sporting CP, and Hoffenheim join the fray in the final qualifying round.
So, if I´m correct, the five teams + 10 possible teams (the non-champions) are then seeded and drawn against each other. I don´t know if it´s that way, I would guess it´s best five UEFA rankings in one pot (get the home match in 2nd leg) and worse five UEFA rankings get in another pot (get the home match first) and then it´s drawn.

Who has the rankings for the 15 teams, so we can speculate who wants to avoid who and so on...
(the rankings I found, include the current season 17/18, so I don´t know if this is correct...)

1. Sevilla: 109.799 (Wikipedia: 1.: 112.999)
2. Napoli: 80.049 (Wiki: 2.: 88.666)
3. Liverpool: 44.363 (Wiki: 3.: 56.192)
4. Sporting: 30.783 (Wiki: 4.: 36.866)
5. Hoffenheim 12.656 (Wiki: 5.: 15.899)

6. Steaua Bucarest 22.050
5. Victoria Plzen: 24.975
8. Nice: 14.749
1. Ajax: 57.549
2. Dynamo Kiev: 56.786
7. Young Boys Bern: 20.400
10. AEK Athens 5.740
3. CSKA: 36.316
4. Club Bruges: 35.340
9. Istanbul Basaksehir: 8.460

Wikipedia says this (german link is more detailed with coefficient ratings):
seeded in playoffs:
-Sevilla (112.999)
-Napoli (88.666)
-Liverpool (56.192)
unseeded in playoffs:
-Hoffenheim (15.899)
not sure:
Sporting (36.866)

Minimum rankings coming through playoffs:
Steaua vs. Plzen (min. 35.370/max.40.635)
Young Boys Bern vs. Dynamo Kiev (min.28.915 / max. 67.526)
Nice vs. Ajax (min. 16.833 / max. 67.212)
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. FC Bruges (min. 10.340 / max. 39.480)
AEK Athens vs. CSKA (min. 6.580 / max. 39.606)

To rank every team:
1) Sevilla (112)
2) Napoli (88)
3) Dynamo Kiev (67.5)
4) Ajax (67.2)
5) Liverpool (56)
6 ) Viktoria Plzen (40)
7) CSKA (39.6)
8) FC Bruges (39.4)
9) Sporting (36.8)
10) Steaua (35.3)
11) Young Boys Bern (28)
12) Nice (16)
13) Hoffenheim (15)
14) Istanbul Basaksehir (10)
15) AEK (6)

Sporting + Hoffenheim will be in the unseeded pot, if I made no mistakes (and guess correct that 2 of the 5 of Bruges, CSKA, Plzen, Ajax and Kiev move on).
 

Titans Bastard

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Sporting + Hoffenheim will be in the unseeded pot, if I made no mistakes (and guess correct that 2 of the 5 of Bruges, CSKA, Plzen, Ajax and Kiev move on).
That's right. Four of the five 3QR seeded teams would have to lose in order for Sporting CP to be seeded in the 4QR. Hoffenheim has no chance of being seeded because only Istanbul Basaksehir and AEK Athens have worse seeds.

20% of seeding is based on country performance over the last five years and the other 80% is based on club performance over the same span. So if you have Hoffenheim, who haven't played in Europe before, their seed is going to be total crap. The system rewards countries that send the same clubs to Europe every year and punishes those who have some turnover. (RB Leipzig will probably have the worst seeding coefficient in the group stage.)

Bert Kassies' UEFA site is the best resource for this stuff:

https://kassiesa.home.xs4all.nl/bert/uefa/index.html

CL seeding specifically is here:

https://kassiesa.home.xs4all.nl/bert/uefa/seedcl2017.html
 

Titans Bastard

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where can we watch these early matches in the US?
Pirated streams, most likely. FOX might put a few matches on their subscription service (Fox Sports Match Pass) but there just isn't much of a market for these games. American TV viewers largely don't care about European club soccer outside of the EPL, El Clasico, and a bit of the Bundesliga.
 

Titans Bastard

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Third qualifying round draw:

Champions --

Slavia Prague (CZE) vs. BATE Borisov (BLR)
Astana (KAZ) vs. Legia Warsaw (POL)
Maribor (SLO) vs. FH (ISL)
Copenhagen (DEN) vs. Vardar (MKD)
Celtic (SCO) vs. Rosenborg (NOR)
Hapoel Be'er Sheva (ISR) vs. Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
Viitorul Constanta (ROU) vs. APOEL (CYP)
Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) vs. Rijeka (CRO)
Qarabag (AZE)
vs. Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)
Partizan (SRB) vs. Olympiacos (GRE)

Non-Champions --

Steaua Bucharest (ROU) vs. Viktoria Plzen (CZE)
Nice (FRA) vs. Ajax (NED)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) vs. Young Boys (SUI)
AEK Athens (GRE) vs. CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Club Brugge (BEL) vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR)
Winners in bold. The "seeding upsets" -- whether they were real upsets or not is hard to say -- were Astana, Rijeka, Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Slavia Prague, and all the non-champions bracket winners except CSKA.

Seeds for the final round:

Champions --
Seeded: Olympiacos, Celtic, Copenhagen, APOEL, Maribor
Unseeded: Qarabag, Astana, Rijeka, Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Slavia Prague

Non-Champions --
Seeded: Sevilla, Napoli, Liverpool, CSKA Moscow, Sporting CP
Unseeded: Steaua, Young Boys, Nice, Hoffenheim, Istanbul Basaksehir


Losers from the 3rd round go to the Europa League playoff round. Losers from the upcoming round will go to the EL group stage.
 

InstaFace

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Tough break for Ajax. From the EL Final, with a chance to go direct to the group stage and also carry home what I consider to be a major trophy, to knocked out of CL qualifying - and not even in the final rounds.

And I know you've explained why, TB, but I can't get over that Hoffenheim's club coefficient ranks them 9th out of 10 in the League Route playoff group, behind Young Boys, Steaua and Nice. Would suck for Liverpool or Sevilla to draw them, huh?
 

Titans Bastard

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And I know you've explained why, TB, but I can't get over that Hoffenheim's club coefficient ranks them 9th out of 10 in the League Route playoff group, behind Young Boys, Steaua and Nice. Would suck for Liverpool or Sevilla to draw them, huh?
The amazing thing is that they are ninth even though the seeded teams in the 3rd round got massacred - four out of the five lost. Istanbul BB and AEK Athens are the only two clubs who participated on the Non-Champions side with a worse seeding coefficient; the fact that one of them won is the only reason Hoffenheim aren't 10th this round. (There's no difference between being 9th or 10th or 6th, though. There is only seeded and unseeded.)

Not that it matters because they are in different qualification brackets, but Hoffenheim's seeding coefficient is worse than FK Astana, Maribor, Qarabag, and everybody left on the Champions side too, except Hapoel Be'er Sheva and Slavia Prague.
 

swiftaw

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Playoff Round

Champions Route

Hapoel Beer-Sheva (Israel) v NK Maribor (Slovenia)
CELTIC (Scotland) v Astana (Kazakhstan)
Olympiacos (Greece) v NK Rijeka (Croatia)
APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus) v Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)
Qarabag FK (Azerbaijan) v Copenhagen (Denmark)

League Route

Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey) v Sevilla (Spain)
Young Boys (Switzerland) v CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Napoli (Italy) v Nice (France)
Hoffenheim (Germany) v LIVERPOOL (England)
Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) v Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
 

Domer

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All five matches will be available pretty broadly in the US, yet no one has picked up the Open Cup semifinal:

12:00 pm Qarabag vs. Copenhagen FS2
2:45 pm APOEL vs. Slavia Prague ESPN3
2:45 pm Hoffenheim vs. Liverpool FS1
2:45 pm Sporting CP vs. Steaua FOX Soccer Plus, ESPN Deportes
2:45 pm Young Boys vs. CSKA Moscow FS2
 

Schnerres

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So tonight´s first matches include these:

A: Manchester United vs Basel
A: Benfica vs CSKA
B: Celtic vs PSG
B: Bayern vs Anderlecht
C: Roma vs Atletico
C: Chelsea vs Qarabag
D: Barca vs Juve
D: Olympiacos Piräus vs Sporting
 

Domer

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How in the world did Fox give United-Basel top billing? Either way, all of the games not on FS1/FS2 are on either ESPN3 or Facebook Live. Should be a fun afternoon of soccer. Next year, they'll start half the matches at 1:00 and 3:00 ET.
 

swiftaw

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How in the world did Fox give United-Basel top billing? Either way, all of the games not on FS1/FS2 are on either ESPN3 or Facebook Live. Should be a fun afternoon of soccer. Next year, they'll start half the matches at 1:00 and 3:00 ET.
Yeah, but next year Turner owns the rights and you'll only get 1 match per time slot for free. The rest will be on a paid streaming service.
 

Domer

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Yeah, but next year Turner owns the rights and you'll only get 1 match per time slot for free. The rest will be on a paid streaming service.
Yeah, I posted about it in the tv thread. It's definitely going to suck to pay for stuff that's free (or no additional charge) but from a viewer's perspective, we'll no longer have to deal with 8 great games being played simultaneously. Also in the new deal, exactly one Europa League match will be televised.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Pitting Neymar, Cavani, and Mbappé against a backline of Ralston, Lustig, Simunović, and Tierney is just unfair
 

InstaFace

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I'm pretty sure the only other player with the close control and shotmaking ability in such a tight window who could have scored as Messi did, is opposite him on the field here - Dybala. Just incredible footwork.
 

SoxFanInCali

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Messi just got a yellow for making the arm motion that someone else should be carded. I would love if that was enforced 100% of the time.
 

SocrManiac

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First goal(s) Messi has scored on Buffon.

I want to be upset by a 3-0 loss, but with the list of injuries and the somewhat consistent slow starts the Old Lady has been experiencing of late, I can rationalize my pain away.
 

Titans Bastard

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Today's results mean that England has inched ahead of Germany in the coefficient rankings for the moment.
 

bosox4283

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Atletico with an impressive performance against Roma, except for the fact that Atleti didn't score a goal. The team looked really good, and I'm happy with the way Simeone is incorporating young players. Thomas Partey is emerging as a key player in the midfield, and Correa seems to have an extra spark this year.

More than anything, Griezmann has yet to find his rhythm. His lack of scoring so far this year explains why Atletico is playing good football but not winning.
 

wonderland

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I watched a little and Juanfran looked shaky. He had a couple close calls where Roma players might have bailed him out by looking for a PK call.
 

bosox4283

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I watched a little and Juanfran looked shaky. He had a couple close calls where Roma players might have bailed him out by looking for a PK call.
Juanfran is an Atleti hero, in my view, but he's on the decline. Vrsaljko is the top-choice right-back at this point, as long as his health permits him to take on the role.
 

Schnerres

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Today's results mean that England has inched ahead of Germany in the coefficient rankings for the moment.
What do we (well, the top4 leagues) need them for after this season? Is there a difference in uefa rating, if you´re 1st or 4th? Every Top4 rated league gets 4 direct spots from now on for the CL, so there should be no difference if it´s 1st by a mile or in a battle between 3rd/4th, as long as you can hold France and Netherlands, Portugal, etc. away, right?
 

Titans Bastard

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What do we (well, the top4 leagues) need them for after this season? Is there a difference in uefa rating, if you´re 1st or 4th? Every Top4 rated league gets 4 direct spots from now on for the CL, so there should be no difference if it´s 1st by a mile or in a battle between 3rd/4th, as long as you can hold France and Netherlands, Portugal, etc. away, right?
Just bragging rights, mostly.


Technically, there is a small benefit. The country UEFA coefficient, which dictates the number of clubs that qualify for Europe and the competition and round they enter, also contributes a bit to the individual club coefficient, which is used for seeding. However, the marginal value of having a #1 ranked coefficient instead of a #4 ranked coefficient is rather small. If you want your clubs to have good seeding, it's far, far more important that the same clubs qualify for Europe every single year than anything else.

(see: Hoffenheim drawing Liverpool in the QR, RB Leipzig having a lower coefficient than a club from Azerbaijan.)
 

Merkle's Boner

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Wow! Spurs have held the ball for about 45 seconds in total but have 2 goals. 2-1 Spurs.