Champions League is a group-stage sprint; marathon to final

by | Sep 4, 2022 | Sports

GENEVA — In this unusual season for European soccer, the World Cup in Qatar has split the Champions League into a sprint and a marathon.The group stage kicks off Tuesday and squeezes six rounds of games into eight full weeks, with the last group matches on Nov. 2.The congestion is caused by the shutdown of top-tier European soccer during a World Cup being played from Nov. 20-Dec. 18 in Qatar’s cooler months.In a normal season, teams never play Champions League games in consecutive weeks and the group stage would run into mid-December.This time, Champions League games come thick and fast in three separate sets of back-to-back midweeks to get the groups done before many players are called to national-team duty.For teams off to a poor start in domestic leagues, the Champions League offers no respite with two games by Sept. 14 to set the tone in each of the eight groups. “You can only enjoy the Champions League when things are going well in the (domestic) league,” said Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco on Saturday after his team lost 4-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Leipzig hosts Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday in Group F and goes to defending champion Real Madrid next week.Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen — which has lost four of its five Bundesliga games – and Sevilla, winless and 16th in the Spanish league, all start Champions League play from the bott …

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