MeIn this unusual season for European football, the World Cup in Qatar split the Champions League into sprints and marathons.

The group stage started early today [Macau time] We’ll have our final group match on November 2nd, narrowing the 6-round game down to 8 full weeks.

The congestion is due to the closure of top-level European football during the World Cup, which runs from 20 November to December. 18 of the cool month in Qatar.

In a normal season, teams do not play back-to-back Champions League matches, with the group stages running until mid-December.

This time around, the Champions League matches will be intense and quick with three separate sets of consecutive midweeks to finish out groups before many players are called up to national team duty.

For teams that have been underperforming in their domestic leagues, the Champions League will have two games until 14 September to set the tone for each of the eight groups.

“You can only enjoy the Champions League when the (domestic) league is going well,” said Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco on Saturday after a 4-0 defeat to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. Leipzig will face Shakhtar he Donetsk in Group F on Tuesday and defending champions Real Madrid next week.

Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen (who have lost four of their five Bundesliga matches) and Sevilla, who are unbeaten and 16th in the Spanish league, start the Champions League in the bottom half of the domestic standings. Sevilla are at their worst on Tuesday, facing Manchester City in Group G. Leverkusen will face Club Brugge in Group B on Wednesday.

The schedule leaves little time to straighten things out, but plenty of time to look back later during the mid-season suspension of the competition, which lasts over three months. On February 14th, the Champions League will resume and the knockout phase will last him nearly four months.

The 10 June final will be the latest scheduled ever since the first European Cup title was decided on 13 June 1956, with the exception of the 2020 season, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thing.

59 days of group stages and 220 days to wait for the trophy to be presented in Istanbul.

How the team can maintain form between the two phases is one of the special challenges of this unprecedented schedule.

Man City are now on the cusp of a maiden Champions League title, with new signing Erling Haaland scoring 10 goals in his first six Premier League games.

Still, while most of Haaland’s club teammates are playing in the physically and emotionally taxing World Cup, it’s unclear what effect a break from the mandatory six-week competitive game will have on the Norwegian forward.

Even in a normal season, when the Champions League round of 16 pairings take place in mid-December, the club executives who attended the draw at UEFA Headquarters were faced with an underperforming opponent at home. Refuse to say out loud about pairing. In general, the version of the opponent we see in December is likely to be different than the opponent in his series two legs taking place in February and his March.

That’s even more so this time around, when the best-16 draw will take place on 7 November at UEFA’s lakeside headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The World Cup is a big mid-season commitment for many key players, and the January transfer window, which allows teams to reload their rosters, is set to be more volatile. The period is often fueled by demand for lesser-known players who have stood out on the world stage.

Whatever story the Champions League tells in this group stage starting today, it feels like a long time before we see the full picture. Graham Dunbar, Geneva, MDT/AP

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