Champions League 'elite' no longer in control; UEFA can take on big clubs

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It really was not supposed to be like this for Europe's elite. Having been linked with a breakaway super league earlier this month, some of the biggest clubs head into this week's Champions League facing the doomsday scenario of making a group-stage exit next month.

Real Madrid could be forced to win on Matchday 6 to avoid elimination, as could Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Tottenham and Inter. And with Manchester United lurching from one bad performance to another, the home win against Young Boys on Tuesday, which would virtually secure, is far from nfl nike jerseys china

But while all of this might induce furrowed brows for the big boys, the scenarios should be seen as good news for UEFA. Rather than put their showcase competition at risk of being weakened without the presence of its biggest and most successful clubs in the knockout stages, the sense of jeopardy and uncertainty actually makes it more compelling and exciting.3

Perhaps the unpredictability of this season's group stage is precisely why the superpower clubs would relish the opportunity to pull up the drawbridge and create their own members-only competition at the expense of those who still possess the ability to land a knockout nike nfl jerseys wholesale

If European champions Real lose at Roma, then defeat on Dec. 12 vs. CSKA Moscow, who won 1-0 when the sides met at the Luzhniki Stadium last month, will see them eliminated (assuming the Russians overcome Viktoria Plzen this week.) The last time Madrid failed to progress beyond the group stage was in 1995-96; they failed to qualify for the following season's tournament.

If those permutations sound unlikely, then last season's beaten finalists are in more realistic peril. Defeats away to Napoli and Red Star Belgrade mean Liverpool cannot afford another loss in Paris. PSG, meanwhile, have only one win in four games, so need to avenge a 3-2 defeat at Anfield to turn next month's Liverpool-Napoli game into an elimination battle. And with Red Star just two spots outside the qualification spots, it remains possible that two big names could go by the wayside.

Elsewhere, Lyon go into their home game with Manchester City on Tuesday knowing that a win would secure a round-of-16 place and put them joint-top with Pep Guardiola's men on nine points, having already beaten the Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the competition.

And Spurs, who beat Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in last year's group stage, must beat Inter at Wembley to have any hope of qualification ahead of the Italians next month. Even if they do win this week, though, Mauricio Pochettino's men might need to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp next month to stay in the competition.

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