If you are a regular reader of Room 433 (thanks by the way), you will be aware of the format of this column by now. I take a big overarching issue from the world of football and decide I am vehemently opposed to or just very bored of it (see the Messi vs Ronaldo debate from last week) and decide to lock it away in Room 433 so it can never, ever be seen again.
Today, I am shaking up that format, however, as there are a number of small issues that have been niggling away at me and they are all to do with the Champions League.
Now, before we continue, I do not hate the Champions League. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is a fantastic competition and can often deliver some great games. That does not mean it is without its flaws, though. This season, the decision to start some group games at 17:55 is quite baffling. There was nothing wrong with all the games starting at 19:45 and if you want to keep up to date with all the games there is already the excellent ‘Goals Show’ on BT. So, this move stinks of TV companies running the game rather than fans.
In general, the group stage feels a bit cumbersome. I don’t think we have to go back to a straight knockout format like back in the old European Cup days. But certainly, the group stage could be limited so the games do not pile up so much at the end of the season. This would help ease the number of injuries teams suffer and for some players that can ruin their chances of playing for their country at major tournaments.
The away goals rule is probably something that deserves its own special place in Room 433. But while we’re on a roll we might as well discuss it now. The rule has the unique ability to unnecessarily kill off ties when we should be treated to an absolute end-to-end thriller. Yet, this rule means that teams at home are absolutely petrified of conceding, which is not how football should ideally be played.
So, the Champions League is far from perfect and elements of it absolutely belong in Room 433. However, don’t take this as sour grapes because my team Middlesbrough cannot even beat Rotherham at home and I’m jealous of how far off the Champions League my team is. The Champions League is still a good competition and I’m not jealous. Definitely not.