After the draw for the group stages of the Champions League was made, one thing became abundantly clear. As with a great deal of Uefa related things, the draw and more specifically the seeding is an utter joke. In any competition there is expected to be a group of death, but to have a group containing the champions of England, Spain, Holland and Germany is nothing short of ludicrous. Add to this certain sides who seem to find themselves in shall we say easier groups season after season, and fans begin to wonder exactly what is going on.
Whilst I am in no way insinuating that United and Uefalona – sorry Barcelona- have some kind of sweet deal with Uefa, it does seem strange that yet again both are in a group that will provide little trouble for them – then again last season United were knocked out by a culinary herb, so there is hope yet.
The real trouble is how the seeding is worked out – Chelsea have found themselves falling foul of this in the not too recent past, having been in groups with teams such as Barcelona in the past, and City now have this all to look forward to for the next couple of years at least. Even a giant like Real Madrid is not safe from the madness of Uefa seedings, with reinstatement to the top pot of seeds only recently being gained.
Seeding is based on a point system, with previous performances in domestic leagues, not to mention the completion itself being taken into account, meaning a team like City or Dortmund who are technically champions of their country will always suffer due to not having a pedigree in the competition – making it a double edged sword with it being harder to establish a pedigree because of the lack of one. Crazy – yes, but entirely necessary according to Uefa.
Chelsea – the defending champions did not even technically qualify in the top four of the Premier League yet due to being victors last time out found themselves as top seeds. Dortmund found themselves in the fourth and final pot of seeds – having won their league and previously lifted the Champions League once before. Porto were in the top pot due to lifting the trophy twice and being Portuguese champions, and bizarrely Arsenal who have not won a trophy in 7 years have found themselves in the top pot yet again – no wonder it takes so long for Uefa to explain how the draw is worked out!
Country protection also proves an issue, although is a slightly more understandable one at least in the initial stages of the competition, yet clearly favours the so called bigger sides and helps them to avoid each other. This is justified by saying that it will make the contest better later down the line, if Real Madrid avoiding Barcelona or United avoiding Chelsea only makes for a stronger latter stage of the competition – how fair this is remains to be seen but then again with Uefa fairness doesn’t really come into it.
In reality the only thing that suffers from such seeding is the competition as a whole, with teams who are not totally up to scratch having a chance of getting through the group stages, and at least a couple of sides who would walk any other group and who deserve to go through losing out.
This of course should not come as a surprise been as though Uefa have resisted goal line technology for countless seasons, failed to make proper provisions for teams who win the competition but do not qualify in the top spots for their country and have a man the helm who would happily take a place from the Premier League or La Liga and give it to the first Eastern European country that showed interest in it.
City can at least take comfort in the fact they have graduated to the second pot of seeds – but the way the draw worked for them, they may as well be in the 4th pot for all the good it has done them – at least the players and fans are used to doing it the hard way.