Monday 23 October 2017

City suffer Champions League blow

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be frustrated by the new Champions League seedings
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be frustrated by the new Champions League seedings

Ian Herbert

Manchester City's hopes of making any immediate headway in the Champions League have hit a new obstacle, as Uefa's new rules for next season's competition confirm that the club may be relegated to the third tier of seeds if they qualify.

City could conceivably face both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the same group stage next season - a result of Uefa pressing ahead with plans for a seeding change to reward league winners - making the title holders in the seven highest-ranked countries plus the Champions League winners the top seeds in each of the eight groups.

The new rules, confirmed yesterday, are also likely to punish Arsenal and Manchester United, by relegating both to second-seed status. City are likely to slip to third seeds, based on their probable position outside Europe's top 16 clubs in the governing body's rankings.

City have dropped out of the top 16 according to the latest coefficients, with Juventus climbing in. Their continued struggles in Europe and a difficult domestic season have damaged their ranking.

On present placements, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Porto will drop in status in the August draw.

Though City had expected this news, it comes as another blow when obstacles to their development keep materialising. Any scintilla of hope Pep Guardiola might be willing to leave Bayern for the Etihad this summer vanished with the 6-1 annihilation of Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The sense remains at City that talk of a Manuel Pellegrini sacking may be premature. Though Napoli boss Rafael Benitez is ready to take on a Premier League job this summer, there is no sense City have been tempted by his extraordinary European record - which he will defend against Wolfsburg in the Europa League tonight.

United are already building the squad which they hope will enable them to compete in the Champions League next season, with Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels and PSV Eindhoven striker Memphis Depay among their targets.

Reports in Germany that United have made a bid for Hummels are wide of the mark, however.

City's summer is more fraught with uncertainty, including the future of Yaya Touré - who has indicated he has ambitions elsewhere and has sanctioned his agent to question Pellegrini's ability in an interview.

Pellegrini will be frustrated by the new seedings. Before this season's Champions League, he said City should have been seeded higher in the Champions League draw so as to avoid playing Bayern Munich for the second year running.

"In our group we have the champions of Germany, England and Russia, so it seems a bit unbalanced," he complained. (© Independent News Service)

UEFA Co-Efficients: 1 Real Madrid 167.228pts, 2 Barcelona 156.228, 3 Bayern Munich 149.711, 4 Chelsea 142.078, 5 Atletico M 120.228, 6 Benfica 118.209, 7 Schalke 111.711, 8 Porto 111.209, 9 Arsenal 110.078, 10 Man United 103.078, 11 Paris S-G 100.450, 12 B Dortmund 99.711, 13 Valencia 99.228, 14 Zenit 89.066, 15 Juventus 88.535, 16 B Leverkusen 87.711, 17 Man City 87.078

Irish Independent

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