Spain Soccer Champions League

Group(s) of death: 2015 UEFA Champions League pots promise more drama


Two Spanish powers are preparing to sort out the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League title on Saturday in Portugal, but plenty of eyes in Europe are peeking at what awaits the clubs for next year’s tournament.

The end of many European campaigns have group stage coefficients set for the 2014/15 season of UCL play, with the final to be played in one year’s time in Berlin, and there are some very scary potential groups thanks to the return of Liverpool and AS Roma as “outsiders.” There’s also the potential nightmare of new big spenders AS Monaco and their tiny coefficient keeping them in Pot IV.

We know 22 of the teams for next year’s UCL, and the location of their temporary pots for the group stage. While it’s far too early to confidently predict whether Arsenal, Porto, Zenit, Napoli and Leverkusen will hold up their ends of the bargain and advance to hold their respect spots, let’s cheat a little and look at the potential nightmare for next season.

Pot I
Real Madrid
FC Barcelona
Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
*FC Porto

Pot II
Borussia Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain
Shakhtar Donetsk
*Zenit St. Petersburg
Manchester City

*Bayer Leverkusen
CSKA Moscow
Sporting Lisbon

Pot IV
*Steaua Bucarest
*BATE Borisov
AS Monaco

The biggest names that could barnstorm into the group stage to make it even tastier are Besiktas, Lille and Dnipro.

Last year’s toughest groups included a nightmare Dortmund, Arsenal, Napoli and Marseille bunch, as well as Real Madrid, Galatasaray, Juventus and Copenhagen.

As it stands, next year could see a loaded group like Roma, Liverpool, PSG and Bayern Munich, or Monaco, Juventus, Galatasaray and Real Madrid. The new climate of big spenders plus the reintroduction of teams with lower coefficients thanks to absences from previous tournaments will make for spicier groups stages than ever before.

You’re now free to go back to thinking about this year’s dandy final with Atletico and Real!

In “pretty good listener” Klopp, Liverpool has breath of fresh air

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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In some ways, all managers are the same: intelligent football men messing around with the puzzle that is winning matches.

But to listen to Jurgen Klopp’s introductory press conference is to get a different view. While some managers sound like they create the puzzles, or even create the game itself, Klopp speaks of the challenge with reverence.

[ MORE: Klopp unveiled as “the Normal One” ]

In other words, it seems unlikely we will be hearing him utter phrases designed at painting himself as a Picasso of the pitch, rather that of a museum curator.

For example, here’s the new Liverpool boss on the club’s history.

From JPW on Merseyside:

“Twenty-five years ago [since the last league title] is a long time,” Klopp said. “History is only the base for us, [we shouldn’t] keep the history in our backpack all day. I want to see the first step next week and not always compare with other times. This is a great club with big potential. Everything is there. Let’s try to start a new way. Everything is different – I don’t know it all but I’m a pretty good listener.”

The “normal one” speaks like an honor student, not the know-it-all professor demanding students regurgitate facts from the book he wrote and tossed on the syllabus.

And perhaps this is the manner in which the Reds will add a new, positive chapter to their storied history.

Kreis, Schmid dismiss Messing’s job switch comments

Sigi Schmid
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Broadcaster and New York soccer hero Shep Messing caused quite a stir with his comments during the Red Bulls/Impact match on Wednesday, and those words have cause plenty of reaction in MLS.

If you missed it, Messing claims that New York City FC is ready to move on from Jason Kreis after just one season, and that Seattle coach Sigi Schmid is set to swap jobs with the NYC boss.

Messing also claims that Caleb Porter could end his disappointing run in Portland to head back to college soccer.

Kreis and Schmid disagree. The latter says he loves the Sounders and is committed to bringing an MLS Cup to Seattle. Kreis was just flabbergasted.


“I was watching the game last night, and it caught me completely by surprise. I thought that was an absolutely ludicrous statement and unfounded,” Kreis said after training Thursday. “I have no knowledge of that information at all, and I kind of scratch my head because at the end of the day I’m very happy here.”

So is there any truth here? The Porter part makes sense, especially if the Timbers fail to make the postseason again and the brash coach wishes to go back to a place where he’s had success.

As for Schmid and Kreis, that’s a curious one. Maybe NYC’s star studded roster would like a change, and Schmid has more success with big egos. And Kreis would thrive just about anywhere, but why would NYC ditch a man who built this from scratch? They’ve invested so much in the ex-RSL legend.