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Chelsea rout example of major flaw with Champions League group stages

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Chelsea recorded their biggest ever Champions League victory over Maribor last night, but in truth their 6-0 romp is hardly worth shouting about when you consider the calibre of opposition.

Shakhtar Donetsk also battered BATE Borisov in a 7-0 rout that quite frankly makes Europe's premier club competition look pretty weak, it's time to give the competition's group stage a long overdue shake-up.

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Group stage yawn needs a revival

We'll leave Bayern Munich's quite incredible 7-1 demolition job in Rome out of the firing line on this occasion, with Pep Guardiola admitted himself immediately after that spellbinding display that the result has been anomaly.

There's definitely a major problem with the Champions League as it stands, there are too many meaningless matches, dead rubbers and one-sided contests in a tournament that's supposed to represent the pinnacle of European club football.

Anfield showdown an increasingly rare prospect

Liverpool's hotly-anticipated clash with Real Madrid this evening is an all too-rare prospect in this year's group stage, a genuinely exciting fixture rich with stories and a result that could genuinely go either way, despite the Spanish giants and holders being big favourites.

One glance at the standings in last season's group stage reveals the extent of the problem. Four teams failed to earn a single victory in six attempts in the 2013/14 campaign, including Real Sociedad and Marseille.

Neither are poor sides, far from it, but it's clear that once qualification is out of reach sides with league campaigns to consider effectively give up the ghost.

This season's competition promises to be strikingly similar, with 11 clubs still searching for their maiden victory as we turn towards the halfway mark of the group stages.

The structure of the competition as it stands has allowed the likes of Bayern, Barcelona and Real Madrid to create an enormous gap between them and the perennial chasing pack in the Champions League, whether UEFA wants to admit it not.

Can seeding change help solve the problem?

There's also the disappointing aspect of familiarity in this season's draw. Manchester City for example are facing Bayern and CSKA Moscow for the second year in succession, Arsenal up against familiar foes for the third time on the trot.

UEFA have pledged to examine the murky world of co-efficient standings and restructure the seedings for the group stage draw, which would be a welcome change that can hopefully throw up fresh matches on a regular basis.

Beyond that though a long-term fix is required. In all honestly the quality of the competition would improved greatly by a return to a 24-team format which worked brilliantly in the 1990's, but UEFA will never kick eight teams out of their own tournament given the huge sums of money that can earned with every single Champions League point.

Ultimately change may only come around if attendances start to drop across the continent, but if for example Chelsea fans are served up many more Maribor beatings and asked to pay a premium for the privilege it may come sooner than you might think.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Manchester City
UEFA Champions League
Arsenal
Premier League
Football

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