UEFA Set to Meet With Europe’s Top Clubs to Discuss Radical Champions League Transformation

Europe’s top clubs will meet with UEFA in Nyon, Switzerland, on Tuesday to discuss radical changes to the structure of the Champions League, which could lead to matches being played on weekends.

The meeting is considered a “brainstorming session” with a multitude of topics under discussion including a revamp of the Champions League qualification process into a simpler relegation and promotion format.

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The alterations would come into effect following the 2024 season, with the major Premier League clubs said to be the most ardent critics of UEFA’s structural proposals, out of fear of damaging the valuable television deals that has seen England’s top flight become the wealthiest league in the world.

Although UEFA did not confirm the exact topics of discussion for the meetings, European football’s governing body did confirm that the meetings will take place in a statement to Telegraph Sport.

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UEFA’s statement reads: “We can confirm that there will be an informal brainstorming session involving members of the Uefa Executive Committee and members of the ECA Board to discuss ideas and exchange views regarding club competitions post-2024 on Tuesday.

“Uefa will hold similar meetings with other stakeholder groups in the coming months, in order to allow for a proper consultation process before drawing up concrete proposals that could be studied more in-depth before any decisions are made.”

Gareth Bale

UEFA’s attempts to revamp Europe’s elite footballing tournament come after a tumultuous year in which rumours continued to grow about a potential breakaway European Super League to replace the Champions League, led by Real Madrid.

While the advent of a European Super League appears unlikely at this time with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin stating that it is a “fact” that the league will not exist, the potential Champions League changes could continue to raise anxiety amongst Europe’s elite, particularly agitating the continuously more powerful Premier League clubs.

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Tottenham Announce Season Ticket Price Freeze for First Full Campaign in New £1bn Stadium

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed a season ticket price freeze for the 2019/20 campaign, which will be the club’s first full season in its state-of-the-art new stadium.

With Spurs resisting temptation to increase prices despite increased costs, it means that loyal fans renewing their season tickets won’t have to pay a higher price.

A Spurs statement on Monday afternoon read, “The club can announce that we shall be freezing the prices of all Season Tickets for the 2019/20 season.

“We should like to thank our Season Ticket Holders for bearing with us and supporting the team at Wembley Stadium during what has been a challenging time. We acknowledge the inconvenience caused by this unique set of circumstances.”

Having left behind the old White Hart Lane in May 2017, moving into their new home next door has been a long time coming for Spurs after completion has been pushed back and back.


The team was initially supposed to start playing at the new White Hart Lane, still yet to be formally named, last September. Now, the first game at the new venue will finally be held early next month when Crystal Palace are the visitors in a Premier League fixture.

Six days later, Manchester City will also visit in the Champions League quarter final first leg.

It is has been reported that the project has cost in the region of £1 billion, but chairman Daniel Levy has assured fans that the transfer budget will not be adversely affected.

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In a meeting with Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, Levy has confirmed that the rising cost of the stadium will not change how much the club has to spend on transfers, a budget that will also be boosted if players are sold.

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Germany vs Serbia Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Germany host Serbia in an international friendly at Volkswagen Arena on Wednesday night as both sides prepare for their respective Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

The home team will travel to the Netherlands for their first clash on Sunday, whilst the Serbs face Portugal on Monday evening in Group B. Both managers will be using the midweek friendly as an opportunity to try out new players and tactics before they begin their respective qualifying campaigns.

Serbia v Montenegro - UEFA Nations League C

Joachim Löw’s men are still reeling from their World Cup nightmare and have yet to regain their once-scintillating form since returning from the tournament. In contrasting fashion, their opponents have been unbeaten since their exploits in Russia, a 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the group stages being their last loss.

Here is all you need to know ahead of the encounter in Wolfsburg.


Where to Watch

​When is Kick Off? ​Wednesday 20 March
What Time is Kick Off?​ ​19:45 (GMT)
​Where is it Played? ​Volkswagen Arena
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Sky Sports 1
Referee? ​Robert Madden

Team News

Löw made headlines at the start of the month with his announcement that Bayern Munich stalwarts Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng would no longer be considered for selection.

Cologne defender Jonas Hector, Schalke midfielder Sebastian Rudy and Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mario Gotze have suffered a similar fate after also being omitted from the coach’s most recent squad. Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler is unavailable due to injury.

Defensive duo Niklas Stark and Lukas Klostermann have received their first senior call ups, as has Werder Bremen midfielder Maximilian Eggestein, after the youngsters managed to impress in the Under-21 setup.

Aleksandar Kolarov has recovered from a knock to be named as Serbia’s captain for this week’s international match-ups. Official leadership roles have also been handed to Ajax’s Dušan Tadić and Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic.

Fulham hitman Mitrović is once again selected as he looks to continue his rich vein of form for the Balkan side. Highly-rated Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić is also in the squad, with the 24-year-old having enjoyed a superb season in Serie A.


Predicted Lineups

Germany ​Ter Stegen; Kehrer, Ginter, Süle, Rudiger, Schulz; Kimmich, Kroos; Gnabry, Sane, Werner
Serbia ​Rajković; Rukavina, Milenković, Veljković, Kolarov; Milinković-Savić, Matić, Lukić; Tadić, Ljajić, Mitrović.

Head to Head Record

This is just the third meeting between Germany and Serbia, with the record currently reading one victory apiece. 

In their last encounter it was the Serbians who emerged victorious, shocking their opponents 1-0 in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Then-Liverpool forward Milan Jovanović grabbed the only goal of the game, beating Manuel Neuer close to half time.

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That breakthrough came moments after Germany’s talismanic striker Miroslav Klose had been sent off for a dangerous lunge in what was a decidedly forgettable match for the favourites. Lukas Podolski also missed a penalty that day, compounding an awful showing from the Germans.

Two years prior they had won 2-1 in an international friendly at the Veltins Arena, with a late winner from Michael Ballack seeing his side home.


Recent Form

Germany have failed to move out of the shadow cast by their shambolic World Cup exit, continuing to struggle under intense scrutiny and criticism. Repeating their summer failure, the 2014 world champions came bottom of their UEFA Nations League pool over the autumn, unable to claim a single win.

They conceded twice late on to the Netherlands to forfeit a two-goal lead in their last match, ultimately drawing the game 2-2. That result followed up damaging defeats to the same opponents and France, completing a torrid 2018 for the nation.

A slim victory over Peru and a 3-0 drubbing of Russia – both of which were friendlies – are their only successes in recent fixtures, a record they must improve upon with critical qualifying matches to come.

Virgil van Dijk

The Eagles have fared much better of late, topping their Nations League group and seeing out the rest of the calendar year without a loss. However, they were competing in the third tier of the new tournament.

Nevertheless, triumphs over Lithuania and Montenegro, and a pair of draws against Romania, have left the Serbian camp in a buoyant mood. Their defence was impressive during that spell, as Mladen Krstajić’s team conceded just four goals across the six games.

Striker ​Aleksandar Mitrović stood out in those matches, netting six times to take his tally of international goals to 23.

Here’s how the two sides fared in their last five fixtures:

Germany Serbia
Germany 2-2 Netherlands (19/11) Serbia 4-1 Lithuania (20/11)
Germany 3-0 Russia (15/11) Serbia 2-1 Montenegro (17/11)
​France 2-1 Germany (16/10) ​Romania 0-0 Serbia (14/10)
​Netherlands 3-0 Germany (13/10) ​Montenegro 0-2 Serbia (11/10)
Germany 2-1 Peru (09/9) Serbia 2-2 Romania (10/09)

Prediction

​German football has endured one of its darkest periods in the last 12 months. The national side recorded their worst ever World Cup performance, whilst this week confirmed that the ​Bundesliga will have no representatives in the ​Champions League quarter-finals.

The visitors will look to take advantage of Germany’s low confidence, viewing this fixture as an excellent opportunity to claim a scalp. Pressure will certainly be on the hosts and they could wilt in a suffocating atmosphere.

Serbia v Montenegro - UEFA Nations League C

Recent displays suggest that an upset could be on at the Volkswagen Arena, with this being a period of transition for the Germans. Don’t be surprised to see Krstajić’s side claim a famous victory.

Prediction: Germany 0-1 Serbia

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Pontus Jansson Set for Three Weeks Out After Suffering Knee Injury in Sheffield United Defeat

​Leeds United will be without experienced defender Pontus Jansson for up to three weeks after the Swede injured his knee in the recent loss to rivals Sheffield United.

After dropping out of the automatic promotion places in the Championship after the defeat, things have since gotten worse for the Elland Road outfit with the news that Jansson is expected to be sidelined for an extended period of time after damaging his knee.

The Swede, who has been a prominent figure for Marcelo Bielsa’s side this season, picked up the injury midway through the encounter but decided to see out proceedings. 

Mateusz Klich,Pontus Jansson

The hosts had used all of their substitutions by that point, with the centre back soldiering on to avoid the team having to go down to ten men, and Jansson will now play no part in Sweden’s upcoming games.

An official statement on Leeds’ ​website reads: “Pontus Jansson will not join up with the Swedish national team during the international break. 

Marcelo Bielsa

“The centre back suffered an injury to his knee in Saturday’s game with Sheffield United which will see him sidelined for three weeks. Jansson will begin his rehab at Thorp Arch with the Leeds United medical team this week.”

Fortunately for the club, Jansson will not miss too many games given that the latest set of international fixtures begin soon. He will be unavailable for clashes with ​Birmingham City and ​Millwall, but could return to face ​Preston North End on 9 April.

Pontus Jansson

On top of those ​Championship matches, the 28-year-old – who has 20 caps for Sweden – will miss his nation’s European Championship qualifiers against Romania and Norway.

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Roy Hodgson Admits Crystal Palace Remain Unsure When Wilfried Zaha Will Return From Hamstring Injury

Roy Hodgson has raised concerns over the fitness of Wilfried Zaha after the Crystal Palace manager admitted that he “doesn’t know” how long his star player will be sidelined for.

Zaha missed the Eagles’ FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Watford after picking up a hamstring injury in Palace’s most recent Premier League loss to Brighton.

Wilfried Zaha

The winger does, however, have two weeks to recover from the knock, with Crystal Palace set to face Huddersfield in a fortnight after the conclusion of the international break.

The injury to Zaha comes at a worrying time for Palace supporters with the defeat to arch-rivals Brighton seeing the gap between Hodgson’s side and the relegation zone reduced to just five points.

Hodgson refused to allay fears surrounding Zaha’s availability, saying, as quoted by the Evening Standard: “You never know with hamstring injuries and strains. You need to be careful.

“He felt it after the Brighton game, he didn’t train during the week. We took him out on Thursday under controlled conditions, but it was obvious it would have been a serious risk.

Roy Hodgson,Ray Lewington

“With the two weeks coming up we can only hope he recovers.”

Palace endured a disappointing week leading up to the international break after being dragged back into the Premier League relegation battle before seeing their FA Cup run come to an end at the hands of Watford.

The Zaha-less Eagles managed to equalise at Vicarage Road through Michy Batshuayi but succumbed to defeat when Andre Gray struck the winner 11 minutes from time for the hosts.

Roy Hodgson,Wilfried Zaha

Despite the damaging seven days, the Eagles still find themselves as firm favourites for Premier League survival with just eight matches left to play – though Hodgson admitted to his side’s struggles when deprived of the influential Zaha.

He added: “He’s an outstanding player. You will miss them. Today, there can be no doubt about the effort, desire about the team.”

Zaha has continued to star at Selhurst Park this season, scoring eight goals and adding five assists, but his time in south London remains in the balance as big clubs throughout Europe eye the talented Ivorian international.

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