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Marcotti: Germany's striking conundrum

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Why UEFA will guarantee Champions League places to the top leagues

The ESPN FC crew discuss the new changes made to the UEFA Champions League format that will go into effect in 2018.

UEFA has approved structural changes to the Champions League, with the biggest move being automatic group stage qualification for the top four teams from the top four leagues, beginning in the 2018-19 season. Gab Marcotti looks at how this came about. 

Q: So all has been revealed. Europe's rich get richer. The top four leagues will all have four guaranteed spots in the Champions League group stage. It's official now, right?

A: This pretty much confirms what some of us had previously reported....

Guardiola's Barcelona return headlines Champions League group stage draw

Pep Guardiola relishes in facing Barcelona in the Champions League group stage, and addresses new signing Claudio Bravo.

MONACO -- Tournament draws are designed to deliver balance, and, when they do their job, they're distinctly unexciting. So, unless you get lucky -- or you hire a WWE scriptwriter, which, for now, UEFA is not planning to do -- there's a decent chance you'll get a fairly humdrum draw.

That was the case for the 2016-17 Champions League group stage ... with one glaring exception: Group C is all about Pep Guardiola.

His Manchester City side face Barcelona, the club where he spent 22 of his 45 years on...

Real Madrid, Barcelona start well; Chelsea grab another win; Brazil's gold

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses James Rodriguez's role with Real Madrid and the possibility of him being moved.

Ahead of Real Madrid's game at Real Sociedad, there were plenty of reasons to imagine that Zinedine Zidane might have been grumpy by Sunday night. His side were making the tricky trip to Anoeta without five projected starters: Keylor Navas, Pepe, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and some guy named Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona had dazzled the night before in beating Real Betis 6-2 and Zidane, who delivered the club's 11th European Cup, was going into a new season with, basically, no new faces from the...

What the UEFA Champions League changes mean and how they happened

The ESPN FC crew discuss the implications of the changes coming to the UEFA Champions League upon UEFA's approval.
Steaua Bucuresti boss Laurentiu Reghecampf says he's confident his side will be able to qualify for the UCL group stage.

UEFA is set to approve some major structural changes to the Champions League, the highlight being automatic group stage qualification for the top four teams from the top four leagues. Gab Marcotti reviews what this might mean and how this happened.

Q: So, from 2018-19, the Champions' League will have 16 of 32 clubs coming from the top four leagues? When did that happen?

A: It hasn't -- yet. It needs to be approved by UEFA's executive committee later this month, but that's part of the compromise...

Arsenal nearly got away with it vs. Liverpool, Pep Guardiola rings changes

ESPN FC's Craig Burley breaks down the positives and negatives from both sides in Liverpool and Arsenal's seven-goal thriller.

We're getting that usual sense of deja vu at the Emirates. Arsenal lose their home opener, as they've done in three of the past four seasons, and Arsene Wenger is back under the spotlight. It's the usual story: Arsenal are flush with cash, he chooses not to spend it and the team as a result aren't as good as they could (should) be.

But there's probably more to it than that after the Gunners' 4-3 home defeat against Liverpool.

For a start, the Arsenal side that went out there may not look much...

The Premier League has never seen managerial talent like this before

The ESPN FC panel break down Manchester City's embarrassment of riches in their player pool in the upcoming season.

Is it talent or is it scheme? Is winning simply a function of having better players than your opponent, or does a great coach genuinely add value? It's the perpetual debate in any team sport, and odds are, you stake a position somewhere on the continuum of talent vs. coaching.

The 2016-17 Premier League season may be remembered as the one where the biggest clubs decisively decided to throw their resources at the coaching end of the spectrum. In fact, the men managing England's six biggest clubs...