The Champions League is heading for a conundrum like no other which has neutral fans scared for the parity of the UCL group stage or lack there of. Only 16 out of the 55 leagues UFEA Leagues are represented in this years group stage and that should be a cause for concern as that number will likely decrease next year with the new format to be installed.
What ar UEFA's options is another scary thought. The unbalanced Group Stage over the last few years has been alarming. In fact, unless your a team in the UEFA Top five that include, Spain, Germany, England, Italy and France there is really no hope for a team making a run to the Final Four. With that being said, here are a few options I think UEFA have.
1. Add More Teams
32 team group stage doesn't work because of where the strong teams are right now. After the Top 4 teams in Europe there is a big drop off and after the next 8 teams there is a another big drop off. 8 + 4 is 12 so in mathematically four groups are already decided when the draw is out. Increasing the Group Stage would allow for a smaller teams more of a chance. Also, the 6 game group stage doesn't work because it takes about 10.5 points to get to the knockout round. Therefore, teams would have to win all three games to remotely have a chance to advance. With all this said, the margin for error is so small.
2. Europa League needs to Mean More
Right now the 48 team Europa League is at times a clown show. Some teams don't take it seriously as some coaches find it a distraction. This will no longer be the case if the Champions League gap becomes wider. Right now the Europa League is competitive with more countries being represented every year. The chance of cinderella is way more possible.
3. Put the Champions League back into This
I know this sounds crazy but I think it would increase how special a European night would be. A 56 team Champions League. Every UEFA League gets 1 team into the League. This would make winning the League title super important and would add quality into the Europa League. This would mean in the Group Stage 32 countries would be involved. This likely won't happen but it is kinda keeps the small countries competitive with a chance of drawing a weak group.
Nothing will change overnight, we will see how the next three year cycle goes starting next year. This last cycle has been deadly for the underdogs and that is not fair to the smaller teams. A league that is dominated by a few teams isn't much of a league. The best sports leagues in the world have lots of parity.
Anyway, here are my predictions for the UCL Group Stage:
|1||Manchester United||6||5||1||0||14||3||11||16||Advance to knockout phase||—||27 Sep||31 Oct||22 Nov|
|1||Benfica||6||2||3||1||10||7||3||9||5 Dec||—||12 Sep||18 Oct|
|1||CSKA Moscow||6||1||2||3||8||13||-5||5||Transfer to Europa League||18 Oct||22 Nov||—||27 Sep|
|1||Basel||6||0||2||4||2||11||-9||2||12 Sep||31 Oct||5 Dec||—|
|1||Paris Saint-Germain||6||4||2||0||11||3||8||14||Advance to knockout phase||—||27 Sep||31 Oct||22 Nov|
|1||Bayern Munich||6||3||3||0||17||2||15||12||5 Dec||—||12 Sep||18 Oct|
|1||Celtic||6||0||3||3||5||14||-9||3||Transfer to Europa League||18 Oct||22 Nov||—||27 Sep|
|1||Anderlecht||0||0||2||4||1||14||0||2||12 Sep||31 Oct||5 Dec||—|
|1||Atlético Madrid||6||4||1||1||12||2||10||13||Advance to knockout phase||—||27 Sep||31 Oct||22 Nov|
|1||Chelsea||6||2||3||1||9||5||4||9||5 Dec||—||12 Sep||18 Oct|
|1||Roma||6||1||3||2||6||9||-3||6||Transfer to Europa League||18 Oct||22 Nov||—||27 Sep|
|1||Qarabağ||6||0||3||3||3||14||-11||3||12 Sep||31 Oct||5 Dec||—|
|1||Juventus||6||3||2||1||14||4||10||11||Advance to knockout phase||—||27 Sep||31 Oct||22 Nov|
|1||Barcelona||6||2||3||1||11||7||4||9||5 Dec||—||12 Sep||18 Oct|
|1||Sporting CP||6||2||2||2||8||8||0||8||Transfer to Europa League||18 Oct||22 Nov||—||27 Sep|
|1||Olympiacos||6||0||3||3||2||16||-14||3||12 Sep||31 Oct||5 Dec||—|
|1||Sevilla||6||4||1||1||12||5||7||13||Advance to knockout phase||—||26 Sep||1 Nov||21 Nov|
|1||Liverpool||6||2||3||1||14||12||2||9||6 Dec||—||13 Sep||17 Oct|
|1||Spartak Moscow||6||1||2||3||9||13||-4||5||Transfer to Europa League||17 Oct||21 Nov||—||26 Sep|
|1||Maribor||6||0||2||4||5||10||-5||2||13 Sep||1 Nov||6 Dec||—|
|1||Napoli||6||4||2||0||11||1||10||14||Advance to knockout phase||—||26 Sep||1 Nov||21 Nov|
|1||Manchester City||6||3||1||2||12||6||6||10||6 Dec||—||13 Sep||17 Oct|
|1||Feyenoord||6||0||5||1||3||8||-5||5||Transfer to Europa League||17 Oct||21 Nov||—||26 Sep|
|1||Shakhtar Donetsk||0||0||2||4||3||14||0||2||13 Sep||1 Nov||6 Dec||—|
|3||2||1||9||7||2||9||Advance to knockout phase||—||26 Sep||1 Nov||21 Nov|
|1||RB Leipzig||6||1||5||0||8||6||2||8||6 Dec||—||13 Sep||17 Oct|
|1||Monaco||6||2||2||2||7||7||0||8||Transfer to Europa League||17 Oct||21 Nov||—||26 Sep|
|1||Beşiktaş||6||0||3||3||5||9||-4||3||13 Sep||1 Nov||6 Dec||—|
|1||Real Madrid||6||6||0||0||14||1||13||18||Advance to knockout phase||—||26 Sep||1 Nov||21 Nov|
|1||Borussia Dortmund||6||2||2||2||10||4||6||8||6 Dec||—||13 Sep||17 Oct|
|1||Tottenham Hotspur||6||1||2||3||7||10||-3||5||Transfer to Europa League||17 Oct||21 Nov||—||26 Sep|
|1||APOEL||6||0||2||4||1||17||-16||2||13 Sep||1 Nov||6 Dec||—|
Don't see many surprises. Most groups will be decided by Matchday 3 it feels like. Basically the tier three teams have to literally win all three games or else it is a uphill battle. That's the tough part though. It's an accomplishment when a small team ties a Barcelona or Bayern Munich let alone beat them. That's the challenge UEFA faces to find the best format to make this competitive.