Arsène Wenger has reiterated his dislike for the current Champions League system, which sees teams that finish third in their group being able to drop down into the Europa League.
This season, CSKA Moscow, Celtic, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Napoli and Sporting Lisbon will all join the Gunners in the Europa League knockout stages.
Wenger admitted in his pre-BATE Borisov press conference that he doesn’t agree with UEFA’s policy to allow sides eliminated in the Champions League to get a second chance in the Europa League.
“It has always been the case and I have always been against it. We voted many times and you have to respect, that is what you call democracy, the majority voted for CL teams to go back to Europa League and in many, many years they won it.”
It does seem a bit bizarre that teams like Celtic, who picked up just one win in the group stages can now play in the same knockout rounds as Arsenal. It devalues the competition, and runs the risk of the Champions League rejects knocking out the sides who started the season in the tournament.
Most Champions League teams might consider the competition more of a hindrance. The two-legged Europa League knockout rounds will clog their fixture list, and the reward of Champions League football for winning the competition is probably an unnecessary one for most teams anyway.
The likes of Celtic, Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon are already in the Champions League spots in their respective countries. So, I’m with Wenger on this one.
I don’t want Champions League teams joining us in the next round, and I’ve never wanted us to drop into the Europa League in previous years either. Unfortunately, as Wenger says, this is just how it is.