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The long soccer seasons started again and will generally run until May of next year.  Each national league features 20 teams in their top league, and they will each play every other team twice, so the season is 38 games.

UEFA Champions League and Europa League are international tournaments for top finishers of the prior season, i.e., top finishers of the 2015-2016 national league season play in the 2016-2017 international tournaments.  What's weird is that during the summer players can be "transferred" so that the team that won the English Premier League (Leicester City) may have different players than the team that will play in the Champions League.  Leicester City notably lost its star mid-fielder Ngolo Kante (who went to Chelsea).  

Who else is watching soccer? 

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Pretty much every Saturday/Sunday morning that I don't have other plans, NBC Sports gets flipped on, and it's EPL with my coffee and paper.

Ibra and Pogba seem to be fitting in well at ManU - they're going to be hard to beat this year. It's between them and City for the top spot, IMO.

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If Man City keeps winning, then I have to give Pep a lot of credit for turning around a team (that only finished 4th last season).  Still I don't think they have enough talent to compete with Barca/Real Madrid/Bayern Munich in the Champions League.  But at least EPL will be interesting to watch if both Manchester teams keep winning.

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The Celtic House  

located in Arlington on Columbia Pike and its ownership have developed a good crowd for European soccer.  I'm not sure if they are still getting crowds...but they used to draw well for away United games. 

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There's more parity in EPL than in La Liga/Bundesliga/Serie A. I think the top EPL teams will always have trouble winning in the final rounds of the Champions League because of that. But I think the EPL is a better and more entertaining league because of it.

For example: only twice in the last 15 years has anyone other than Barca/Madrid won La Liga. Juventus has won 5 consecutive Serie A titles. Bayern Munich has won 3 Bundesliga crowns in a row. There's generally a huge gap in the standings between the top 2-3 places (Champions League qualification) and the rest of the field. Some of those teams have even had undefeated or nearly-undefeated seasons.

But there have been 4 different winners in the past 4 years in the EPL, and last year it was a team that was in the lower division just 2 years previously. Titles are frequently won in the last week or two of the season, and Champions/Europa league spots are rarely set before then either.

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There is more parity in EPL, but that has little to do with not winning in the Champions League.  The competition in La Liga between Real, Barca, and Atletico is more fierce last year than EPL, and while generally it's a 2 horse race, those 2 are the strongest horses in European soccer.  Barca almost lost La Liga when it had a poor spell last season.  So while they might cruise to more victories, they play more games than anyone else and have to win almost every game to stay in the race.  Guys like Messi, Suarez, Neymar were playing 2 games a week almost every week, with La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, and international qualifying games.

I'm also sure the rich owners of EPL teams aren't satisfied with winning just the EPL.  They all want to win the Champions League too. 

 

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

There is more parity in EPL, but that has little to do with not winning in the Champions League.  The competition in La Liga between Real, Barca, and Atletico is more fierce last year than EPL, and while generally it's a 2 horse race, those 2 are the strongest horses in European soccer.  Barca almost lost La Liga when it had a poor spell last season.  So while they might cruise to more victories, they play more games than anyone else and have to win almost every game to stay in the race.  Guys like Messi, Suarez, Neymar were playing 2 games a week almost every week, with La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, and international qualifying games.

I'm also sure the rich owners of EPL teams aren't satisfied with winning just the EPL.  They all want to win the Champions League too. 

 

So, I disagree with pretty much all of this.

Yes, the competition among the top 3 in La Liga is intense, but they can play their B squad against the other 17 teams in the league and get the win most of the time.

The EPL is also a more physical league; guys pick up more injuries, and tackles that aren't even fouls in the EPL suddenly are yellow cards in the Champions League.

And while I agree that EPL owners want Champions League titles, Barca/Real/Bayern spend a TON more on salaries than the top EPL clubs.

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You're factually incorrect.  The pressure to win every game in La Liga is so strong that Luis Enrique didn't rotate much at all at Barca.  And because the starters played 2 games every single week, they hit a rough patch during the Champions League quarter-finals and lost to Atletico. 

Also, two of the top 4 teams in the Europa league were from Spain (3 out of top 8 Europa league teams were from Spain). 

And you'd be surprised how much Man U and Man City pays (hint, Man City pays as much as Real Madrid and more than Barca).   http://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/12910218/paris-saint-germain-tops-global-salary-survey

I enjoy watching EPL, but the reason they don't do well in Champions League is that they're just not as good as the top Spanish teams. 

These debates are pretty silly anyway.

 

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40 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

These debates are pretty silly anyway.

We agree on that part. :-)

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Champions League groups have been determined.

Man City is in the same group as Barca.  Atletico Madrid is in the same group as Bayern Munich.

No real group of death...

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Group B is the only one I wouldn't lay money now on the 2 qualifiers. But that's not because of the strength, but because none of the big boys got dropped in there. (Benfica, Dynamo Kiev, Napoli, Besiktas). Every other group, the quality gap between the two seeds and the two others is pretty vast.

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Group B is a bunch of minnows with the exception of Benfica.

Who do you got for Group E (CKSA Moscow, Tottenham, Leverkeusen & Monaco)?  I think that's a tightly packed group too.

Group H - I'm not sure Seville will come out because of whole-sale changes made during the summer (coach and top players all left).

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On 8/22/2016 at 5:04 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Who else is watching soccer? 

Well, I hope to - my goodness this thread was difficult for me to tag.

What is an "association?" There are apparently 55 of them, and Kosovo didn't qualify in their first attempt, so only 54 are represented. Is there a 1-1 correspondence between countries and associations, but each association can have multiple teams, e.g., Reál Madrid and Barcelona?

Also, I see the word "coefficient" thrown around a lot - what does that mean, and does it have more than one context?

I get the sense this is something of a big deal.

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

Well, I hope to - my goodness this thread was difficult for me to tag.

What is an "association?" There are apparently 55 of them, and Kosovo didn't qualify in their first attempt, so only 54 are represented. Is there a 1-1 correspondence between countries and associations, but each association can have multiple teams, e.g., Reál Madrid and Barcelona?

Also, I see the word "coefficient" thrown around a lot - what does that mean, and does it have more than one context?

I get the sense this is something of a big deal.

To get good answers and to appreciate it in greater depth you should go to a soccer bar to watch wherein you could ask questions from knowledgeable fans.  I used to watch.  I don't anymore  (maybe once in a blue moon), but not enough to follow at the level its being discussed above.  Its been years since I followed this closely and I have no sense of players let alone teams and leagues.  I'm completely removed and these two above are discussing this in the context of in depth fans. 

In watching with other fans you will also get a sense of the play, the fans in the stands, styles of play and other little elements, all of which contribute to the entire phenomena

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Coefficient is a league's winning percentage in the international competition.  If your league's coefficient is high, you get more slots in the international competitions.  For example, the EPL and La Liga each have 4 teams in the champions league.  I think Serie A and Ligue 1 only has 3 teams.  Bundesliga may have 4.  

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This Wikipedia page covers qualifying and coefficients pretty well.

For Group E, I think Moscow is overrated, and Spurs are in easily over Monaco. For H, even with turnover at Sevilla, their competition is a team that finished 30 pts shy of PSG in Ligue 1, and a team that has never won a Champions League match. Short of a complete meltdown, they're good.

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21 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I get the sense this is something of a big deal.

Ahhh, Don, this is probably a rabbit hole you don’t want to dive down!

The English football league system (teams from England, Wales and Guernsey) has 22 interconnected levels, more than 140 leagues containing more than 480 divisions, with more than 7,000 teams.  While obviously only the top handful of levels provide a living salary (what we would consider professional sports), and most of these teams are semi-pro or amateur, all these teams are playing for something:  a trophy, a promotion to a higher level (or league), bragging rights, a pint of beer. 

The Bristol and Avon Association Football League in the lowly 20th level contains 11 teams and dates back to 1910.  Little Stoke United are the current champions. 

Even if we look at just the top 4 levels (the top level or Premiership, contains the big clubs everyone has heard of, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal etc.), and let’s consider these 4 levels are the levels where players are at least hopeful about having a reasonable professional career, we are looking at 92 teams.

And while the Premiership teams clearly have the money and marquee players, they do end up playing lower level teams:  On September 20, Manchester United will play Northhampton Town, who are currently 15th in League One (which is actually the third level in the English system), in a knock-out tournament called the League Cup.

The FA Cup, another knock-out tournament, will started up in November and will feature 736 teams coming from the top 10 levels of English football.  In 2011, Crawley Town FC, then playing in the 5th level National League, played Manchester United at Old Trafford.  Crawley Town lost 1-0, but hit the cross bar in the 93rd minute to almost pull off a dramatic tie, which would have forced a rematch played at Crawley Town.   

Unlike American sports, the European soccer leagues are fluid.  The top teams from each league are promoted up to the next higher level and the bottom teams are relegated to the next lower level.  In 2008/2009, Leicester City were in League One (level 3) and last year they won it all as Champions of the Premier League.

And this is just the English football system.  There’s all the other European League systems (the German football league system has 2,257 division and comprises more than 32,000 teams), continent wide knock out tournaments (later this year Manchester United will travel to the Ukraine to play Zorya Luhansk, last year’s 4th place team in the Ukrainian top league, in the UEFA Europa League), and domestic league cups (Spain’s Copa del Rey was founded in 1903 and this year will feature 83 teams, with Barcelona as the current champions).

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What I would give for there to be promotion/relegation in U.S. pro sports...any of them.  Unfortunately, for tons of reasons, it will never happen.

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22 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Well, I hope to - my goodness this thread was difficult for me to tag.

What is an "association?" There are apparently 55 of them, and Kosovo didn't qualify in their first attempt, so only 54 are represented. Is there a 1-1 correspondence between countries and associations, but each association can have multiple teams, e.g., Reál Madrid and Barcelona?

So first of all, your link above is to the Europa League, which is a continent wide knock-out tournament.  And it appears that is where you are getting your 188 teams from 54 Associations, so in terms of the European Soccer Season, that is incorrect.  Europa League is a second tier season-long continental European soccer tournament, second to The Champions League.  Think of it as the NCAA Basketball Tournament (Champions League) and the NIT (Europa League).  

The term Association Football comes from the mid-1800s.  Basically up until the mid-1800s you have several English sports that were vaguely similar all called football, mostly they were school sports.  The leading schools all got together in a series of meetings to sort out the rules and codify them.  From these meetings Association Football was born, what we now know as football, or soccer, which derived from the word association.  Rugby School didn't like the rules, so they broke off and developed their own rules, which became the sport of Rugby.

Today, association is generally used for the name of the governing body for a country's football system. In England the sport is governed by the Football Association, or The FA.  In Scotland it is the Scottish Football Association, or Scottish FA. The European countries all banned together to form the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), UEFA runs competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League.  And then of course you have FIFA, which is the world-wide governing body and primarily runs the World Cup.        

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Thank you all for taking the time to explain this - I'll try and piece this all together - it's something I've wanted to know about for a long time, and I'm starting with virtually a zero knowledge base.

I did get 3rd place in our 5th-grade Field Day Soccer Kick competition, however. :)

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And actually, what we said above about qualifying is changing in a couple of years.

Right now, the top 3 European leagues each get 3 automatic qualifiers to the Champions League, the 4th best league gets 2 spots, and the next place down in each league goes into the play-in tourney with other European teams. So 11 of the 32 teams are set from the top 4 leagues, with 4 more teams given the chance to qualify.

Starting in 2 years, the top 4 leagues each get 4 automatic qualifiers. So half of the 32-team field will be from those 4 leagues.

This is definitely a move to placate the top 4 leagues, which had been making noises about creating their own super tournament and bowing out of Champions League. And it's obviously a blow to the smaller leagues and teams. OTOH, it's been more than 20 years since a team from outside those 4 leagues won the tournament, and more than 10 years since a team from outside the big 4 even made the semi-finals.

 

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5 hours ago, Tweaked said:

So first of all, your link above is to the Europa League, which is a continent wide knock-out tournament.  And it appears that is where you are getting your 188 teams from 54 Associations, so in terms of the European Soccer Season, that is incorrect. 

[Martin (or any of you others): How do you think this thread should be titled and tagged? I'll erase all this stuff, but I'm in over my head here.]

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I think a title of "2016-2017 European Soccer Season" is good.  And the tags you currently have are all good, they cover the top domestic leagues and the Champions League and Europa League. 

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13 hours ago, Tweaked said:

I think a title of "2016-2017 European Soccer Season" is good.  And the tags you currently have are all good, they cover the top domestic leagues and the Champions League and Europa League. 

[Any way I can eke out a few more words?]

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Still early in the season but two title contenders for the EPL met last week, with Man City beating Man U.  Man City also looks great  in their first group stage game in the Champions League while Man U lost in their first group stage game in the Europa League.

Two other title contenders for the EPL meet this afternoon, with Chelsea taking on Liverpool.  Liverpool looked great crushing Leicester City (the current EPL champ) last week, while Chelsea eeked out a draw against Swansea last week. 

 

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