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‘They have to protect players’ – Koeman slams new UCL plans

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Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has criticised UEFA for their expanded Champions League plans.

In the aftermath of the failed European Super League, UEFA has announced a new format for its famed competition.

The proposals see teams increased from 32 to 36 and matches rise from 125 to 225.

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That will likely create a major headache for domestic leagues and cups as they try to fit in games.

Barcelona were one of the 12 teams who attempted to break away and form the ESL.

The league is now in ruin after all six Premier League sides left.

Koeman thinks the new Champions League format, in addition to the ESL, doesn’t protect players.

He said (via ESPN): “It’s unbelievable what players need to play in the last few years in all competitions.

“Everybody is talking about a Super League or a [new] Champions League or a different way of playing in Europe.

“UEFA is talking a lot, but it is not doing or listening to the football people, not the managers or the players, about the number of games. Most important for them is the money.

“Even in Spain, the number of games we need to play – tomorrow we play at 10pm – all of that is not always in a positive way for the players.

“I think that’s the most important. It’s normal to think about the future of football but first of all they have to protect the players.”

Last season, Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Gerard Pique played 45 games or more.

Top teams are having to build bigger squads to compete in a host of competitions, which is only going to be worsened by the Champions League plans.

Manchester City are in a similar position. They were competing on four fronts prior to their FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.

Luckily, Pep Guardiola has great resources and a hugely talented squad. But others aren’t so lucky.

In the Premier League, Liverpool, Southampton and Everton have all been badly affected by injuries.

Liverpool’s defence in particular has looked sparse at times. Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have all spent time on the sidelines.

With more games planned for the next few seasons, it’s likely that the amount of injuries will only increase.

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