Wednesday April 22nd, 2015

UEFA, Europe’s governing soccer body, has changed its seeding for the Champions League and will now reward domestic league winners, reports the Associated Press.

The seeding will be as follows: the top-seeded teams in each of the eight groups will consist of the defending Champions League winner plus winning clubs in the seven highest-ranked countries (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia).

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If the current Champions League winner also wins its domestic title, the eighth-highest seeded team will be the Eredivisie (Netherlands) titleholder. This season that would be PSV Eindhoven.

The new seeding changes eliminates the current format, which ranked teams by whoever has the highest ranking in a five-year results cycle through all UEFA competitions.

When the 2015-16 Champions League group stage draw is held on Aug. 27, the new system should elevate league-leading Juventus (Serie A) and Zenit St. Petersburg (Russian Football Premier League) plus the Ligue 1 champion. Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain are currently tied for the lead in France’s top league.

Arsenal, Atlético Madrid and Porto, who all qualified for this season’s Champions League, would drop in status when the draw is announced barring a turn of fortune in their respective domestic leagues.

Real Madrid would also drop down if Barcelona ends up winning the Champions League and Spanish league. Barcelona advanced to the Champions League semifinals by ousting PSG on Tuesday. Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid square off in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, with the series level at 0-0.

- Scooby Axson

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