The UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday 6th of September and the quest for European domination has begun. This year's edition promises to be as exciting as any other but the presence of a winter World Cup means that football’s most prestigious Club competition will take a back seat to the first ever Winter World Cup.
This is because the average maximum daytime temperature in July is around 42°C which is considered too hot to play football or even watch it, so the decision was made to move the competition from the usual summer period to later in the calendar year where the temperatures are conducive.
The presence of this tournament has meant that domestic Leagues around the world have had to tweak and condense their schedules in order to play a decent amount of games in time for the World Cup and the UEFA Champions League is no different.
Rather than the regular two-week gap between European games, the Champions League fixtures will occur on a weekly basis either side of the international break. This means that Club sides participating in the UEFA Champions League will play a game every three days until matchday four with the Champions League fixtures giving way to mid-week League matches- much to the chagrin of the club Managers.
Tight schedule causes complaints
Before his team’s UEFA Champions League opener against Marseille on November 7th, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte complained about the schedule and expressed his displeasure that his players have to play so many times. "Now we are playing after four days, but we are starting to play again three important games against Marseille in the Champions League, City away and Sporting CP away.
"I think maybe this is the first time in my career to see a schedule like this. Honestly, I try to check the schedule of the other teams and I have seen that in this situation Tottenham are penalized a lot," the Italian said.
November and December are usually pivotal months in a Champions League campaign where the fates of so many teams are decided but those pivotal fixtures have been moved to late October and early November. This is to make sure the group phases of the Champions League are complete before November 14th, which is the deadline for European clubs to release players to their national teams for the World Cup which begins a week later.
This is how the 2022/23 Champions League have adjusted their fixtures in order to accommodate the Qatar World Cup:
Champions League group stage fixtures
Matchday 1: 6/7 September (Already played)
Matchday 2: 13/14 September
Matchday 3: 4/5 October
Matchday 4: 11/12 October
Matchday 5: 25/26 October
Matchday 6: 1/2 November
2022/23 Champions League Round of 16 draw: Monday 7 November
The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar on the 21st of November 2022 with hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador and will end on Sunday 18th December with the World Cup final.
When the tournament is over players are given a short break before returning to their clubs to continue their respective club schedules. The last 16 of the Champions League will begin in the middle of February.