By DAN KARELL
Qualification for the 2016 European Championship in France will have a new look to it.
Taking advantage of the longer FIFA international breaks at use, UEFA is set to debut their initiative called “week of football” which will see Euro 2016 qualification matches played over a series of three days. The strategy is being used by UEFA to allow more people to watch the qualifying matches, as opposed to staging all of them on two days during each international break.
“The fact we spread the European qualifiers over several days as opposed to all teams playing on the same day will ensure a better visibility for the competition,” UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said in a statement. “Each day of the ‘Week of Football’ will have eight to ten matches as opposed to 20–30 matches on the same day.”
In addition, with the increase to 24 teams from 16 in Euro 2016, the qualification campaign will see the nine group winners, nine runners-up, and the third-place team with the best record automatically qualify for the tournament. The rest of the third-placed teams will play each other in the playoff round for the right to compete at the tournament.
Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:
SHERWOOD LOSES FIRST GAME AS TOTTENHAM INTERIM MANAGER
Tottenham is having to endure one of the more embarrassing weeks in recent memory after being knocked out of the English League Cup.
In Tim Sherwood’s first game as head coach replacing the fired Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham lost at home, 2-1, to their London rivals West Ham United. Tottenham took the lead in the 67th minute through Emmanuel Adebayor, but Matt Jarvis and Modibo Maiga scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the match to advance to the semifinals next month, where they’ll face Manchester City.
It’s the second consecutive home defeat for Tottenham after Liverpool routed them, 5-0, on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the League Cup, Manchester United advanced to face Sunderland after defeating Stoke City, 2-0, in difficult conditions at the Britannia Stadium.
SOUTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONS KNOCKED OUT OF CLUB WORLD CUP
For the first time in the FIFA Club World Cup’s current format, there will only be one continental champion playing in the final.
While European champions Bayern Munich progressed to the final with ease against Asian title winners Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday, Copa Libertadores champions Atletico Mineiro were unceremoniously bounced from the competition, 3-1, by Moroccan champions Raja Casablanca, which will now meet Bayern in the final on Saturday.
After Mouhssine Iajour put Raja on the board in the 51st minute, Atletico’s Ronaldinho produced one of his classic free kicks, beautifully curling the ball over and around the wall, pinging it off the post to tie the match in the 64th minute. But Atletico’s defensive problems flared up late as Rever conceded a penalty kick that Mohsine Moutouali scored in the 84th minute. Vianney Mabidé scored one more for the hosts in the 94th minute to put the match away.
Andres Iniesta has agreed a new contract with Barcelona that will keep him with the club until June 2018, when he’ll be 34 years old. (REPORT)
After seeing its success in leagues like MLS and at the Club World Cup, FIFA has approved the use of vanishing spray for referees to use to mark off 10 yards for walls to be formed on free kicks. (REPORT)
Borussia Dortmund has signed 17-year-old Japanese talent Mitsuru Maruoka on a two-year loan deal from Shinji Kagawa’s former club Cezero Osaka. (REPORT)
Arsenal is keeping an eye on Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa as he has a $52 million release clause in his contract. (REPORT)
Bayer Leverkusen continues to be linked with a January signing of Kevin De Bruyne, who hasn’t found a starting place at Chelsea this season. (REPORT)
What do you think of these developments? Like the “week of football” idea? Think that Sherwood could lose his job after one match? Surprised that Atletico Mineiro didn’t make the Club World Cup final?
Share your thoughts below.