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The soccer news starts with Bayern Munich winning the 2018-19 Bundesliga title. It’s not lost on anybody that this is the season for defending champions retaining their status, with Bayern joining Manchester City, Juventus, PSG, and Barcelona in successful defenses. It’s an interesting situation for Europe, where none of those teams are playing for the Champions League title later this month.

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All this bizarre situation does is underline the issues with inflating the Champions League. The decision to include teams that weren’t champions over 25 years ago is now about guaranteeing as many places as possible for clubs representing Europe’s biggest domestic leagues. Which sort of begs the question, what’s the point when the defending champions of those leagues aren’t playing fr the trophy?

That Spurs and Liverpool finished 3rd and 4th in last season’s Premier League has to resonate widely in the year of the defending champion. Much of the punditry around this season’s Champions League is at treble-winning Manchester City’s expense, but the same basic point holds for all of the league champions. They couldn’t see off two teams that didn’t win the Premier League last season or this season.

Europe’s elite clubs are now pushing for all but closing off the Champions League with a bizarre read on promotion and relegation that would require over a decade to ever implement. That’s on top of the basic issue with imposing promotion and relegation onto the Champions League. UEFA created that opening with their designed from scratch Nations League, but at least the promotion and relegation structure makes some sense. Not applied to actual nations, but still. Now, it’s the Champions League facing an unwanted and unnecessary change for anybody not an owner or employee of the clubs involved.

That’s the biggest takeaway from the domestic seasons in Europe. Another round of wondering what’s really going on with the game’s elite.

Yahoo’s Leander Schaerlaeckens sees the bigger picture in what’s happening with UEFA and Manchester City. The Irish Times’ Ken Early makes it plain why so many have an issue with Manchester City. The NY Times’ Tariq Panja interviews UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson uses City’s win to make the case for the super league. The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter explains what another Premier League team winning the Champions League means for Manchester City’s treble. The Independent’s Jonathan Liew takes issue with pundits clearly and openly supporting teams.

Goal’s Ives Galarcep looks at Chris Wondolowski setting the new mark for all-time MLS goals scored. The Athletic’s Matt Pentz on Wondolowski’s career. American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta explains Tyler Boyd’s switch of national team to the USMNT.

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Logo courtesy of Bayern Munich

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