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Page 55 stories UEFA consider Champions League new format The Champions League may feature fewer teams in the group stages under proposals being considered by…

Page 55 stories

UEFA consider Champions League new format

The Champions League may feature fewer teams in the group stages under proposals being considered by UEFA.

One suggestion is for more knockout rounds, leading to two ‘super-league’ groups of eight teams – the current format features eight groups of four.

A spokesman told the Guardian UEFA was in “constant contact” with clubs but “no concrete proposals” were in place.

The current structure is unlikely to change under the present TV rights deal, which runs to the end of 2017-18.

The Champions League replaced the European Cup, which was a straight knockout competition, in 1992.

There are currently three qualifying rounds and a play-off round, all played over two legs, then the group stage which features 32 teams divided into eight groups, with the top two in each group advancing to the knockout round of 16.

The European Clubs’ Association, led by former West Germany international striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has held discussions regarding a tournament consisting of 20 teams from Italy, England, Spain, Germany and France.

Inter Milan chief executive Michael Bolingbroke told the BBC this week that he saw merit in the idea of Champions League wildcards for teams that have not qualified through their league position.

Curry, Thompson break open close game

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 18 third-quarter points, allowing the Golden State Warriors to break open a close game en route to a 114-98 victory over the rival Los Angeles Clippers.

In recording their sixth consecutive win over the Clippers, the Warriors (64-7) completed their first 4-0 season-series sweep of Los Angeles since the 1985-86 season while going 57 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history.

Curry (four) and Thompson (seven) combined for 11 3-pointers as the Warriors moved within eight wins of the Chicago Bulls’ all-time single-season record for wins with 11 games to go.

Curry, hitting 12 of 23 from the field, finished with a game-high 33 points. Thompson had 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting, helping Golden State win its 51st straight at home, 33 of which have come this season.

The victory allowed the Warriors to remain four games up on the San Antonio Spurs (60-11) in the battle for top seeding in the Western Conference playoffs.

Draymond Green complemented the shooting efforts of Curry and Thompson with 12 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

Harrison Barnes (11) and Shaun Livingston (11) also scored in double figures for the Warriors, who shot almost as well on 3-pointers (44.1 percent) as on 2-pointers (45.3 percent).

DeAndre Jordan amassed 19 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers. Los Angeles (43-27) lost a half-game to the idle Memphis Grizzlies (41-31) in their duel for the fourth position in the Western playoff race.

The double-figure scoring night for Jordan was his 12th in a row, which equals a career best.

Klitschko hopes to box for gold in Rio

Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko hopes to box for a second Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, if the timing of his rematch against Tyson Fury allows.

Hamburg-based Klitschko turns 40 on Friday and would relish the chance to box for more Olympic medals having won the Super heavyweight gold for Ukraine at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Professional boxers are set to be eligible to compete at the Rio Olympic Games this August under radical proposals being pushed through by the world governing body, AIBA, and set to be voted on in June.

But Klitschko, who has won 64 of his 68 bouts since turning professional in 1996, says his priority is to win back the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF belts he lost on points to Britain’s Fury in Duesseldorf last November.

A date for their rematch has yet to be confirmed.

“I think it’s right that professional boxers be allowed to compete (in Rio), but it’s not a foregone conclusion that it’ll happen,” Klitschko told SID, an AFP subsidiary.

“I am convinced a lot of pro fighters will have difficulties dealing with the style of the amateurs. My first task is the rematch against Fury. If it fits into my time plan, I’m not ruling out a start at the Rio Olympics. If it’s allowed, I’ll be there’” he said.

Wiggins backs Cavendish for Rio Olympics

Sir Bradley Wiggins says Mark Cavendish will make Great Britain’s track team for the Olympic Games in August.

Cavendish is not guaranteed his place but Wiggins told BBC Radio 5 live he is “the right man to ride the omnium”.

Wiggins added: “I think Mark will be in Rio and I want him there.

“The Olympics is the one that it’s really about for him. Once he gets given the green light for that, his performance will go up again because he’s got nothing to lose.”

Cavendish intends to combine his dream of winning Olympic gold for the first time with his glittering career on the road.

In the build-up to Rio, the 30-year-old from the Isle of Man intends to ride in the Tour de France again with the hope of adding to his 26 stage wins in the race.

Wiggins, who won the Tour de France in 2012 and is also an Olympic champion on both the road and the track, says Cavendish will make sure he does what is right to achieve success in Brazil.

“Mark is a special character and he needs to be given freedom to do it his way,” said Wiggins, who partnered Cavendish to Madison gold at the Track World Championships last month.

“He’ll do what he thinks is best for him and I think he’ll think that riding the Tour de France for his fitness will be better for him for the omnium.”

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