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Open Thread: February 17, 2021

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Another issue of the Daily Merengue!

Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail or Oscnar.

Hazard recovery going better than expected.

José Luis Sánchez reported that “Hazard is recovering fast and should be back in the team soon, he’s very committed. He is already running with the ball 12 days after his injury and he has lost 4 KG in weight”. With his injury history with Madrid so far it’s easy to give up on the player but lets have a little faith and keep our fingers crossed that he can play a big role in the business end of the season.

The Santiago Bernabéu of the 21st century.

The club put out a video showing the progress of work on the roof of our hallowed ground. I think I speak for all Madridistas when I say that I can’t wait to see the team in action in the New Bernabeu. Take a look at the video below.

Champions League continues while Europa League also returns.

Yesterday’s action saw PSG thrash Barcelona 4-1 in the 1st leg at the Camp Nou with a glorious hatrick from Kylian Mbappe. Some might say he was auditioning for Real Madrid while Jorge Valdano doesn’t seem to think that’s the case as highlighted in this article by Matt Wiltse. The other game featured Liverpool capitalizing on two defensive errors to beat Leipzig 2-0. New Bayern signing Upamecano was really found wanting on this goal.

Juventus take on Porto today while Sevilla are up against Dortmund. Europa league round of 32 action also returns with Manchester United vs Real Sociedad and Arsenal vs Benfica being the games to watch out for.

UEFA has plan for expanded Champions League with new format.

UEFA is preparing a significant expansion of the Champions League with a proposal for four additional group-stage rounds and backup slots for elite clubs who fail to qualify through domestic competitions.

The overhaul is UEFA’s strategy to rebuff plans to launch a largely closed breakaway competition — which has been pushed by Barcelona and Real Madrid — and maintain qualification through domestic leagues.

UEFA’s proposal is to increase the number of group-stage participants from 32 to 36, with each team guaranteed 10 rather than six games, three people familiar with the plans told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss plans not publicly disclosed.

The European Leagues organization could resist the jump from six to 10 games in the group stage because of the struggle to fit in extra games in the congested calendar. But European Leagues chairman Lars-Christer Olsson in December showed a willingness to back the plan.

“I think it could be possible to squeeze another four dates into the calendar,” he said.

Breakaway league plans have often been leaked in the past 20 years when clubs have wanted Champions League changes in their favour.

The proposed changes could guarantee both UEFA and clubs increased TV revenues and prize money as it would produce 180 group-stage games to sell to broadcasters instead of 96.