Sports News in Brief: Road to Champions League just got harder for Danish teams

Elsewhere, Wozzie usurped, Thomas Bjørn makes golf history and Danes disappoint at the Winter Games

It’s bad news for FC Midtjylland, FC Copenhagen, Brøndby and the rest of the Superliga teams vying for a place in the Champions League group stage in the future.

The European footballing body UEFA has ushered in a change that will increase the number of teams that qualify directly for the group stage from 22 to 26. Clubs from smaller footballing nations, like Denmark, will now have even greater difficulty in reaching the lucrative group stage.

Conversely, the move increasingly favours the big leagues in Europe, which will see more of their teams automatically qualify for the main tournament due to their higher placement in the UEFA co-efficient rankings.

READ MORE: Danish football association blasts new Champions League changes

Six spots left
The new format, which will come into effect next season, will see Spain, England, Germany and Italy have four teams directly qualify for the group stage, while France and Russia will have two teams directly qualify.

Additionally, the league winners in Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium and Turkey will also directly qualify, as will the previous winners of the Champions League and the Europa League – leaving just six spots available to secure via the qualification rounds.

UEFA also decided to change the kick-off times for the Champions League fixtures from the traditional 20:45 to early and late kick-off times at 18:55 and 21:00.

Olympics a Danish disappointment
According to Team Denmark, the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea this month has been a disappointment in terms of Danish performances. Outside the fifth and 13th places for mass start speedskaters Viktor Hald Thorup and Stefan Due Schmidt, there wasn’t much to write home about. Both curling teams finished last and the Danish skiers also struggled. Denmark’s biggest medal hope, Elena Møller Rigas, didn’t even make the final in the mass start speedskating event. “We need to face the fact that we aren’t a winter sports nation,” said Team Denmark head Lone Hansen.

Bjørn makes golf equality history
For the first time ever, a mixed-pairing will be permitted to compete at the GolfSixes tournament on the European Tour this year. The Danish Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn will be part of making history as he teams up with Scotland’s Catriona Matthew. The pair will be vying at Centurion Club in St Albans, England to take on a field that includes the defending Danish GolfSixes champs Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen.

Wozzie deposed as number 1
Barely a month after beating Simona Halep at the Australian Open to claim her first grand slam title, Caroline Wozniacki has been usurped by the Romanian as number one in the WTA world rankings. The Dane dropped into second place with 7,525 points, well behind Halep’s 7,965. Garbiñe Muguruza is third with 6,175 points, followed by Elina Svitolina (5,480) and Karolína Plísková (5,080).

Danes pedal to Belgian glory
It was a good start to the cycling season for Danish cycling last weekend as Danes won both the men’s and women’s races at the Belgian cobblestone classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Michael Valgren (Astana) triumphed in the men’s race, while Christina Siggaard (Virtu Cycling Women – Bjarne Riis’s new team) took the honours in the women’s edition. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first World Tour race of the year.

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