By ROB HARRIS
AP Global Soccer Writer
VIENNA (AP) — A scaled-back first phase to the expanded Champions League has been approved by UEFA to quell a backlash around Europe. The reformatted group stage has been reduced from 10 rounds to eight and the backup places for teams based on historical performance have been removed. The stage will still grow from 32 to 36 teams based around a single standings rather than eight groups. Weeks of talks produced the revised format that will see two additional places in the expanded format awarded to the two countries with the highest UEFA ranking based on their teams’ results in European competitions the previous season.