New UEFA Champions League format explained

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The 2024/25 Champions League season will take a new shape following changes announced by UEFA on Monday. 

There will be more teams, which translates to more matches, spread over a longer period of time. 

We take a look at some of the changes to expect. 

How will the 2024/25 competition change?

The competition is set to change from the current format, which starts with 32 teams in the group stage, divided into eight groups of four teams each. 

This is set to change through under the new format as there will be a single league made up of all 36 competing clubs. 

Teams will play four matches more than is currently the case, and will not play three opponents twice – home and away.

Instead, teams will play against 10 different teams, half of them at home and half of them away. 

The new format should mean that there is more to play for right up until the final night of league action.

How will the four additional spots be allocated?

The additional four slots available in 2024/25 will be allocated according to three different criteria:

Slot one: awarded to a club from the country placed fifth in UEFA’s national association coefficient rankings. Each association’s coefficient is based on the results of its clubs’ performances in five previous Champions League and Europa League seasons.

Slot two: awarded to the domestic league champion with the highest club coefficient among all other domestic champions that have not automatically qualified for the Champions League’s league stage.

Slots three and four: awarded to the two clubs with the highest club coefficients that have not qualified automatically for the Champions League’s league stage, but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase or the Europa League/the Europa Conference League (due to start in the 2021/22 season).

How will the last 16 take shape?

The results of each match will decide the overall ranking in the new league, with three points for a win and one for a draw still applying

While the top eight teams will advance automatically to the round of 16, those sides placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round.

Those who finished between ninth and 16th will be seeded in the play-off draw, meaning they will face a team placed 17th to 24th – with home advantage in the second-leg match.

Teams who finish 25th or lower will be eliminated, with no access to the UEFA Europa League.
The eight clubs who prevail in the playoffs will then progress to the round of 16 where they will each face one of the top-eight finishers.

Europa League

In addition to the Champions League, both the Europa League and the all-new Europa Conference League – due to kick off in the 2021/22 season – will also evolve to replace their group stage with a single league.

The new format can be adapted as needed to each competition, both in terms of the number of teams and the number of matches.

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