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Sturm Graz as “guinea pig” in the new Champions League

Sturm Graz as “guinea pig” in the new Champions League

Image: GEPA pictures

UEFA has overhauled the premier class as well as the Europa League and Conference League. The changes are intended to create more excitement and guarantee significantly increased revenues in the billions, but many people will probably have to get used to them at first.

  • also read: Pure disappointment at Dortmund: “It’s brutal”

The field of participants in the Champions League will be increased by four teams to 36 teams. Two of these places will go to associations whose teams have performed best collectively in the current European Cup season according to the annual rankings. Italy and Germany thus secured a fifth starting place. Borussia Dortmund, as fifth in the German Bundesliga, had therefore already qualified for the Champions League before the final and the defeat against Real Madrid.

Groups are eliminated

The biggest difference from before is that the groups of four have been eliminated. Instead, an overall table of all 36 teams decides who advances. Each team plays eight main round games, two more than in the previous format. The clubs face eight different opponents in four home and four away games.

Similar to the previous situation, there will be a draw before the start of the season, in which the clubs will be placed in four pots of nine teams each, depending on their strength. Each club will be assigned two opponents per pot – including two from their own. This means that top duels between European football heavyweights such as Manchester City, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich can take place in the main round. It is not possible for two teams from the same country to be drawn against each other. The Europa League also has eight main round match days, while the Conference League has six.

Revenues increase

There are more matches and revenues are increasing. UEFA is expecting a total of 4.4 billion euros per season for all competitions. The continental association is also hoping for greater fan interest in the first phase, because top matches are also on the cards. UEFA is also counting on more excitement, because the place in the play-offs and the position in the knockout phase will now be open more often until the last matchday of the regular season. Sturm will most likely be in pot four when the draw is made in August.

The first eight teams are guaranteed qualification for the round of 16. Eight knockout matches are drawn between the clubs in positions 9 to 24 in the table, taking their ranking into account. After the home and away matches, it is then clear who will complete the round of 16. The next draw will take place there, always taking the table from the first phase into account. The round of 16 draw will determine the entire path to the final. The first and second placed teams from the preliminary round can only meet in the final.

No more transition

Unlike the old format, there is no transition between the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. For the teams that do not make it to the knockout phases and the round of 16, the international season is over.

In addition, due to the increase in competitions and the new format, there are more weeks of European Cup: the Champions League and Europa League begin in September, with the main round match days seven and eight starting in January. On the last match day, all 18 matches will kick off at the same time for fair play reasons. The first knockout phase in the three competitions will take place in February, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals from March to May.

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