Football: How the Champions League will work in the new season

Football: How the Champions League will work in the new season

The old format of the Champions League is history. Next season, there will be even more games and five German representatives in Europe’s premier class.

After the final defeat at Wembley, Eintracht Frankfurt is also mourning Borussia Dortmund. Because BVB lost, the Hessian Bundesliga club will not receive an additional starting place in the Champions League for the coming season. Eintracht will have to make do with the Europa League. Champions Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig are in the Champions League alongside BVB.

Europe’s premier class, like the Europa League and Conference League, will be played in a new format in the new season. UEFA hopes that this will create more excitement and guarantee significantly increased revenues in the billions, but many will initially have to get used to it.

How many teams will compete in the premier class in the future?

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 performed best collectively in the current European Cup season. Italy and Germany secured a fifth starting place for 2024/25 via the annual rankings. This is why BVB, as fifth in the Bundesliga, was already safely qualified for the Champions League before the final against Real Madrid.

What will the schedule look like in the future?

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

How are the opponents determined?

As before, 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.

What does UEFA hope to achieve with the new format?

There are more matches and revenues are increasing. UEFA is expecting a total of 4.4 billion euros per season for all European cup competitions. The continental association is also hoping for greater fan interest in the first phase, because there are also top matches. UEFA is also counting on more excitement, because now more often the place in the playoffs and the position in the knockout phase are open until the last match day of the main round.

And what happens next in the knockout phase?

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.

What else is new?

Unlike before, there is no transition between the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. For 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, for reasons of fair play – similar to the Bundesliga final – all 18 matches will kick off at the same time. The first knockout phase in the three competitions will take place in February, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals as well as the finals from March to May.

Source: Stern

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