Champions League begins with new look and format on the horizon

This week, we not only say hello to the UEFA Champions League group stage. We also say goodbye. After this season, the UEFA Champions League group stage is undergoing a major overhaul. The new ‘Swiss model‘ format replaces the traditional group stage. Therefore, the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League is the end of an era in Europe’s premier club competition.

Since the 2003-04 campaign, the Champions League consisted of a group stage involving 32 teams drawn into eight groups of four teams. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stages. This format succeeded the second group stage phase that was in place from 1999 to 2003. The round-robin group stage has provided many iconic moments over the years. Clubs from England, Spain, Italy and Germany dominated this phase. The biggest criticism of the current format has been the lack of jeopardy in later group stage matches as the top teams often qualify early.

UEFA Champions League embracing new format after this season

From 2024-25 onward, the UEFA Champions League will have 36 teams in one single league. Organizers draw clubs into four seeding pots. Then, they play two teams from each pot in a single league table.

Therefore, each club plays eight matches, four home and four away. It is worth noting that these matchups are not the same teams. Instead, the Swiss model ensures each team plays eight group-stage games against eight different opponents.

All 36 teams will battle in one unified league table. Only the top 8 teams advance directly to the last 16. Clubs finishing between ninth and 24th position compete in a two-legged playoff to determine the remaining 8 spots in the last 16. No teams will drop into the Europa League at this stage.

The knockout stage will retain its current two-legged format. However, there are proposals to eventually replace the semi-finals with a ‘Final Four’ tournament in one host city. Again, those are just rumblings. For at least the 2024/25…

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Author : Ed Perovic

Publish date : 2023-09-19 14:37:11

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