For the third time this season Champions League Group Stage football is back underway as the best sides in Europe battle it out in the hope of finding themselves playing knockout football. This season has already produced some shock results, notably involving English sides including victory for Galatasary at Old Trafford, Newcastle thrashing PSG as well as a shock defeat in France for Arsenal.
However, next season the Champions League will be changing from how we know it with more teams, more games and a whole new format.
That’s right, in the 2024/25 season the Champions League will be undergoing some structural changes. Currently the competition hosts 32 teams but it will be increasing to 36 teams next season in one big league. The 36 teams will be divided into four pots of nine with each pot ordered 1 to 4 with each side’s coefficient for example, pot 1 will hold the winners of the Champions League as well as eight teams with the best coefficients.
Fans can expect more fixtures as well with each club drawn to play two teams from each pot. This will include four home games and four away games as sides will come up against eight different teams in the group stages rather than playing each side twice. It also allows for teams to be drawn against two other sides in their pot meaning the bigger sides will play some of the other bigger sides before the knockout stages.
From the final table, the top eight will go through to the round of 16 while positions 9 to 24 will be involved in a playoff. Teams from positions 25 to 36 will be eliminated from European competition; there will be no drop down to the Europa League. There will be only one knockout-round draw for the round of 16 onwards with the route a team takes depending on how high the side finishes in the league.
So what’s the reason for this change? The change creates more revenue for sides competing in the Champions League as well as the possibility for more exciting matches. It will also enable fans to see an extra 64 Champions League games next season totalling 189 rather than 125 games while being able to see their own team play two extra games in the group stage. Not to mention, the chance for opponents to play teams of a similar skill-level.
It is an opportunity for the big teams to excel while also giving a chance to the smaller teams while increasing the stature of one of the biggest competitions in world football.
So where do the other four teams come from? Two places will be awarded to the best performing leagues in the current season for example, this would have been Liverpool and Atlanta if the format was in place last season. One place will be awarded to the third placed team from the league that is ranked fifth in the UEFA coefficient and the other placed will be awarded through the qualifying path for champions.
So what do you think? Are you impressed with the new system or do you just want to stick with the old? Football fans around the world will be hoping that it’s a system that will produce thrilling matches as well as a good chance to see their respective teams progress through the tournament. It will be interesting to see how it will pan out and whether or not it is a good move by UEFA.
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