UEFA Champions League format to change for 24/25 season: groups, knockout, league table

Everything you need to know on the new UCL format for the 24/25 season.


Here’s a guide to the new format of the Champions League, which starts in the 24/25 season.

And before you start, I already know what you’re going to say.

We’ve not even started this year’s Champions League, Joe, so why are you talking about next year?

Hear me out. Things are going to massively change for the Champions League from next year onwards, so this is simply a handy guide so you don’t go into the new-new season completely blind. Fine, be mad at me, but just make sure you bookmark it for later.

If you stumbled across this wanting the 23/24 Champions League explainer, travel back in time and check it out.

How does the Champions League work now?

On Thursday 31 August 2023, UEFA conducted the annual Group Stage draw for the UEFA Champions League, and it left us with the usual gang of 32 teams in 8 groups of 4. Oh, how things used to be...

As you know, the normal format of the Champions League is that every team plays their group opponents twice, once home and once away. The top two teams of each group go through to the Round of 16 and so on, with the third teams dropping into the Europa League where they wait for Sevilla to win.

How many teams are in the new Champions League format?

However, that is all about to change. The new format for the UEFA Champions League is as follows: there is no group stage, no group of death, just a simple league table of not 32, but 36 teams.

To sort out who plays who, the teams will be split into four pots of nine: Pot 1 will have the titleholders of the Champions League and the eight clubs with the best coefficients, meaning that league winners status is no longer enough to be in Pot 1.

Manchester City won last season's edition of the Champions League.OLI SCARFFAFP

How does the league format work in Champions League?

There will be eight games for each club, four at home and four away.

The group stage will now finish at the end of January, instead of December. At the end of the 8 rounds, the top 8 teams will qualify directly to the Round of 16.

The teams from 9th to 24th place will play in a two-legged round of 32 and the remaining teams will be eliminated.

Why is it called ‘the Swiss model’?

It’s to do with Chess. Yes, really. In a Swiss-system tournament used in chess, players are placed into a league table and they don’t play every other player in the standings, just a select few. The same thing is now set to happen in the Champions League.

Will the teams be seeded for the fixture list draw?

What will be a new change for the 24/25 shakeup will be that teams from the top pot will face teams from the same pot as them. FC Bayern, for example, in pot one, normally reserved for league champions, cannot play against another Pot 1 team this year.

However, next year, they would face two teams from Pot 1, two from Pot 2, two from Pot 3 and two from Pot 4, guaranteeing early games against the top teams. God save us if a minnow makes it to the semi-final - that would be awful, right, UEFA?

Why have UEFA changed the format?

The new format, according to UEFA, is “designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders. Unequivocally confirming joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent, the common purpose has also been to sustain domestic leagues.”

In other words, money.

The final for the 2024-25 Champions League is set to be hosted at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 31 May 2025.

What about the Europa League and Conference League?

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop with the UCL. Both competitions will also move to the Swiss Model as of 2024, and their capacity will increase from 32 to 36, just like in the Champions League. There will be eight group-stage games in the Europa League, but only six in the Europa Conference League.

Most viewed

More news