More national derby games possible when revamped Champions League starts next year

Geneva, July 10 (BNA): The European Football Association (UEFA) said today, Monday, that teams from the same country will have more opportunities to play with each other when the Champions League and other European club competitions are renewed next year.

UEFA has acknowledged that there will be an open draw for the round of 16 without so-called “country protection” and two teams from a higher-ranked country could face each other in the new league stage to “avoid getting stuck in the draw”. .

Currently, teams from the same country are always separated in the traditional group stage and cannot meet in the knockout stage until the quarter-finals, according to the Associated Press.

That changes in 2024-25 when the renamed UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Conference League all move to a 36-team format with a single table.

Teams participating in the Champions League and Europa League will play eight matches in the league stage, which will end in January. Conference league teams will finish in six rounds ending in December.

The additional games, drawn from four ranking pots containing nine teams each, mean that the most successful nations cannot be guaranteed country protection.

Further changes to the traditional appearance of UEFA club competitions are confirmed in the letter.

Teams that make the knockout rounds will be drawn into a seeded bracket like a tennis tournament, separating the first and second seeds through to the final instead of the current system of making a new draw for each round.

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UEFA said this aimed to “enhance synergies between the league and elimination stages and provide more sporting incentives for the league stage”.

The teams that finish top of the 36-team standings will be the top seed and those that finish second to eighth will be seeded accordingly into the Round of 16.

Teams ranked 9th to 16th will be seeded into a new knockout round in February, facing off against unseeded teams finishing 17th to 24th.

The new formats will create more mid-week matches for UEFA and the UEFA Champions League is set to begin with an exclusive week of play from Tuesday to Thursday, 17-19 September 2024.

One week later, the Europa League is set to start its exclusive season on September 25-26. The Conference League will begin on October 3rd and an exclusive game night will take place on December 19th.

The league stages in the first and second levels will continue until January, with the start of the European Champions League in the seventh round, from January 21 to 22, and all teams will qualify for the decisive eighth round on January 29.


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