The Hard Tackle explains the new UEFA Champions League model set to kick off from the 2024/25 season.
The idea of the 2021 European Super League took European football by storm last year, as no less than twelve European giants issued a statement, citing their desire to break away from the UEFA Champions League and create their own model that protects some of the underperformers. teams.
The ESL idea was quickly condemned by football authority, with FIFA even threatening to ban players participating in ESL from international competitions. More importantly, the idea was met with heavy criticism from fans, forcing the majority of clubs, including Arsenal and Chelsea, to back down.
The idea of the Super League didn’t sit well with the participants, with the twelve clubs even being considered the “dirty dozen” by fans. However, the seemingly rebellious nature of the idea forced UEFA to quickly find the solution and in May 2021 they announced the introduction of the new Champions League format which is set to kick off from the 2024 campaign. /25.
As the debate over the European Super League resurfaces once again in the world of football, now may be the perfect time for fans to get to grips with the new Champions League format, and here at The Hard Tackle, we will explain the smallest details of the wish new format of the prestigious tournament.
36 teams to participate
One of the main changes introduced in the new system is the total number of participants. According to the current model, there are a total of 32 teams in the Champions League. But that number is set to be increased to 36, with UEFA announcing four new places in their revered competition.
What has really caused controversy is how the four spots are to be assigned. Without reverting to the usual formula of selecting the best candidates from the league rankings by UEFA coefficient, European football’s governing body has announced a new formula, with one of the places to be allocated to the fifth league of the national championship. classification of associations.
This essentially means Ligue 1 should be given another spot, putting it on par with the Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, each of which has four Champions League places.
Another place will be reserved for the team that performed well in the last Champions League season, but would normally be invited to progress in the qualifying rounds the following season. Ajax, for example, had reached the semi-finals of the 2018/19 campaign but had to go through two qualifying stages to reach the main stage of the 2019/20 campaign.
Two remaining places are much more controversial than the others, as they are essentially awarded to underachieving giants of European football, serving more or less as a safety net. Indeed, the two places will be allocated to the two best ranked teams of the UEFA Club Ranking Coefficientwho failed to finish in the Champions League places in the previous domestic campaign but managed to clinch a European spot.
For example, if Manchester United fail to make the Premier League’s top four this season but finish fifth, sixth or even seventh, they could qualify for the Champions League next season, under the new rules. That’s simply because the Red Devils are currently ninth in the club table, higher than any other club excluding those almost destined to finish in the top four of Europe’s five elite leagues.
Group stage removed
If the controversial list of new entrants wasn’t enough, UEFA also decided to abolish the group stage system, in favor of a single big ranking, with the top four earning automatic entry into the round of 16 while teams finishing 9th through 24th (16 in total) will face off in a separate knockout round. The eight winning teams will advance to the Round of 16, after which the competition will retain its current form.
However, it is in the championship phase that things get complicated. Instead of playing just six games in total, each club will play ten games against ten different oppositions. Five of them will be home fixtures, while five will take place at away venues. With 36 teams competing, the exact opponents of a particular team will be based on the UEFA ranking system.
Also known as the ‘Swiss model’, this new system was put in place to guarantee more matches for Europe’s top clubs, which would result in increased TV revenue. Furthermore, it would give clubs the opportunity to face a range of opponents and test their mettle against a variety of clubs across the continent, rather than facing three teams twice in the group stage.
The Swiss model also leads to risk aversion since the current system eliminates 16 of the 32 participants after the group stage. Under the new system, only twelve teams, finishing 25th to 36th, will be eliminated after the league stage.
The introduction of the league system means that the biggest clubs will have more time to recover from a difficult start to the campaign while having an additional opportunity to reach the knockout stages, even if they do not finish among the top teams. first eight.
The positive points
The new Champions League model guarantees a significant number of matches for each participant, thereby increasing revenue. This could be hugely useful for clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Ajax or Bayern Munich, who are heavily dependent on performance-related income and don’t have a sole owner pumping millions into the club.
The opportunity to face an array of opponents across the continent is always an exciting prospect not only for players but also for fans. The new model also guarantees more hit fixtures and eliminates dead rubber matches, as each result could have a significant impact on the league standings.
The new model has come under heavy criticism over its implication of rewarding underperforming teams, granting them direct entry into the competition. This could unfairly benefit inconsistent clubs like Arsenal or Tottenham while forcing smaller European clubs like Sheriff Tiraspol or BATE Borisov to play in the second tier tournament like the UEFA Europa League.
On that note, the new system should drastically reduce the chances of miracles such as Ajax reaching the semi-finals in the 2018/19 campaign or RB Leipzig reaching the same stage in 2019/20, as achieving such a feat would require a lot more. consistency.
While we may still see some upheaval, the structure unfairly rewards the bigger teams and could make the tournament much more predictable than it already is.