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How Will the Europa Conference League Affect the Champions League and Europa League?

Nigel is a football (soccer) fan since his childhood days. He also plays football as a left-back and is a long-time fan of Liverpool Fc.

The 3 major competitions of UEFA

The 3 major competitions of UEFA

Background of the Existing Competitions

European Football, as dubbed by the mass media, is an annual event where professional football (soccer) clubs from the top European leagues get together and compete for the Champions League, Europa League or the new Europa Conference League. Where clubs compete depends on where they finished in their domestic leagues.

The Champions League (formerly known as the European Cup until 1992) was first conceived in 1955 and secured its place as the top European club competition to enter. The Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup until 2009) was first created in 1971. It established itself as the second division of the competition. There is now a new addition to the party, the Europa Conference League, which aims to improve lower-ranked teams in the confederation.

A New Competition

The Europa Conference League was in the books as early as 2015, when UEFA considered adding another competition to make a three-tier tournament where promotion and relegation exists. However, it was made into a reality in the year 2019, when UEFA announced the official name of the competition. On May 24th, 2021, the competition received its trophy and identity.

UEFA Coefficient Ratings

understanding-the-landscape-of-european-club-football-competition

This list may be a little too long, so to summarize it, it is a ranking system for national teams in the European Union to decide where teams, both club and national teams, land in their respective competitions. In this article, we will focus on the Men's Association coefficient to see where it ranks club teams.

Men's Association coefficient is ranked based on the previous performance and results of the club in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, where there is a point system. Winning a match gets the team two points, drawing the match gets one point and losing gets zero points.

In order to determine the association's coefficient for one season, the results and performances of the club for the past five seasons are collected and added in as bonus points. Bonus points can only be received if the team:

  1. Reached the quarterfinal, semifinal or final of both the leagues. They will receive one bonus point.
  2. Qualified for the group stages of the Champions League, which gives them four bonus points.
  3. Qualified for the round of 16 in the Champions League, which gives them five bonus points.

UEFA uses this coefficient system to determine which teams get automatic entry into the competition's group stage (often for the higher ranked teams) or which teams must go through the preliminary qualifying stages of the competition (often lower ranked teams).

How Does Qualification to the Europa Conference League Work?

The qualification to join the Europa Conference League is similar to the other two competitions. Which team is able to join depends on their coefficient ranking in the UEFA system stated below:

  • Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have 1 team participating.
  • Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have 2 teams participating.
  • Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have 3 teams participating.
  • Nations ranked 51 to 55 will have 2 teams participating.
  • Liechtenstein will have the winner of the Liechtenstein Football Cup join the competition.

To put it into a summarized format, we will only be looking at the stages from group stage onward.

The group stage will have 32 teams divided into 8 groups. There will be 5 winners of the playoff stage for the Champions path. The 17 winners of the playoff stage for the non-champions path will be joined by the 10 teams eliminated from the Europa League playoff round. Winners of the group stage will automatically proceed to the knockout phase. Runners-up will enter a playoff stage.

The playoff stage for the last 16 places will have 8 runners-up of the group stage joined by 8 teams who finished 3rd in the Europa League group stage. The 8 winners will go on to the knockout phase.

The knock out stage will have 8 winners of the UECL group stage joined with the 8 playoff stage winners to compete in a final group of 16.

The quarter finals stage will have the 8 winners of the last 16 play against each other to enter the final 4, also known as the semifinals. The 2 winners will play in the final for the Europa Conference League trophy and a spot in the next season's Europa League.

New Changes to the Champions League and Europa League Format in 2021

Let's see what changes will be made to the Champions League format and the Europa League format after the launch of the European Conference League. We will only be looking from the group stage perspective all the way to the finals.

The Champions League

The group stage will have 32 teams.

  • The previous season's Champions League and Europa League title holders
  • 10 champions from nations ranked 1-10
  • 6 runners-up from nations ranked 1-6
  • 4 third-placed teams from nations ranked 1-4
  • 4 fourth-placed teams from nations ranked 1-4
  • 4 winners from the previous round (Champions path playoff round)
  • 2 winners from the previous round (League path playoff round)

The last 16 will consist of 8 winners of the group stage and 8 runners-up of the group stage. You may be wondering what happens to the third-placed teams in the group stage. To answer that, we'll talk about the Europa League now.

Here's an in-depth video on how the European Conference League changes the whole competition by Fiago.

The Europa League

We will only be covering the group stage onward to avoid confusion.

The group stage will consist of 32 teams.

  • 7 domestic cup winners from associations ranked 1-7
  • 1 domestic league fourth-placed team from associations ranked fifth
  • 4 domestic league fifth-placed teams from associations ranked 1-4
  • 10 winners from the previous playoff round
  • 4 teams eliminated from the Champions League Champions path playoff round
  • 2 teams eliminated from the Champions League League path playoff round
  • 4 teams eliminated from the Champions League third qualifying round

The last 16 gets a little tricky. The 8 winners of the group stage will proceed to the last 16, while 8 of the group stage runners-up will square off against the 8 third-placed teams from the Champions League. The winners of the playoff round will proceed to the last 16.

This continues all the way until there are only two teams left in the competition. The winner of the final will be crowned the winner of the Europa League. They will also be promoted to the Champions League next season.

In a Nutshell

The new format sees all three competitions have 32 teams in their respective group stages. A new change here is that the third-placed Champions League group stage teams will enter a playoff round against the runners-up of the Europa League group stage, while those eliminated from the Europa League will enter the European Conference League group stage instead.

Winners of the Champions League will secure another spot in the competition in the following season while winners of the Europa League will secure a spot in the Champions League in the following season. Winners of the Europa Conference League will secure a spot in the Europa League in the following season.

The only hope from most fans of the European football scene is that this new competition will provide more challenge for those in the Europa League and provide a stage for less popular teams.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin explaining the reason for the Europa Conference League by The Star

© 2021 Nigel Koay Talks Football

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