Champions League and Europa League changes next season

Qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League from 2018/19 is evolving. We explain the new system, which includes an extra round.

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Qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League is evolving from 2018/19. We explain the new system.

KEY CHANGES

  • Twenty-six teams now gain direct entry to the UEFA Champions League group stage – including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League winners – with six qualifying places available
  • Every team eliminated in UEFA Champions League qualifying will get a second chance in the UEFA Europa League
  • Seventeen teams now gain direct entry to the UEFA Europa League group stage, with ten teams directly transferring from the UEFA Champions League play-offs and third qualifying round plus 21 qualifying places in two different paths (UEFA Europa League champions and league paths)
  • There will be a preliminary round in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League (played as a knockout mini-tournament) and UEFA Europa League (played as two-legged ties)
  • There is no change to the formats from the group stage onwards but there will be staggered kick-offs – 18.55CET and 21.00CET – in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League
  • Useful links: 2018/19 access list, 2016/17 UEFA association coefficient rankings

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Group stage

For 2018/19 they will be ...
UEFA Champions League holders (1)
UEFA Europa League holders (1)
Top four from associations ranked 1st to 4th: Spain, Germany, England, Italy (16)
Top two from associations ranked 5th and 6th: France, Russia (4)
Champions of associations ranked 7th to 10th: Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey (4)

  • If the UEFA Champions League holders have qualified for the group stage via their domestic championship, the vacancy will be filled by the champions of the association ranked 11th (Czech Republic), who otherwise compete in the champions path
  • If the UEFA Europa League holders have qualified for the group stage via their domestic championship, the vacancy will be filled by the third-placed club from the association ranked fifth (France), who otherwise compete in the league path
  • An association may have a maximum of five teams in the group stage

Qualifying

Champions route (four group places)

This route consists of the champions of the associations ranked 11th and below, and now includes a preliminary round as well as three qualifying rounds and a play-off round:

  • Preliminary round (played as knockout mini-tournament): four teams enter
  • First qualifying round: 33 teams enter plus winner of preliminary round
  • Second qualifying round: three teams enter plus 17 first qualifying round winners
  • Third qualifying round: two teams enter plus ten second qualifying round winners
  • Play-offs: two teams enter plus six third qualifying round winners

All teams eliminated in the champions path between the preliminary round and the third qualifying round will be given a second chance to compete at European level by entering a new dedicated champions path of UEFA Europa League qualifying with staggered access according to round of elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Teams eliminated in champions path play-offs enter the UEFA Europa League group stage directly.

League route (two group places)

This route consists of the third-placed teams of the associations ranked fifth and sixth, and the runners-up of the associations ranked seventh to 15th. There are three rounds in all:

  • Second qualifying round: six teams enter
  • Third qualifying round: five teams enter plus three second qualifying round winners
  • Play-offs: four third qualifying round winners

All teams eliminated in the second qualifying round of the league path will be given a second chance to compete at European level by entering the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League league path. Teams eliminated in the league path third qualifying round and play-offs enter the UEFA Europa League group stage directly.

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE

Group stage

For 2018/19 they will be ...
Two teams from associations ranked 1st to 5th: Spain, Germany, England, Italy, France (10)
One team from associations ranked 6th to 12th: Russia, Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey, Czech Republic, Switzerland (7)

  • Ten teams also enter the group stage direct from the UEFA Champions League: six teams eliminated in the league path (third qualifying round and play-offs) and four teams eliminated in the champions path play-offs.

Qualifying

Champions route (eight group places)

This route consists of teams eliminated in the UEFA Champions League champions path between the preliminary round and the third qualifying round. There are three teams in all:

  • Second qualifying round: 20 teams eliminated in UEFA Champions League preliminary round and first qualifying round
  • Third qualifying round: ten teams eliminated in UEFA Champions League second qualifying round plus ten winners from UEFA Europa League champions path second qualifying round
  • Play-offs: six teams eliminated in UEFA Champions League third  qualifying round plus ten winners from UEFA Europa League champions path third qualifying round

League route (13 group places)

This route consists of the remaining UEFA Europa League entrants from all 55 associations plus teams eliminated from the UEFA Champions League league path second qualifying round

  • Preliminary round: 16 teams enter
  • First qualifying round: 86 teams enter plus eight preliminary round winners
  • Second qualifying round: 27 teams enter plus 47 first qualifying round winners
  • Third qualifying round: 15 teams enter (including the three teams eliminated from the UEFA Champions League league path second qualifying round) plus 37 second qualifying round winners
  • Play-offs: 26 third qualifying round winners

MATCH CALENDARS

2018/19 UEFA Champions League

26 June: Preliminary round semi-finals
29 June: Preliminary round final
10/11 July: First qualifying round, first leg
17/18 July: First qualifying round, second leg
24/25 July: Second qualifying round, first leg
31 July/1 August: Second qualifying round, second leg
7/8 August: Third qualifying round, first leg
14 August: Third qualifying round, second leg
21/22 August: Play-off round, first leg
28/29 August: Play-off round, second leg

18/19 September: Group stage, matchday one
2/3 October: Group stage, matchday two
23/24 October: Group stage, matchday three
6/7 November: Group stage, matchday four
27/28 November: Group stage, matchday five
11/12 December: Group stage, matchday six

12/13/19/20 February: Round of 16, first leg
5/6/12/13 March: Round of 16, second leg
9/10 April: Quarter-finals, first leg
16/17 April: Quarter-finals, second leg
30 April/1 May: Semi-finals, first leg
7/8 May: Semi-finals, second leg

Saturday 1 June: Final – Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid

2018/19 UEFA Europa League

28 June: Preliminary round, first leg
5 July: Preliminary round, second leg
12 July: First qualifying round, first leg
19 July: First qualifying round, second leg
26 July: Second qualifying round, first leg
2 August: Second qualifying round, second leg
9 August: Third qualifying round, first leg
16 August: Third qualifying round, second leg
23 August: Play-off round, first leg
30 August: Play-off round, second leg

20 September: Group stage, matchday one
4 October: Group stage, matchday two
25 October: Group stage, matchday three
8 November: Group stage, matchday four
29 November: Group stage, matchday five
13 December: Group stage, matchday six

14 February: Round of 32, first leg
21 February: Round of 32, second leg
7 March: Round of 16, first leg
14 March: Round of 16, second leg
11 April: Quarter-finals, first leg
18 April: Quarter-finals, second leg
2 May: Semi-finals, first leg
9 May: Semi-finals, second leg

Wednesday 29 May: Final – Olympic Stadium, Baku

  • 2018 UEFA Super Cup will be played on Wednesday 15 August in Tallinn
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