This season's Europa League qualifying system explained

Struggling to get to grips with the new UEFA Europa League qualifying system? Allow us to explain.

Five-time UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla beging this campaign in qualifying
Five-time UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla beging this campaign in qualifying ©Getty Images

Qualifying for the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League spans more than two months, involves 178 teams and will entail 314 fixtures. Allow us to break it down step by step.

THIS SEASON'S CALENDAR

Preliminary round

Draw: 12 June
Fixtures: 28 June & 5 July

Teams: 14
Already known: 14

Watch the top ten goals from last season
Watch the top ten goals from last season

How it works
There will be seven two-legged preliminary round ties, with the winners proceeding to the first qualifying round. The losers will be out of Europe.

First qualifying round

Draw: 20 June
Fixtures: 12 & 19 July

Teams: 94
Already known: 87
Unknown: 7 (preliminary round winners)

How it works
There will be 47 two-legged first qualifying round ties, with the winners proceeding to the main path of the second qualifying round. The losers will be out of Europe.

Second qualifying round

Highlights of the 2017/18 final in Lyon
Highlights of the 2017/18 final in Lyon

At this stage, qualifying splits into two paths – the champions path and the main path. The champions path is for domestic title holders eliminated at various stages of UEFA Champions League qualifying; the main path will be comprised of some automatic entrants and some teams parachuting in from the league route of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

Champions path

Draw: 19 June
Fixtures: 26 July & 2 August

Teams: 19
Already known: 0
Unknown: 19 (16 losers of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round; 3 losers of the UEFA Champions League preliminary round)

How it works
Firstly, an additional draw on 19 June will decide one team given a bye to the third qualifying round. That leaves 18 sides, nine seeded and nine unseeded. There will be nine two-legged fixtures, with the winners progressing to the third qualifying round. The losers will be out of Europe.

Main path

Watch Manchester United's 2017 triumph
Watch Manchester United's 2017 triumph

Draw: 20 June
Fixtures: 26 July & 2 August

Teams: 74
Already known: 27
Unknown: 47 (first qualifying round winners)

How it works
There will be 37 two-legged ties, with the winners going into the main path of the third qualifying round. The losers will be out of Europe.

Third qualifying round

Draw: 23 July
Fixtures: 9 & 16 August

Champions path

Watch ten great final goals
Watch ten great final goals

Teams: 20
Already known: 0
Unknown: 20 (10 champions path winners of the second qualifying round; 10 champions path losers of the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round)

How it works
There will be ten two-legged ties, with the winners going into the champions path play-offs. The losers will be out of Europe.

Main path

Teams: 52
Already known: 13
Unknown: 39 (37 main path winners of the second qualifying round; 2 league path losers of the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round)

How it works
There will be 26 two-legged ties, with the winners going into the main path play-offs. The losers will be out of Europe.

Play-offs

Highlights: Sevilla beat Liverpool in 2016 final
Highlights: Sevilla beat Liverpool in 2016 final

Draw: 6 August
Fixtures: 23 & 30 August

Champions path

Teams: 16
Already known: 0
Unknown: 16 (10 champions path winners of the third qualifying round; 6 champions path losers of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round)

How it works
There will be eight two-legged ties, with the winners going into the group stage. The losers will be out of Europe.

Main path

Teams: 26
Already known: 0
Unknown: 26 (main path winners of the third qualifying round)

How it works
There will be 13 two-legged ties, with the winners going into the group stage. The losers will be out of Europe.

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