The UEFA Europa League comprises three qualifying rounds, a play-off round, a group stage and five knockout rounds.
In matches in the three qualifying rounds and the play-offs, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis. The club which scores the greater aggregate of goals qualifies for the next round, with away goals and then penalties used to determine the winner in the event of a draw.
The 38 play-off round winners join the ten losers from the UEFA Champions League play-offs. The clubs are split into 12 groups of four teams, playing home and away against each of their pool opponents between September and December. Two sides from each section advance, proceeding into the round of 32 alongside eight third-placed teams from the UEFA Champions League group stage.
From the last 32 until the semi-finals, clubs play two games against each other on a home-and-away basis with the same rules as the qualifying and play-off rounds applied. In the last 32, group winners and the four third-placed sides from the UEFA Champions League with the best records are seeded, guaranteeing they will play the second leg at home. Teams from the same group or the same association cannot be drawn together. From the round of 16 onwards the draw is free.
The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the National Stadium, Bucharest on Wednesday 9 May.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, can be found in the official competition regulations.
The 2013 UEFA Europa League final, awarded to the Amsterdam ArenA by the UEFA Executive Committee on 16 June 2011, will be the second major continental showpiece at the modern home of four-time European champions AFC Ajax.
• Opened on 14 August 1996 with a spectacular ceremony and match between Ajax and AC Milan, the 51,800-seater Amsterdam ArenA came of age when it staged the 1998 UEFA Champions League final, Real Madrid CF beating Juventus. It was also a venue for UEFA EURO 2000, playing host to a semi-final among five games.
• It was not the first Amsterdam venue to stage major UEFA matches. The Olympisch Stadion, where Ajax played big games prior to the construction of the modern ArenA, hosted the 1962 European Champion Clubs' Cup final where SL Benfica beat Madrid 5-3.
• The 1977 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final also took place at the Olympisch Stadion, bringing a 2-0 victory for Hamburger SV against RSC Anderlecht, as did the second leg of the 1992 UEFA Cup decider, Ajax holding Torino FC 0-0 to win on away goals.
• The most recent final in the Netherlands was the 2006 UEFA Cup decider, a 4-0 triumph for Sevilla FC against Middlesbrough FC in Eindhoven.
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