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2020/21 UEFA Champions League: all you need to know

When is the group stage? How will qualifying work? Where is the 2021 final?

The UEFA Champions League trophy
The UEFA Champions League trophy ©UEFA.com

With the 2019/20 season only finishing on 23 August, the autumn schedule for the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League is stacked tight. Here's what we know so far.

Group stage line-up

Who has qualified for the group stage?

The 32 teams that have qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage consists of 26 automatic qualifiers joined by the six play-off winners.

Real Madrid are Spanish champions
Real Madrid are Spanish championsAFP via Getty Images

ESP (4): Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid, Sevilla
ENG (4): Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea
ITA (4): Juventus, Internazionale Milano, Atalanta, Lazio
GER (4): Bayern, Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach
FRA (3): Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Rennes
RUS (3): Zenit, Lokomotiv Moskva, Krasnodar*
UKR (2): Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv*
(1): Porto
BEL (1): Club Brugge
NED (1): Ajax
AUT (1): Salzburg*
(1): İstanbul Başakşehir
DEN (1): Midtjylland*
GRE (1): Olympiacos*
HUN (1): Ferencváros*

*via play-offs

This list is subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Who are the holders?

Watch all of Bayern's 2019/20 Champions League goals
Watch all of Bayern's 2019/20 Champions League goals

Bayern return to the 2020/21 competition as holders having beaten Paris in the final in Lisbon to become European champions for a sixth time.

What has changed?

With 2019/20 only ending on 23 August, the principal change to the 2020/21 calendar is that everything is now a little later. Qualifying, which had been due to begin on 23 June, kicked off on 8 August, with the group stage draw on 1 October and the competition proper getting under way on 20 October. The knockout stages will be unchanged from the original schedule.

The UEFA Executive Committee decided on 24 September that five substitutions will be allowed for the remainder of the season. Consequently, the number of players allowed on the match sheet will be increased to 23.

Full 2020/21 calendar

One leg or two? Fans or no fans?

All qualifying ties were single-leg matches before reverting to home and away fixtures for the play-offs. Games are taking place behind closed doors until further notice.

When will matches take place?

The Champions League anthem
The Champions League anthem

08/08/2020–11/08/2020 Preliminary round
18/08/2020–19/08/2020 First qualifying round
25/08/2020–26/08/2020 Second qualifying round
15/09/2020–16/09/2020 Third qualifying round
22/09/2020–30/09/2020 Play-offs

Group stage
20/10/2020–21/10/2020 Matchday 1
27/10/2020–28/10/2020 Matchday 2
03/11/2020–04/11/2020 Matchday 3
24/11/2020–25/11/2020 Matchday 4
01/12/2020–02/12/2020 Matchday 5
08/12/2020–09/12/2020 Matchday 6

Knockout stages
16/02/2021–17/03/2021 Round of 16
06/04/2021–14/04/2021 Quarter-finals
27/04/2021–05/05/2021 Semi-finals
29/05/2021 Final, Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul

Where will the final take place?

2005 final highlights: Liverpool 3-3 Milan (3-2 pens)
2005 final highlights: Liverpool 3-3 Milan (3-2 pens)

The final will take place at Istanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium, which had been due to stage the 2020 decider. Saint Petersburg, the prospective 2021 host, will now stage the 2022 event.

With a capacity of over 70,000, the venue stages Turkey national-team games and has at various times been a temporary home for Istanbul clubs Galatasaray, İstanbul Başakşehir and Beşiktaş.

Most famously, the Atatürk Olympic Stadium staged the 2005 UEFA Champions League final, Liverpool recovering from going 3-0 down against AC Milan to win the game on penalties – the so-called 'Miracle of Istanbul'.

When are the draws?

17/07/2020: Preliminary round draw
09/08/2020: First qualifying round draw
10/08/2020: Second qualifying round draw
31/08/2020: Third qualifying round draw
01/09/2020: Play-off draw
01/10/2020: Group stage draw (RTS studios, Geneva, Switzerland)
14/12/2020: Round of 16 draw
19/03/2021: Quarter-final and semi-final draws

All draws take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland unless otherwise stated.