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2021/22 UEFA Europa League: all you need to know

How does the group stage work? Who came through qualifying? Where is the 2022 final?

The UEFA Europa League trophy
The UEFA Europa League trophy ©UEFA.com

The competition has undergone major changes for its 51st season, the 13th since it was rebranded from UEFA Cup to UEFA Europa League. It kicked off on 5 August 2021 and runs until the decider on 18 May 2022. As previously, the eventual winners will earn an automatic place in the following season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

What are the big changes?

The introduction of the UEFA Europa Conference League means several significant alterations for the UEFA Europa League.

The group stage has been reduced from 48 to 32 teams – eight groups of four. The eight group winners progress automatically to the round of 16.

There will be additional knockout round play-offs prior to the round of 16; these will be between the eight UEFA Europa League group runners-up and the eight third-ranked teams from the UEFA Champions League groups.

Matches continue to be played on Thursdays (other than the final), now alongside UEFA Europa Conference League games. The matches of the two competitions are in principle equally split between the two time slots: 18:45 CET (no longer 18:55) and 21:00 CET.

Who is in the group stage?

Meet the group stage contenders
  • 12 automatic qualifiers
  • *10 UEFA Europa League play-off winners
  • **10 sides transferring from the UEFA Champions League play-offs and third qualifying round

AUT: Rapid Wien*, Sturm Graz*
: Antwerp*, Genk**
BUL: Ludogorets Razgrad**
CRO: Dinamo Zagreb**
: Sparta Praha**
: Brøndby**, Midtjylland**
ENG: Leicester, West Ham
ESP: Real Sociedad, Real Betis
FRA: Lyon, Marseille, Monaco**
: Eintracht Frankfurt, Leverkusen
GRE: Olympiacos*
HUN: Ferencváros**
ITA: Napoli, Lazio
NED: PSV Eindhoven**
POL: Legia Warszawa*
POR: Braga
RUS: Lokomotiv Moskva, Spartak Moskva**
SCO: Celtic*, Rangers*
SRB: Crvena zvezda*
TUR: Fenerbahçe*, Galatasaray*

Who entered when? Read the Access List

How did qualifying work?

Qualifying was much-changed, and featured 27 teams across two rounds: the third qualifying round and play-offs. It started later than previously, in August.

The majority of teams involved in qualifying transferred from the UEFA Champions League, though some teams (in principle cup winners) from top 15-ranked associations began directly in UEFA Europa League qualifying.

Full details of who entered when, and how eliminated clubs transferred to the UEFA Europa Conference League, can be found on the access List.

Key dates

5 & 12 August 2021: Third qualifying round
19 & 26 August 2021: Play-offs

Group stage
16 September 2021: Matchday 1
30 September 2021: Matchday 2
21 October 2021: Matchday 3
4 November 2021: Matchday 4
25 November 2021: Matchday 5
9 December 2021: Matchday 6

Knockout stages
17 & 24 February 2022: Knockout round play-offs
10 & 17 March 2022: Round of 16
7 & 14 April 2022: Quarter-finals
28 April & 5 May 2022: Semi-finals
18 May 2022: Final

19 July 2021, 13:30 CET: Third qualifying round
2 August 2021, 13:00 CET: Play-off round
27 August 2021, 12:00 CET: Group stage
13 December 2021, 13:30 CET: Knockout round play-offs
25 February 2022, 13:00 CET: Round of 16
18 March 2022, 13:30 CET: Quarter-finals & Semi-finals

Where will the final take place?

Highlights: Steaua’s 1986 glory

The final will take place at Sevilla's Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán. It was originally scheduled to be played at the Puskás Aréna in Budapest but, due to the postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, appointed final hosts were shifted back a year.

Home to six-time UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup winners Sevilla, the venue opened in 1958 and hosted the 1986 European Cup final, when Steaua stunned Barcelona. The Spanish national team have never lost at the stadium.

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