UEFA Youth League: Guide to the new season

The UEFA Youth League's fourth season begins next month and two draws will set the paths for the 64 entrants dreaming of succeeding Chelsea as champions.

Chelsea faced Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016 final
Chelsea faced Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016 final ©Sportsfile

The UEFA Youth League enters its fourth season with the Under-19 teams of the 32 UEFA Champions League entrants joined by the 32 national youth champion clubs. UEFA.com explains how the season will work.

There are two methods of qualification for the UEFA Youth League, with the teams in each 'path' competing separately in the autumn ...

1: UEFA Champions League path: The 32 youth teams of the clubs which qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

2: Domestic Champions path: The domestic youth champions of the 32 best-ranked associations in the 2015 UEFA association coefficient rankings (the same rankings used to decide access to the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League).

• If a team is eligible for both, they enter the UEFA Champions League path (i.e. Manchester City qualified for the Domestic Champions path but switched to the UEFA Champions League path as their senior team won their play-off).

• If there is a vacancy in the UEFA Champions League path, replacement criteria will be defined by the UEFA administration.

• A vacancy in the domestic champions path (including if a club is instead eligible for the UEFA Champions League path) is, in principle, filled by the domestic youth champion of the next best-ranked association.

Holders Chelsea neither qualified for the UEFA Champions League nor won their domestic youth competition, so they will not be able to go for a third title in a row.

• The full list of contenders for both paths will be confirmed after the UEFA Champions League play-offs end.

Competition system

Chelsea's 2016 triumph
Chelsea's 2016 triumph

UEFA Champions League path
The 32 clubs entering via the UEFA Champions League will compete in groups with the indentical make-up and fixture list as for the senior competition.

• The eight group winners will progress straight to the round of 16.

• The eight runners-up will go into the play-offs.

Domestic Champions path
The 32 teams will compete in two knockout rounds of home-and-away ties. There will be no seeding.

• The eight teams remaining after the second round will go into the play-offs.

Play-offs
The eight Domestic Champions path survivors will be drawn at home to the eight UEFA Champions League path runners-up in one-off ties to decide the eight remaining round of 16 berths.

Knockout phase and final
The knockout phase, starting with the round of 16 will consist of single-leg ties.

• The semi-finals and the final will be played on 21 and 24 April respectively at the Colovray stadium opposite UEFA's Swiss headquarters in Nyon.

More information can be seen in the competition's official regulations.

Season calendar
Pre-season draws
UEFA Champions League draw: 25 August, Monaco
Domestic Champions path draw (both rounds): 30 August, Nyon

Autumn matches
UEFA Champions League path matchday one: 13/14 September
UEFA Champions League path matchday two: 27/28 September
Domestic Champions path round one, first leg: 27/28 September
UEFA Champions League path matchday three: 18/19 October
Domestic Champions path round one, second leg: 18/19 October
UEFA Champions League path matchday four: 1/2 November
Domestic Champions path round two, first leg: 1/2 November
UEFA Champions League path matchday five: 22/23 November
Domestic Champions path round two, second leg: 22/23 November
UEFA Champions League path matchday six: 6/7 December

Knockout dates
Play-off draw: 12 December
Play-offs: 7/8 February
Knockout draw (round of 16 onwards): 13 February
Round of 16: 21/22 February
Quarter-finals: 7/8 March
Semi-final: 21 April, Nyon
Final: 24 April, Nyon

Still confused? Let this graphic explain ...

©UEFA.com