The UEFA Champion’s League (UCL) is the most prestigious tournament in Europe. It’s a competition with the best teams from each football association (FA) in Europe pitted against each other. When it comes to qualifying for the UCL, UEFA had to get a little creative when determining how many spots to award each FA.
Also, make sure to check out the format of Europa League 2019/20.
To qualify for the UCL, clubs from the top 10 leagues in UEFAs rankings earn their spots in Europe by performing well in their domestic leagues. The amount of teams from each league to qualify depends primarily on the leagues’ coefficient. This is determined based on how the teams of that league have performed in recent years.
A breakdown of how many teams from member nations based on coefficient rankings looks like this:
- FA Ranks 1-4 – Top 4 qualify
- FA Ranks 5-6 – Top 3 qualify
- FA Ranks 7-15 – Top 2 qualify
- FA Ranks 16-55 – Winners qualify
- Because Lichtenstein doesn’t have a domestic league, they don’t have any allocated spots.
The winners of the domestic leagues of the lowest-rated 4 FAs in Europe play 2 knockout games. The winners of their respective games then compete against each other. The winner of the second game will proceed to the first qualifying round. At this stage, only single-legged games are played.
First Qualifying Round
Associations ranked 20-51 and their domestic league winners, along with the team advancing from the preliminary round, play a knockout game of 2 legs with the winners progressing onto the second qualifying round.
Second Qualifying Round
Along with the 16 teams progressing from the first qualifying round, the 4 runners-up from the FAs ranked 12-15 and the 4 winners from the FAs ranked 16-19 to start their qualifying journey on this round. The runners-up play a double-legged knockout game against one other runner-up team, and the others play a single knockout game as well. The winners advance to the next round.
Third Qualifying Round
12 winners of the second qualifying round come through to the third, along with 2 champions of the domestic leagues from nations ranked 14-15, 5 runners-up from ranks 7-11, and 1 3rd place team from rank 6. Another set of knockout games with 2 legs are played, with 10 teams qualifying for the play-off round.
10 teams from the third qualifying round come through to the play-offs, along with 2 new teams coming in at this stage. The 2 teams are the winners of the domestic leagues from the FAs ranked 12-13. There are another 6 playoff games where the winners will advance to the group stage.
The group stage will see the 6 qualification winners join the 26 teams that automatically qualified for the group stage. Divided into 8 groups with 4 teams each, 6 games (2 against each team) will be played by every team. The winners and the runners-up from each group go-ahead to the round of 16.
The 8 winners and 8 runners-up progress to the knockout stage, where the team that has the highest score on aggregate after two legs advances.
Next up, the 8 remaining teams play in the quarter-finals, with the winning 4 teams advancing to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals are played over 2 legs like the other games. This will see the two winning teams after both legs face each other in the final match.
The finals will be played by the two teams who’ve won every knockout stage so far. The last stage, the final, is single-legged. The game will decide the winner of the tournament, where equal scoring after 90 minutes will see conventional extra-time played. If both sides are even after extra-time, then a penalty shootout will decide the victor.
The winner of the final will be crowned the winner of the champion’s league. Winners automatically qualify for the competition next season.