Explained: Which country will get the fifth UEFA Champions League spot for 2024/25?

UEFA has done away with the eight-groups philosophy, with all teams set to be ranked in a single table. Each team will play eight matches in the league stage – four at home and four away. 

Published : Apr 09, 2024 16:17 IST , CHENNAI - 4 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: The Champions League trophy.
FILE PHOTO: The Champions League trophy. | Photo Credit: Reuters

FILE PHOTO: The Champions League trophy. | Photo Credit: Reuters

After a gap of more than a month, the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League (UCL) is set to be the plat du jour of footballing action this week as the European elite are set to battle it out in the quarterfinal of the continental football extravaganza.

While the plots and subplots in these four double-legged ties will undeniably attract eyeballs, the performances of the clubs during the business end of the tournament have an added weightage this time. 

UEFA is set to put in motion the new format of the Champions League from next season. A multitude of constituents, including the final domestic league position, club coefficients and association club coefficients are involved in deciding the participating clubs, inducing quite the confusion.

Let’s break down the new format of the UEFA Champions League and ascertain which are the clubs in prime position to make it to the league stage next year. 

League Stage:

The UEFA Champions League is expanding into a 36-team tournament from 2024/25, meaning four new teams will be included in the novel league phase. 

UEFA has done away with the eight-groups philosophy, with all teams set to be ranked in a single table. Each team will play eight matches in the league stage – four at home and four away. 

Participating teams will be split into four seeding pots, a team playing two opponents from each pot, one match against a team from each pot at home, and similarly, one away.

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Similar changes will be effected in the Europa League (UEL) and Europa Conference League (UECL) as well, with teams facing eight different opponents in the UEL while the UECL will see six matches and hence six different adversaries. 

Association club coefficient (five-year coefficient)
England - 103.178
Spain - 87.864
Italy - 86.998
Germany - 83.624
France - 65.331

How do the four extra teams qualify?

Similar to the current season, 32 teams will qualify for the league phase based on their domestic finish the previous season and their position in the association club coefficient.

The four new teams will be allocated in the following way:
One slot goes to the third-placed club in the league ranked fifth in the association club coefficient rankings (five-year). This slot is currently occupied by the third-placed team in Ligue 1 – Monaco, which enjoys a three-point lead over Lille.
The second slot will be filled by increasing the number of clubs qualifying through the Champions Path of the traditional qualifying tournament from four to five.
The third and fourth slots will go to the associations that had the best collective performance the previous season, i.e. two teams from the top two leagues in the association club coefficient ranking of 2023/24.

Currently, the top two countries in the ranking are Italy and Germany, with England following closely behind in third. The ranking will be updated based on the performances of the clubs in the playoff rounds of the current edition of the UCL, UEL and UECL.

As things stand, Roma and Borussia Dortmund will be two teams making it to the league stage next season. But with England having five representatives in European competition currently, it is an odds-on favourite to usurp Germany (3 representatives) and move into the top two.

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Ironically. Tottenham Hotspur, currently occupying fifth place in the Premier League, will be counting on rivals Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City to make it deep into this year’s European competition.

Association club coefficient (2023/24 season)

Country 2023-24 season Clubs Active
Italy 17.714 4/7
Germany 16.357 3/7
England 16.250 5/8
France 14.750 3/6
Spain 14.437 3/8

In the UCL and the UEL, teams will receive one point each for every round they qualify to after the round of 16. In the UECL, points will be awarded only to teams that qualify to the semifinal and beyond, Hence England, which has more club representatives, has a better chance at finishing in the top two compared to Germany or France that has only three representatives.

How will teams qualify for the round of 16:

The top eight teams at the end of the league phase will automatically qualify for the round of 16. Teams ranked from nine to 24 will play a two-legged playoff round to decide the next set of eight teams qualifying further into the tournament.

The teams placed 9-16 will have the added advantage of playing the return leg of the playoff round at home. Teams that finish 25th or below will be eliminated from all European competition. All rounds beyond the round of 16 will follow the same format as the existing tournament. 

The new format provides teams low in the coefficient pecking order, a fairer chance, compared to the current iteration of the tournament. Teams that punch above their weight in the league phase will stand a chance to progress deep into the tournament with the jeopardy of playoff games also coming into play.

The competition that each club faces also becomes wider and with the top seeds playing two more teams from the same pot, more blockbuster clashes are in store for the football faithful.

Club coefficient ranking
Man City - 146 points
Bayern Munich - 139
Real Madrid - 127
Paris Saint-Germain - 113
Liverpool - 112
Inter Milan - 101
RB Leipzig - 97 
Chelsea - 96
Roma - 95
Manchester United - 92
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