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New Champions League Format for 2024-25 Explained: 36 Teams, Swiss Model and Seeding

As announced by UEFA, The Champions League 2024/25 season will have a Swiss Model league stage and tennis-style seeding system for the knockouts. Details inside!

Moinak Banerjee
Last updated: 14.03.2024
New Champions League Format for 2024-25 Explained

The familiar look of the UEFA Champions League is going to change from the 2024/25 season with the group stages now going to be a thing of the past. As announced by UEFA, From now on the competition will not have teams divided into groups but will see them compete in a single league in the ‘Swiss Model’ format. The number of participating teams has also increased from 32 to 36 teams. 

Furthermore, a tennis-style seeding system has also been approved for the knockouts of the competition.


The new system for the Champions League was introduced by UEFA in May 2022 after the decision was taken a year ago in April 2021. It will be the first change to the premier club competition in Europe since the last-16 stage replaced the second group stage in 2003-04. The 2024/25 Champions League will be the 70th season of the premier club competition and promises to be a revolutionary one. 


Qualification to the new Champions League will be the same as before, depending upon the club’s ranking in their domestic league the previous season combined with each association's position in the association club coefficient ranking. The league stage with 36 teams with the 2023/24 Champions League and Europa League winners, champions from 1-10 ranked associations, runners-up from 1-6 ranked associations, third-placed teams from associations 1-5, fourth-placed teams from associations 1-4 and six winners from the playoff with five from Champions path and two from League path.

After the increase in teams, four additional slots will have to be filled. Two of those slots will go to associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season, determined by their coefficient rankings. One place will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the fifth-ranked association while the other will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the Champions path of the competition's qualifying process.

Swiss Model

From the 2024/25 season, the competition will have a league stage and a knockout rather than teams divided into groups. All 36 sides will be put in a single league system. Every club will play eight matches against opponents from different pots with four at home and four away. The top eight teams in the league phase, decided by overall rankings, will qualify automatically for the Round of 16 while the teams finishing in 9th to 24th place will compete in a two-legged knock-out phase play-off to secure their path. Teams finishing 25th or below will be eliminated with no chance of parachuting down to the Europa League. The model is also applied to the other UEFA club competitions, the Europa League and the Conference League.

The league phase draw is going to be a hybrid system with some of it being digital and the rest manual. A complete manual draw will take up to four hours according to UEFA modeling so the practice is abolished now. The full manual aspect of the draw will be choosing the team whose fixtures are to be determined. Clubs will not be able to draw teams from the same country unless there are too many representatives from the same region in one particular pot. This will only happen to teams from leagues with four or more clubs in the competition.

Tennis-style seeding system in knockouts

To determine the last-16 of the new Champions League format, the draw will be seeded based on the club’s ranking in the league phase. A tennis-style seeding system will be adopted which means the first and second seeds cannot face each other until the final of the competition. They also cannot play the teams seeded third and fourth until the semi-final at least. From last-16 stage onwards, the tournament will follow the existing format.


League Stage

Draw: 29 August 2024

Matchday 1: 17-19 September 2024

Matchday 2: 1-2 October 2024

Matchday 3: 22-23 October 2024

Matchday 4: 5-6 November 2024

Matchday 5: 26-27 November 2024

Matchday 6: 10-11 December 2024

Matchday 7: 21-22 January 2025

Matchday 8: 29 January 2025

The league stage matches for the new Champions League format will be played from September to January. There will be no break from the Champions League this time. In weeks having Europa League and Conference League matches, the competition will be played along the usual Tuesday to Wednesday. However, games are scheduled for Thursday as well for an exclusive week for the competition. Each UEFA club competition will receive one such week in their calendar with the other two competitions not being scheduled in that time. All games will kick off simultaneously in the final matchday of the league stage.


Knockout round play-offs

First Leg: 11-12 February 2025

Second Leg: 18–19 February 2025

Round of 16

First Leg: 4-5 March 2025

Second Leg: 11-12 March 2025


First Leg: 8-9 April 2025

Second Leg: 15-16 April 2025


First Leg: 29-30 April 2025

Second Leg: 6-7 May 2025


31 May 2025 (Allianz Arena, Munich)

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