The biggest football club competition in the world, UEFA Champions League is set to undergo radical changes with the knock-out round format set to be transformed. UEFA is considering adopting a tennis-style format for the knock-out phase where the draws will be pre-drawn according to the rankings of the teams.
The changes in the format will also eliminate the ruling where clubs from the same country cannot play against each other until the quarter-finals stage, this means that Barcelona and Real Madrid or Manchester City and Liverpool will be eligible to play against each other in the Round of 16.
According to details, the 24 teams that qualify for the first knock-out phase of the champions league will already be aware of their route to the final of the competition. The route will be determined according to seedings as in the Tennis Grand Slams.
The top two sides will not face each other till the final of the competition, which puts them on the opposite sides of the draws. This is in line with the overhaul of the tournament that UEFA announced a few months ago.
According to the new format, the number of teams in the competition will increase from 32 to 36 and will compete in one ‘Swiss-system’ league table rather than being drawn in separate groups.
Here are the details of the new format:
- 36-team group stage table where the top 24 teams at the end of the group stage will qualify for the next round while the bottom 12 teams will be eliminated from the competition.
- Teams ranked from 1 to 8 will qualify directly for the round of 16 and will be assigned seeds.
- Teams ranked 9-24 will face each other in the knock-out play-offs where the winners of the tie will qualify for the round of 16 while the losers will be eliminated from the tournament.
- The knock-out round draw will be split into two where the top 2 will be placed at the opposite ends of the bracket.
- Teams ranked from 3 to 16 will be placed at the opposite ends of the bracket depending on their seedings.
The changes in the format will be effective from the 2024-25 season onwards. The official announcement regarding the format changes will be made by UEFA in due course.