Here We Go Again
The Champions League is now set to swell from 32 teams to 36 and now we are going to explain exactly what those changes are.
Room For Four More
When football hell broke loose last season, it was because of plans to form a European Super League and although they have or have not gone away – depending on what side of the fence you sit in, such furore clouded plans that were being formed elsewhere.
Plans that saw UEFA add some fat to their already hefty Champions League competition and with 32 teams currently in the group phase of the competition, all that will change by the time the 2024/25 season comes around.
Because now the gang of 32 will soon mean an increase to 36 and for those who are wondering how the existing eight group to knockout stage format will subsequently work, the simple answer is that it will not.
With expansion on the horizon, it also means change and with four more teams added to the pre-knockout phase, this is how the competition will shape up:
- Group stage replaced by one overall league table
- Each team plays 10 games in the first phase (five home, five away)
- 100 additional games before the knockout stage
- Top eight in the overall league table qualify automatically for the knockout stage
- Teams finishing 9th to 24th, will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure a path to the last 16 (as like the Europa and Europa Conference Leagues)
While although this change has been triumphed by those within UEFA’s headquarters, it has not been met with the same warm affection by supporters across the continent and their fear is that soon we will see far too much of a good thing.
Fundamentally football fans are not welcoming of change and with a suggestion that this competition will only become more bloated than it already is, it is perhaps a European Super League in all but name.
Then again, the format is irrelevant to those who want to win this season’s edition of the tournament and with Manchester City already with more than one foot in the last eight, they will now look to go all the way to Paris at the end of the season.
With Pep Guardiola’s men priced at 9/4 with Bet365 to win the current edition of the Champions League, the market also mirrors that of the Premier League and with Liverpool second favourites in both, it will be interesting to see if the formbook is followed in either tournament.
Of course, it is Liverpool who are also in Champions League action in midweek and with the Merseyside outfit already with a first leg advantage over Inter Milan, they are priced at 13/10 with bet365 for a halftime/fulltime win at Anfield.
Whether either English outfit can rule the European roost remains to be seen and it will also remain to be seen just how the changes to the Champions League impact the tournament. The answer to which we will find out in just a couple of years’ time.