Champions League

How will the new-look Champions League actually work?

Proposals to change the current format of Europe's elite competition are close to being accepted, with changes set to come into play in 2024

2:36pm on Tuesday 9th March 2021
Cameron Smith

The peak of European football, the Champions League is a trophy that every player dreams of winning.

In its current format, 32 teams qualify for the group stages where they are split into eight groups of four. Each team plays the other teams in their group both home and away with the top two progressing into the knockout stages.

A last-16 two-legged tie between a group winner and a team who finished second decides who goes through to the quarter-finals, and the same process is repeated until just two teams remain. The winner of this final is crowned champions of Europe for that season.

However, recent proposals to change the format have been revealed and are close to being agreed, with the start date for this new-look tournament in 2024.

Andrea Agnelli, the chairman of the European Clubs Association, revealed on Monday that he believes the change in layout to the Champions League will be agreed within weeks.

What is the new 'Swiss model' for the Champions League?

UEFA's plan is for is an expanded Champions League of 36 teams, with each club playing 10 group matches in a “Swiss system” that would see them ranked in one league table, rather than eight individual ones.

The results of these matches would form an overall table which, together some with two-legged play-offs, would determine qualification for the knockout rounds.

At the moment, the current format of the knockout stages will stay the same, with two-legged ties deciding who progresses.

This would bring an end to the never-ending rumours of a breakaway "Super League" between Europe's elite clubs, and ensure the Champions League is here to stay.

Agnelli revealed: “I think we’re very close to my ideal Champions League, I think the Swiss system is beautiful.

“I think it will provide great opportunities for those teams participating in that competition. It will provide the knockouts that are the essence of any competition. It’s very, very close to an ideal Champions League. We’re maybe just a couple of weeks away.

“I think the balance that we [Agnelli and UEFA's president Alexander Ceferin] are trying to strike is one third [of the season] international [European competition] and two thirds [of the season] domestic."

These proposals could mean the Premier League is forced to change its fixture schedule with its top teams playing more games in Europe than ever before.

The new-look competition would begin in 2024 at the earliest, if plans are agreed, and would see the biggest change in European football for decades.

Bayern Munich are the current reigning champions of the competition after beating PSG 1-0 in last summer's final, and Real Madrid currently hold the record for the most successes in the competition's history, having won the trophy 13 times.

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