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Champions League

Champions League | European Super League: Differences between the current Champions League, the new format and the European Super League


News of the European Super League broke late on Sunday night and confirmation of the new Champions League format followed soon after, but what will these changes look like?

The new-look Champions League, slated to debut in 2024, is very different from the current version, with more teams and a much-changed qualification process.

Here we take a look at and compare the European Super League, the new Champions League and its current format.

Fixed places vs. qualification on sporting merit

The big difference the European Super League presents is instead of a qualification process, 15 of the 20 participants are guaranteed entry every year and the remaining five teams will be invited by the other 15.

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It is not yet known what the qualification criteria will be for the five invitation places.

Differences between the current Champions League, the new format and the European Super League

In the Champions League, from the 2024/25 season, there will be 36 teams that qualify via domestic league finishes, a rise of four teams, although two automatic places are reserved for the teams with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

Two groups of 10 vs. a virtual league with random fixtures

The format of the Champions League today is simple and well known: eight groups of four, the top two in each proceed to the last 16, third place drops to the Europa League and fourth goes home.

In the revamped competition, however, all 36 teams will be in one group, with teams seeded into four categories to determine the fixtures.

Every team will play two matches against other team from their own category and three from each of the other categories, which brings the total to ten group-stage fixtures per team.

These ten games against ten different teams, five at home and five away, will determine the standings for the virtual league.

The top eight teams qualify automatically for the last 16, while teams nine through 24 will compete in two-legged playoffs for the remaining spots.

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The losers of said playoffs will enter the Europa League and the idea of a Final Four ending to the tournament, like last summer, remains on the table.

Meanwhile, the European Super League proposes two groups of 10 teams who will play each other twice, giving the first phase 18 matchdays.

The top three from each group qualify automatically for the quarter-finals, while the fourth- and fifth-placed teams in each group will compete in a playoff for the other two spots.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals will then be two-legged and the final a one-off game.

Double the number of group-stage matches

The current Champions League group stage has a total of 96 matches, but both the future Champions League and the European Super League will have 180 group-stage matches.

More prize money

Perhaps the biggest factor for the breakaway European Super League clubs is money and the tournament, backed by JP Morgan, boasts a prize pot of 400 million euros for the winner, compared to 120 million for the Champions League winner as things stand.

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These clubs hope to counterbalance the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic with this increased revenue, while also allowing themselves to pay even higher wages.

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