Champions League format: all you need to know about the Swiss Model

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UEFA would more than ever ensure that the Swiss model UEFA Champions League format is introduced from the 2024-2025 season as planned, thanks to the attempt to introduce the European Super League.

Before the European Super League collapsed, it was looking like the Super League would change how football is played and perceived especially in Europe but the Swiss model UEFA Champions League format promises to be an interesting twist to the game.

What is the Swiss Model UEFA Champions League format?

The Swiss model is a tag given to the format of the UEFA Champions League that will run from 2024. In the new format, clubs would be placed on a table instead of the regular eight groups of four.

The system can be compared to a Swiss-system tournament used in chess which does not permit all the clubs in the league to play against all other clubs participating in the league. But opponents are systematically selected.

In chess, a participant’s next opponent is known after each game but in the new format of the Champions League, fixtures of the group games will be decided before the group stage begins just like it has always been.

Why is the Swiss model a necessity

The Swiss model UEFA Champions League format is simply the complete expansion of the current setup of the UEFA Champions League.

In the new format which will take effect from 2024, the number of games that will be played in the Champions League will increase from the current 125 games per season to 225 games.

With the increased number of games, clubs will earn more money which was the excuse clubs gave for joining the failed European Super League. However, it would still be the top clubs in Europe that will make more money in the new format since they have the potential of playing beyond the group stage.

How many teams the new Champions League format can accommodate?

UEFA Champions League format

As stated earlier, the new UEFA Champions League format will see 225 games instead of 125 games. These games will be played by 36 clubs instead of 32 teams that currently play the Champions League.

In the new format, each of the 36 clubs have the privilege of playing at least 10 Champions League games while most of the clubs will play at least 12 games.

Where UEFA intends to get the remaining 4 clubs:

For the number of clubs that will participate in the UEFA Champions League to increase from 32 to 36, a third-placed team of the league ranked 5th by the European football governing body would qualify automatically for the group stage. That means France that is currently ranked 5th would have three clubs in the Champions League automatically from 2024 if they maintain their current ranking.

The second team would be added to the Champions League through the Champions path qualifying route. This involves leagues ranked below UEFA’s top 10 leagues.

While the remaining two clubs would be added to the Champions League from clubs with UEFA’s highest coefficient who did not qualify for the European Champions League.

The UEFA coefficient of clubs are arrived at by the performance of clubs in the last 5 years. So, any club that has been playing football at the highest level consistently would have a high UEFA coefficient.

How UEFA intend to decide the fixture of the 2024 UEFA Champions League format?

In the new format, UEFA will come up with fixtures by placing clubs in four pots. Each pot will contain nine clubs arranged based on their five-year club coefficient.

From the pots, each club would be made to play against 10 other clubs – 5 home games, and 5 away games. Clubs from the same association can not play each other in the group stage and clubs in the same pot will not also play each other.

How will clubs be eliminated from the league?

Clubs will be eliminated from the UEFA Champions League group stage if such clubs finish from 25th to 36th spot on the general table. While clubs that finish between 9th and 24th place will go into two-legged playoffs. Those who win the playoffs will scale through to the round of 16 while those who don’t, will relocate to the Europa League.

The clubs that finish from 1st to 8th spots will automatically qualify for the Round of 16 where they will be joined by the clubs that win the playoffs. After that, the Champions League will continue from the round of 16 like in the current format.