The UEFA Champions League semi-finals round is set to become a one-legged format instead of the regular two-legged format from the 2024-2025 season. This is reportedly part of the ongoing reform in the competition.
Recall that since the UEFA Champions League started in the 1955-1956 season, the semi-finals stage of the competition is played in a 2-legged format. This format gives room for the home and away format in which Team A will play at the stadium of Team B, days or weeks later, Team B will play the return leg at the stadium of Team A.
Initially, the winner of the round could be decider by the away goals rule. That is, the team which scores more goals away from its home ground would scale through to the second round. This approach was introduced into the competition 10 years after the UEFA Champions League started in 1955.
Note that Real Madrid won the first edition of the Champions League. They are currently the most successful club in the competition. They have won the UEFA Champions League title a record 13 times.
Talking about the away goals rule, ahead of the 2021-2022 season, UEFA decided to end the practice which means that a team can only qualify for the next round of the competition through a straight win or aggregate win.
What we know about the proposed format of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals
Martin Ziegler from The Times was the first source that leaked the proposed one-off fixture for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Reports claimed that UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has endorsed the proposal, and the European Club Association (ECA) is set to vote in favor of a one-off
UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
If that happens, clubs would no longer have the opportunity of playing the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in a home and away format.
In replacement of that, all the clubs that qualify for the semi-finals stage of the competition would converge on a location for the semi-finals and final of the competition. This will be one week of European club football in one city.
This arrangement which is reportedly awaiting the approval of the European Leagues organization is believed to be a way of making the tournament more exciting, especially the final of the tournament.
Based on this arrangement, the semi-finals and the final of the competition would be held in one city within a week. As expected, the semi-finals will come up first, and the final will follow days after.
Some of the cities in Europe which could be considered to host the mini-tournament (UEFA Champions League semi-finals and final) are London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Istanbul, and Rome.
This kind of arrangement is not totally new to UEFA. Recall that due to the covid-19 pandemic, the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League campaign were held in Lisbon in August 2020.
After the mini-tournament, some football administrators, including Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint Germain who doubles as the chairman of ECA, praised the arrangement even though his club lost the final to Bayern Munich.
Other proposed changes in UEFA Champions League
Aside from the plan to make the UEFA Champions League semi-finals a one-legged format from the 2024-2025 season, other changes that will also take effect in the aforementioned season include the scrapping of the eight groups format.
In place of the group format, there will be a 36-team league format. The top eight clubs will automatically qualify for the next round of the competition.
The clubs that finished 9th to 16th on the league table will face the clubs that finish 17th to 24th on the league table in a 2-legged play-off.
Based on this new arrangement which will officially commence in the 2024-2025 season, each club is expected to play at least 10 games in the competition.