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UEFA Introduces Overhaul to Champions League Draw Format

by Thomaz Oseghale
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UEFA Introduces Overhaul to Champions League Draw Format

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The Champions League draw is set for an overhaul this summer as UEFA introduces new changes to the competition. The current format, which has been in place since the 1999-2000 season, will be replaced by a 36-team league phase.

This new format aims to reduce the number of dead rubbers, pit big teams against each other earlier in the competition, and place extra significance on finishing position in the league.

UEFA’s deputy general secretary, Giorgio Marchetti, acknowledged that the draw could take “three or four hours” if it continued to be conducted manually.

As a result, the draw will now involve a combination of manual and automated elements to streamline the process. UEFA assures that any automated elements will be independently audited to maintain fairness and avoid accusations of rigging.

Furthermore, UEFA will introduce a tennis-style seeding system from the last 16 onwards. This means that the top two teams from the league phase will be kept in separate halves of the draw, ensuring they cannot meet until the final.

The top four seeds, based on the new league table format, will also be kept apart until the semi-finals, incentivizing teams to finish as high as possible.

Although UEFA considered a “US draft” system, where clubs would pick potential opponents based on their seeding, they ultimately opted for the tennis-style seeding system. This decision aims to maintain fairness and prevent any potential controversies.

The league phase will also reserve two European performance spots (EPS) for teams from countries that performed well in the previous season’s European campaign.

Italy and Germany currently occupy these spots, but if they were to drop out, the fifth-placed teams in their respective leagues would gain the EPS.

This article was updated 1 month ago

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