The 12 founding clubs of the Superliga have a guaranteed place without meeting purely sporting criteria
The Champions League will also change: league format and 36 teams instead of 32
A new actor enters, the Conference League, who will tighten the calendar even more
The announcement of the irruption of the Super League, competition devised by the great European teams to ensure a fixed place every year and, consequently, succulent income in their boxes, has caused an earthquake in the panorama of European football. Both UEFA and major league domestic competitions (LaLiga, Premier, Legue1, Bundesliga and Serie A) have harshly attacked the founding teams. They consider that this new competition has no place in an impossible calendar, in addition, increase even more if possible the difference between the most powerful teams with the most modest, who are trying to access the highest continental competition on their own merits.
Superliga, goodbye to their own sporting merits
The sport’s own merits will end since the new Super League begins. At least 15 great historical clubs will play yes or yes in this competition. Another 5 will be invited according to criteria that have not yet been clarified.
The calendar is the one there is and there are no more dates. The big teams, with the League, Cup and Super League matches, can hardly fit their matches in the Champions League and less so with the new format announced by UEFA, with more teams involved and, consequently, more matches.
The Champions League is in serious danger despite the announcement of its renewal. And to this is added a new guest, the Conference League. The schedule will be tighter than ever.
We review the different competitions in detail one by one:
Super league, fingered
How they are classified:
The Super League format would end one of the essences of football: rewarding teams for their own merits. In this new competition there will always be the greats, thus ensuring participation even if they have had a discreet season. The Super League will be made up of 20 teams, but there will always be the 15 most important teams on the continent: for now, los 12 fundadores Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético, Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter, Juve, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City y Tottenham. Three other clubs will be invited to join before the inaugural season.
On this list historical figures such as PSG or Bayern Munich would be missing, although they have not yet spoken. The other five remaining spots will be awarded annually based on the previous season’s performance., although it does not clarify the criteria, if they are teams that are part of the major leagues (Premier, Serie A, Liga, Bundesliga or Ligue 1) or if other clubs from other competitions can enter. They would be the “lucky ones” who could participate alongside the rich.
The games will be played during the week, all clubs will continue to compete in their respective national leagues, thus preserving their traditional calendar. It would start in August, like the first matches of the qualifying phase of the Champions League.
The 20 clubs will be divided into two groups of ten, which will play back and forth matches. The top three from each group qualify automatically for the quarterfinals. And the teams that finish fourth and fifth will play an additional two-legged playoff. Subsequently, two-party playoffs will be played from the quarter-finals to the final, which will be played as a single game, at the end of the year, at a neutral venue.
With this measure, the organizers seek more attractive duels and increase income. The historical ones are awarded but many clubs are penalized that on their own merits deserve to compete with the greats. Clubs like Milan or Arsenal, which have reduced their presence in the Champions League in recent years, will be there but others like Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla or Olympique de Lyon could lose this new showcase.
The Superliga will lose the surprise factor in the pure draw. In the Champions League, the big clubs could be left out from the round of 16 depending on the pairing in the draw.
As soon as possible, the founders will announce the same format for women’s football.
Champions League: previous league
The UEFA Champions League has been forced to change its format for the coming seasons. In the highest continental competition for clubs, so far, 32 teams participated. There are eight groups with four teams in each group, although by UEFA rule there cannot be two teams from the same country in one group. The clubs in the groups face each other back and forth and the top two finishers go to the next round, the round of 16. The third classified of each group goes to the Europa League.
To settle the knockout stages, there is a draw marked by a series of criteria: two teams from the same domestic competition cannot meet in this phase and the first classified of a group is measured against the second classified of another group. Already in the quarterfinals there is a pure draw, without limitations. This ‘surprise’ factor would be lost by the Super League, a competition that would only hold a draw that will settle the 10 participants in each group, although they have not yet gone into details.
The Champions League is also aware that its format had to change. Therefore, from the 2024-2025 season They have devised a format similar to that of the Super League, but according to purely sporting criteria. In this new edition 36 teams would enter instead of the 32 that currently compete and the eight groups will disappear, becoming a single league, even if they will not play all against all. Each team will play a minimum of ten games – now they play a minimum of 6 games – in this first phase against opponents of different coefficients. The first eight will qualify for the eighth and there will be a playoff between the ninth and the twenty-fourth to know the other eight classified. The losers of that playoff would go to the Europa League.
To determine which matches each team will play, it will be drawn in four pots taking into account the positions in the leagues.As up to now and, as a novelty, the latest performances in the competition will also be taken into account.
UEFA Europa League: with hardly any news
In the UEFA Europa League the champions of the respective cup competitions of each country, the best classified of the different leagues that were behind those that did it for the Champions League, the third group of the Champions League and three more teams according to the ranking ‘ UEFA fair play ‘. It consists of four previous rounds of direct elimination. The final phase of the tournament is made up of a group phase – 12 groups of four teams each – in which each club faces each of its three rivals in a double game. Later, the direct crosses arrive from the round of 32 with round-trip matches except for the final, which is played as a single match in a stadium previously designated by UEFA.
In the Europa League there will be a previous playoff between the group runners-up and the third group of the Champions to determine who goes directly to the round of 16.
Domestic competitions, as always
The League has not changed the format. The 20 teams play a total of 38 games each. The first four qualify for the Champions League, the fifth and the Copa del Rey champion qualify for the UEFA Europa League. If the Cup champion is a club that has qualified for the Champions League, a new place is added, the one that is sixth in the League. The last three classified are automatically relegated to the Second Division. In the silver division, the first two move up to the First Division and the teams that remain between the third and sixth place play the playoffs to get the only place left to be promoted.
The Conference League, the new European competition
As a novelty, this season another place in each domestic competition will be designated to a new competition, the Conference League.
In this new competition, created by UEFA, a total of 184 teams will participate throughout the season, including at least one from each of UEFA’s 55 member associations and 46 from the Champions League (eliminated from the qualifying rounds) and the UEFA Europa League (eliminated from the qualifying rounds or group rounds). Before the final group stage there will be three qualifying rounds and one playoff round.
The final phase will follow the same format that the Champions currently has with eight groups of four teams, followed by direct confrontations: eighths, quarter-finals and the final, the latter a single match. It will start this summer. In its first edition, it will be played at the National Arena in Tirana (Albania) on May 25, 2022.