Champions League Rules: What Is the Format for UEFA Tournament?

ronaldo champions league

Getty Juventus take on Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16.

The UEFA Champions League is an annual tournament featuring the top soccer teams in the world. The Champions League has 32 teams who are divided into eight groups.

These groups are then widdled down to 16 teams. Here is how UEFA explains each stage as well as the seeding process.

UEFA Champions League, composed of:
– group stage (six matchdays);
– round of 16;
– quarter-finals;
– semi-finals;
– final.

Clubs are seeded for the qualifying phase, the play-offs and the group stage, in accordance with the club coefficient rankings established at the beginning of the season (see Annex D) and with the principles set by the Club Competitions Committee. If, for any reason, any of the participants in such rounds are not known at the time of the draw, the coefficient of the club with the higher coefficient of the two clubs involved in an undecided tie is used for the purposes of the draw.


How Do Teams Qualify for the Champions League?

The Champions League has long since expanded from the days of only the league champion qualifying for the tournament. Now the major leagues are given a certain number of spots. Typically, three premier league teams make the Champions League while another team makes the playoff round to qualify, per PremierLeague.com.

In normal circumstances, four UCL places are given to English clubs who fulfil the following criteria:

The top three teams in the Premier League qualify for the group stage proper.
The fourth-placed team in the Premier League qualify for the play-off round.


The Champions League’s Round of 16 Is Not Single Elimination

Unlike some other soccer tournaments, the Champions League does not become single-elimination once the Round of 16 begins. The Round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals all have two legs (home and away). Champions League uses aggregate goals to determine who advances to the next round, meaning the team with the most goals in the two matches advances.

Tiebreakers are used to determine who advances if two teams have the same amount of goals with away goals scored being the first tiebreaker, per UEFA.

For matches played under the knockout system, if the two teams involved in a tie score the same number of goals over the two legs, the team which scores more away goals qualifies for the next stage. If this procedure does not produce a
result, i.e. if both teams score the same number of goals at home and away, two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg. If both teams score the same number of goals during extra time, away goals count double (i.e. the visiting team qualifies for the next stage). If no goals are scored during extra time, kicks from the penalty mark determine which team qualifies for the next stage.

With the exception of the championship match, a draw is conducted after each stage to determine the matchups for the Round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals.



What Leagues & Countries Are in the Champions League?

The Champions League teams all come from one of the UEFA member associations throughout the world. Some of the top leagues include the Spanish Liga, English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Portuguese First Division, and French Ligue 1. Here is how UEFA describes the qualifying process, and how each league is designated their number of teams prior to the tournament.

UEFA member associations (hereinafter associations) may enter a certain number of clubs for the competition through their top domestic championship, in accordance with the association coefficient rankings, drawn up in accordance
with Annex D. No more than four clubs may qualify for the competition through each domestic championship. These rankings also determine the associations’ positions in the access list ( Annex A), which in turn determines the stage at which
each club enters the competition.

Associations are represented on the following basis:
a. one representative: winner of the top domestic championship;
b. two representatives: winner and runner-up of the top domestic championship;
c. three representatives: winner, runner-up and third-placed club in the top
domestic championship;
d. four representatives: winner, runner-up, third- and fourth-placed clubs in the
top domestic championship.

The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League titleholders are guaranteed a place in the group stage even if they do not qualify for the competition through their domestic championships.