New Champions League format: How it works, who Arsenal could face

Arsenal are set to compete in the 2024/25 Champions League, but how will the new format work, and who might the Gunners face?

The Champions League is changing this season, with Arsenal qualifying for the new 36-team version of the tournament in 2024/25. Let’s have a look at how it will work.

What is the new Champions League format?

The UEFA Champions League trophy during the draw for the UEFA Champions League 2023-2024 at The Grimaldi Forum in the Principality of Monaco. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The new competition will begin with a “league stage”, with all 36 clubs ranked against each other in one big league table. The table will be determined by points, three points for a win and one for a draw.

Each club will play eight matches in the league stage, with four at home, and four away. But the matches will be against eight different teams, you’ll only play each opponent once.

After that, the competition will move to the knockout stages.

The teams finishing in the top eight in the league stage will progress directly to the round-of-16, whilst teams nine to 24 will enter a two-legged play-off round to try and join the top eight.

Teams finishing 25th or below in the league stage will be eliminated, and they won’t drop into the Europa League. The losers of the play-off round will also not drop into the Europa League.

From the round-of-16 onwards, the competition will play out as it normally does, with two-legged knockout ties until the single-leg final.

The knockout stages will be partially seeded, with your league finish giving you an easier path against worse opponents if you finished higher in the league table. But there will still be a seeded draw to determine your exact opponents.

Who could Arsenal face in the league stage?

2024/25 Champions League projected pots via @FootRankings on Twitter

The 36 teams will be split into four pots, based on their individual club coefficients determined by their European performances over the last five seasons.

Each team will then face two teams from Pot 1, two teams from Pot 2, two teams from Pot 3, and two teams from Pot 4. You’ll face two teams from your own pot regardless of which one it is, so there’s little benefit to being in a higher pot.

Arsenal will definitely be in Pot 2, and there have been some early projections at the full list (as shown above). But these are only predictions, with some qualifiers still to be played.

Are there any country restrictions?

Unlike in previous seasons, Arsenal could face another English team in the league stage.

Teams from the same association will mostly be kept apart, but associations with four or more teams in the competition (like the Premier League) could play one match against another team from the same country.

When will the matches be played?

Arsenal team photo during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first-leg football match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Arsenal Stadium, in north London, on April 9, 2024. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

League Stage

Arsenal will play one match on each of the eight league stage matchdays, listed below.

  1. Matchday 1: 17–19 September 2024
  2. Matchday 2: 1/2 October 2024
  3. Matchday 3: 22/23 October 2024
  4. Matchday 4: 5/6 November 2024
  5. Matchday 5: 26/27 November 2024
  6. Matchday 6: 10/11 December 2024
  7. Matchday 7: 21/22 January 2025
  8. Matchday 8: 29 January 2025

Knockout Stage

If Arsenal finish 1st-8th in the league stage, they’ll then jump to the round-of-16. If they finish 9th-24th, they’ll play in the knockout round play-offs, giving the team an extra two games in February.

If they finish 25th-36th, their participation in European competition will end on January 29th.

  • Knockout round play-offs: 11/12 & 18/19 February 2025
  • Round-of-16: 4/5 & 11/12 March 2025
  • Quarter-finals: 8/9 & 15/16 April 2025
  • Semi-finals: 29/30 April & 6/7 May 2025
  • Final: 31 May 2025

When are the draws?

English former football player Joe Cole shows the paper slip of Arsenal FC during the draw for the 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League football tournament at The Grimaldi Forum in the Principality of Monaco, on August 31, 2023. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The draw for the league stage will be held on August 29th, 2024.

The knockout round draw will be on January 31st, 2025. The draw for the remaining rounds will be held on February 21st, 2025.

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