New Champions League format explained and what it means for Arsenal next season

The Champions League trophy is seen at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium ahead of the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 final between Manchester City and Inter Milan on June 07, 2023

Arsenal will be joined by Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa in the Champions League next season. The Gunners secured qualification to the tournament ahead of the north London derby in April, with four Premier League games to spare.

Thanks to Chelsea, who won a point at Villa Park in matchday 35, Unai Emery's side could no longer leapfrog Arsenal, therefore guaranteeing the north Londoners a Champions League spot. While Mikel Arteta was hoping to get his hands on some silverware, surrendering first place to the reigning champions, he didn't exactly walk away empty handed.

The Gunners won themselves a ticket to the Champions League group stage as their search for European glory continues. However, the tournament will take a different format to the one they last contested.

So, with that being said, has taken a look at the new-look competition and how it'll impact the Premier League clubs.

A new-look group stage

As always, some clubs will need to compete in three qualifying rounds before a play-off round in July and August just to book a place in the competition Instead of a standard four-team group stage as we know it, there will be a single 36-team league stage.

Each club will face eight different teams once, four at home and four away. The top eight qualify directly to the round of 16, while sides finishing from ninth to 24th will contest in the knockout round play-offs, with the winners of all eight two-legged ties going through to the last 16.

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Teams that finish 25th or lower will be knocked out of the tournament, with no escape route to the Europa League.

Knockouts go unchanged

From the last 16 onwards, the tournament then goes to a straight knockout format with two-legged ties – as done so previously. The final will then take place at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, on May 31, 2025.

When will the matches take place?

The Champions League and Europa League will hold their league phase from September to January, while the Conference League will run from September to December. Each of the three UEFA club competitions will have one exclusive match week, with no other competitions scheduled for that week.

The Champions League will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while the Europa League and Conference League host games on Thursdays. But, during the newly-introduced exclusive match weeks, the Champions League will be played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Europa League on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Conference League only on Thursday.

The final matchday in each competition will kick-off at the same time.

Important dates for your diary

The draw for the new-look league stage will take place on August 29, 2024, with match rounds pencilled in from September to January.

Matchday 1 – September 17 to 19, 2024

Matchday 2 – October 1 and October 2, 2024

Matchday 3 October 22 and October 23, 2024

Matchday 4 November 5 and November 6, 2024

Matchday 5 November 26 and November 27, 2024

Matchday 6 December 10 and December 11, 2024

Matchday 7 January 21 and January 22, 2025

Matchday 8 January 29, 2025

The draw for the knockout round play-offs, for the clubs finishing ninth to 24th, will be held on January 31, 2025, with the two legs set to be played on February 11/12 and February 18/19, 2025. The draw for the round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals will then take place on February 21, 2025.

Round of 16 March 4/5 and March 11/12, 2025

Quarter-finals April 8/9 and April 15/16, 2025

Semi-finals April 29/30 and May 6/7, 2025

Final May 31, 2025

According to UEFA, dates are, of course, subject to change.


The 2024/25 Champions League winners book themselves a place in the league stage 2025/26 competition, if they haven't already done so via their domestic league position. With numerous Premier League teams vying for a place in the top four, success in this tournament will be paramount.