Getting into the Champions League Schedule
The Champions League soccer schedule is what all European club soccer fans hope to be involved in. If your team is in the Champions League, they had success the year before in their domestic league and are in a position to bring in big revenues and reach continental glory.
The Champions League schedule allows big teams to play smaller teams and gives us some massive matchups between champions from different leagues. The qualifying typically starts in June and runs for five rounds before the group stage starts in August. The group stage runs through December before the knockout rounds go from February to the end of May.
While clubs host games throughout the competition, the Champions League Final is played in a predetermined stadium. The final is typically held on the last Saturday in May but this schedule can fluctuate in World Cup and European Championship seasons.
Introduction to the Champions League
The Champions League is operated by the Union of European Football Associations, better known as UEFA. All teams that play domestic league soccer in Europe are eligible. All European leagues get a domestic ranking, called a coefficient. This ranking determines how many spots each league receives in the various European competitions and at what stage the teams enter.
Leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and Bundesliga get the most teams, and they usually go straight to the group stage. Countries like Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Romania, and Poland that are lower ranked will see their league champions enter the various qualifying stages or playoff rounds and have to win multiple games to reach the group stage.
The qualifying rounds are home-and-home two-legged ties, and there are three qualifying rounds before the playoff round. The winners of the playoff round enter the group stage, of which 26 of the 32 teams are automatic qualifiers.
The group stage is eight groups of four teams playing a double round robin so each team gets six games, three at home and three on the road. The top two teams from the groups advance to the knockout round which is a 16-team tournament. Each round is a home-and-home two-legged tie until the final.
History of Champions League Schedule
The Champions League was introduced in 1955 and was initially a straight knockout tournament. As its popularity grew, so did the competition with more teams allowed in, and the event added a group stage in 1991. The Champions League allowed more than one team from countries starting in 1997 and later expanded to include a qualifying round and even more qualifying rounds.
UEFA is always looking for ways to expand the Champions League schedule and get even more lucrative games to sell to media partners and for ticketing purposes. More games also mean more betting odds and marketing opportunities.
Main Events on Champions League Schedule
The beauty of the Champions League is that each round is a blind draw so none of the matchups are set in stone. In the group stage we could get a “Group of Death” including multiple champions in the same league. While teams are seeded and put into pots, that doesn’t prevent a group from including matchups like Juventus v. Barcelona or Manchester City v. Borussia Dortmund.
The knockout round is where the real blockbuster matchups come into play to bet on. Theoretically the 16 best clubs in Europe are in the knockout round and after the quarterfinals, teams can play other teams from their league. Real Madrid v. Bayern Munich, Barcelona v. Liverpool, AC Milan v. Manchester United, PSG v. Chelsea are all matchups we can see and bet on in the knockout rounds.
Champions League Main Venues
All of the best stadiums in Europe are in play to host Champions League games. Stadiums and football associations bid to host the final which has been played at Wembley Stadium, Stade de France, Stadio Olimpico, Hampden Park, San Siro, Olympiastadion, Santiago Bernabeu and more.
The club stadiums host the game before the finals so Manchester United’s Old Trafford, Liverpool’s Anfield, Bayern’s Allianz Arena, Barcelona’s Camp Nou and all the biggest stadiums in Europe are routinely Champions League venues.
After Covid-19 Details
The Champions League season returned to normal following the COVID-19 shut down of 2020. In 2020 the league changed the schedule and format to play a one-month knockout round all in Portugal. In 2020-21 there were some stadiums and cities that were still not at capacity but that went back to normal for the 2022 Champions League.
UCL Schedule Frequently Asked Questions
Qualifying starts in June so technically the Champions League schedule is year-round. The Group Stage is from August to December with games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The knockout round is also on Tuesday and Wednesday from February to April with the Champions League Final on a Saturday in late May or early June.
The Champions League group stage schedule has six games for each team. The knockout round has 16 teams playing home-and-homes. For a team to win the Champions League, they have to play seven games in the knockouts. Assuming the champion doesn’t come from the qualifiers, and they haven’t yet, the champion will play 13 games.
The draws go by round, so August’s group stage is drawn. The round of 16 is drawn in December, and each knockout round is drawn the week after the previous round is completed.
Champions League games are played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all at night in Europe. The final is played on a Saturday night, European time.