Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

What Happens to Teams That Finish 3rd in Champions League, Europa League Groups?

The Champions League is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious club football tournaments worldwide. Teams compete throughout the season to qualify for the tournament proper, where they are then placed into groups of four. While the format will change for the 2024/25 season, the current group stage remains intact. In this article, we will explore what happens to teams that finish third in the Champions League and Europa League groups, including the tiebreaker rules that determine their fate.

champions league to europa league

What Happens to Teams That Finish 3rd at the Champions League Group Stage?

Currently, UEFA organizes three European competitions: the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Europa Conference League. The Champions League is the most prestigious among them, featuring renowned European clubs. In the group stage, the top two teams progress to the knockout rounds. However, if a team finishes third in the group, they are demoted to the Europa League and join that tournament at the knockout round.

Tiebreaker Rules During the Champions League Group Stage

In the group stage of the Champions League, teams play each other twice, once at home and once away. Like in conventional football, wins earn three points, draws earn one point, and losses earn none. Additionally, goal difference plays a crucial role. If two or more teams finish with the same points, a series of tiebreakers come into play to determine their final positions. The tiebreaker rules, as per UEFA’s official tournament regulations, are as follows:

  1. Points obtained in group matches played among the teams in question
  2. Superior goal difference from group matches played among the teams in question
  3. Goals scored in group matches played among the teams in question
  4. Reapplication of criteria 1-3 exclusively to the matches between the remaining teams
  5. Superior goal difference in all group matches
  6. Goals scored in all group matches
  7. Away goals scored in all group matches
  8. Wins in all group matches
  9. Away wins in all group matches
  10. Disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards
  11. UEFA club coefficient
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What Happens to Teams That Finish 3rd at the Europa League Group Stage?

The Europa League group stage follows a similar format to that of the Champions League. Teams play each other twice, both home and away, with points awarded accordingly. The top two teams advance to the Europa League knockout rounds, while the team finishing third is demoted to the Europa Conference League and secures a place in its knockout rounds.

Tiebreaker Rules During the Europa League Group Stage

The tiebreaker rules used to determine the final group stage positions in the Europa League closely resemble those in the Champions League. If teams have identical records, the following tiebreakers will apply:

  1. Points in head-to-head matches among the tied teams
  2. Goal difference in head-to-head matches among the tied teams
  3. Goals scored in head-to-head matches among the tied teams
  4. If more than two teams are tied, the above criteria will be reapplied exclusively to the subset of tied teams
  5. Goal difference in all group matches
  6. Goals scored in all group matches
  7. Away goals scored in all group matches
  8. Wins in all group matches
  9. Away wins in all group matches
  10. Disciplinary points (direct red card = 3 points; double yellow card = 3 points; single yellow card = 1 point)
  11. UEFA club coefficient

FAQs

Q: Will the format of the Champions League group stage change?
A: Yes, starting from the 2024/25 season, the Champions League group stage will have a revamped format under new UEFA guidelines and legislation.

Q: How many European competitions are organized by UEFA?
A: UEFA currently organizes three European competitions: the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Europa Conference League.

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Q: What happens if two teams finish with the same points in the group stage?
A: In such cases, several tiebreakers are applied, including goal difference, goals scored, wins, and disciplinary points, among others.

Conclusion

Qualifying for the knockout rounds of the Champions League and Europa League is the primary goal for teams in the group stage. However, those finishing third also have a chance to compete in the Europa League or Europa Conference League, depending on the competition. The tiebreaker rules ensure fair determination of final group stage positions. As the landscape of European football evolves, teams will continue to strive for success on the continent’s grandest stages.

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