Champions League and Europa League Explained

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League begin their group stages this week. The competitions kick off on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Champions League and Thursday for the Europa League.

Despite there being no playoffs for soccer leagues around Europe, there is however two prestigious Continental Cup competitions that go between July and May. During those months, the best teams from each European League (excluding Liechtenstein) will compete for the UEFA Champions League Title or the Europa League Title.

One way to compare this fairly easier would be to think about it like college basketball. The comparison is quite similar, The Champions League is equivalent to March Madness, while on a smaller scale, the Europa League is what the NIT is. A total of 78 teams started in the Champions League and in the Europa League the number is raised to 158, plus a few more that drop into the Europa League at certain points during the tournament.

Teams qualify for the Champions League based on their finish in the standings. The better the league is, the more spots that are allocated to the country. In contrast, Europa League qualifiers will qualify from winning the league cups and also from top teams around Europe that don’t get to take part in the Champions League. The one small exception is the winner of the Europa League, gets to take part in the Champions League the next year.

Here is the groups for the Champions League:

Real Madrid is a heavy favorite to come out of
Real Madrid is a heavy favorite to come out of the Champions League.

 

Group A

  1. Paris Saint-Germain (France)
  2. Real Madrid (Spain)
  3. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
  4. Malmo FF (Sweden)

Qualifications: Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid must advance to knockout phase. Plus,  Shakhtar Donetsk transferred to Europa League. Group A matches will be played today.

 

Group B

  1. PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
  2. Manchester United (Switzerland)
  3. CSKA Moscow (Russia)
  4. Wolfsburg (Germany)
Qualifications: PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United need to advance by making it to knockout phase, whereas CSKA Moscow is a transfer from Europa League. Group B matches also begin today.

Group C

  1. Benfica (Portugal)
  2. Atletico Madrid
  3. Galatasaray (Turkey)
  4. Astana (Kazakhstan)

Qualifications: Benfica and Atletico Madrid advance to knockout phase, Galatasaray transfer from Europa League. Group C play begins today.

 

Group D

  1. Juventus (Italy)
  2. Manchester City (Switzerland)
  3. Sevilla  (Spain)
  4. Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

Qualifications: Juventus and Manchester City advance to knockout phase, Sevilla is a Europa League transfer. Group D play starts today.

 

Group E

  1. Barcelona (Spain)
  2. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
  3. Roma (Italy)
  4. BATE Borisov (Belarus)

Qualifications: Knockout phase for both Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen. Roma and BATE Borisov are Europa League transfers. Play also begins today.

 

Group F

  1. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  2. Arsenal (England)
  3. Olympiacos (Greece)
  4. Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Qualifications: Knockout phase for Bayern Munich and Arsenal. Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb are transfers from Europa League. Play starts September 16th.

Group G

  1. Chelsea (England)
  2. Porto (Portugal)
  3. Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine)
  4. Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Qualifications: Knockout phase for Chelsea and Porto. Dynamo Kyiv  and Maccabi Tel Aviv are transfers from Europa League. Play starts September 16th.

 

Group H

  1. Zenit Saint Petersburg (Russia)
  2. Valencia (Spain)
  3. Lyon (France)
  4. Gent (Germany)

Qualifications: Knockout phase Zenit Saint Petersburg and Valencia. Lyon and Gent are transfers from Europa League. Play starts September 16th.

 

Top two teams from the groups will advance to the knockout stage where there will be a two legged series until the Final which is just one game. In the group stage, teams will play each team twice for a total of 6 games. The third place team drops down to the Europa League knockout stage.


Here are the groups for the Europa League:

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 08: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Group A

  1. Ajax (Greece)
  2. Celtic (Scotland)
  3. Fenerbahce (Turkey)
  4. Molde (Norway)

Qualifications: Ajax and Celtic will advance to knockout stage. Fenerbahce and Molde transfers from Champions League. Play begins September 17th.

Group B

  1. Rubin Kazan (Russia)
  2. Liverpool (England)
  3. Bordeaux (France)
  4. Sion (Switzerland0

Qualifications: Rubin Kazan and Liverpool for knockout, both Bordeaux and Sion are transfers. Play begins on September 17th.

 

Group C

  1. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  2. PAOK (Greece)
  3. Krassnodar (Russia)
  4. Gabala (Azerbaijani)

Qualifications: Borussia Dortmund and PAOK for knockout, the rest are league transfers. Play starts September 17th.

 

Group D

  1. Napoli (Italy)
  2. Club Brugge Belgium)
  3. Legia Warsaw (Poland)
  4. Midtjylland (Denmark)

Qualifications: Napoli for knockout phase, the rest are transfers. Play begins September 17th.

Group E

  1. Villarreal (Spain)
  2. Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic)
  3. Rapid Wien (Austria)
  4. Dinamo Minsk (Russia)

Qualifications: Villarreal for knockout phase, the rest are league transfers. Play begins September 17th.

 

Group F

  1. Marseille (France)
  2. Braga (Portugal)
  3. Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic)
  4. Groningen (Netherlands)

Qualifications: Marseille will have to advance to knockout phase, the rest are league transfers. September 17th is when league starts.

 

Group G

  1. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine)
  2. Lazio (Italy)
  3. Saint-Etienne (France)
  4. Rosenburg (Norway)

Qualifications: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk advance to knockout, the remainder are league transfers. Play begins this Thursday.

 

Group H

  1. Sporting CP (Portugal)
  2. Besiktas (Turkey)
  3. Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)
  4. Skenderbeu Korce (Albania)

Qualifications: Sporting CP for knockout, the rest from the league.

Group I

  1. Basel (Switzerland)
  2. Fiorentina (Italy)
  3. Lech Poznan (Poland)
  4. Belenses (Portugal)

Qualifications: Basel and Florentina for knockout, the rest from league transfer. Play starts on September 17th.

 

Group J

  1. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  2. Anderlecht (Belgium)
  3. Monaco (France)
  4. Qarabag (Azerbaijan)

Qualifications: Tottenham and Anderlecht for knockout, Monaco and Qarabag league transfer. September 17th is when they start.

 

Group K

  1. Schalke 04 (Germany)
  2. APOEL (Italy)
  3. Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
  4. Asteras Tripoli (Greece)

Qualifications: Schalke 04 and APOEL advance to knockout, Sparta Prague and Asteras Tripoli will be league transfers. Play for them begins on September 17th.

 

Group L

  1. Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
  2. AZ (Alkmaar)
  3. Augsburg (Germany)
  4. Partizan (Serbia)

Same thing for the Europa League as the Champions League, six games and top two go to Round of 32. 3rd place in groups go home.

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