With the 2011/12 season finished almost everywhere in Europe, we now know all but two of the teams who will participate in next season’s Champions League, and it is possible to work out the seeding for each round.
The format of the Champions League has changed a few times over the years, particularly in the qualifying stages. Since 2009/10, the qualifying rounds have been split into two distinct sections – one for Champions and one for non-Champions.
This idea was proposed by Michel Platini, who wanted more champions of smaller countries in the group stage. To some extent it has worked, with APOEL Nicosia making it to the quarter-finals of last season’s tournament.
22 teams are granted direct entry into the group stage. These places are given to the champions of the 12 highest ranked countries , the runners-up of the 6 highest ranked countries and the 3rd placed team in the 3 highest ranked countries.
The holders get a place in the groups if they haven’t already qualified, which is the case with Chelsea this year. Had Bayern Munich won the Champions League, the holder spot would have been vacated and the champions of the 13th ranked nation (R.S.C. Anderlecht) would have entered at the group stage.
The “Champions Pathway” features the national champions from the UEFA members outside the top 12, with the exception of Liechtenstein, who don’t have a league. There are four qualifying rounds, with the lower ranked countries entering earliest.
The “Non-Champions Pathway” features the lowest placed qualifiers from each of the 15 highest ranked UEFA leagues. This season, it will feature just 14 teams as a result of Chelsea’s success. UEFA rules state that no country is allowed to have more than four entrants in the Champions League, so fourth placed Spurs dropped into the Europa League. This section has just two qualifying rounds, with the lowest ranked countries entering earliest.
Scotland are ranked 15th in the UEFA league coefficients, so we only just scraped a second Champions League spot. With the poor performances in recent seasons, it is unlikely that we will have a second CL spot again for at least a few years.
First of all, a note about seeding. The seeding in both the Champions League and Europa League is based on the UEFA club coefficients, which are based on results in European competition over the past five years. Clubs which have not participated in Europe over that period are given a score based on their nation’s coefficient.
All the seeding information is taken from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a treasure trove of statistics and ranking information.
Motherwell will take part in this section of qualifying, and will enter at the 3rd Qualifying Round. Their potential opponents for their first tie are already known, but I’ll also look at who they could play if they make it through to the next round.
3rd Qualifying Round
Draw: 20th July
Matches: 31st July/1st August and 7th/8th August
Eight teams, including Motherwell, enter at this stage.
Despite being the first round in the non-Champions section, this round is referred to as the 3rd Qualifying Round because it runs parallel to the 3rd Qualifying Round in the Champions section.
The 8 teams participating in this round are all known, and Motherwell are unseeded. We only have four potential opponents – FC Dynamo Kyiv, Panathinaikos, F.C. København or Fenerbahçe S.K.
|FC Dynamo Kyiv||Club Brugge K.V.|
|Fenerbahçe S.K||Motherwell F.C.|
The teams who lose at this stage will enter the Europa League Play-off Round.
Draw: 10th August
Matches: 21st/22nd August and 28th/29th August
Six teams enter at this stage and are joined by the four winners from the previous round.
This round is drawn after the previous round is completed, so the seedings will only be known at that stage. The table below is merely speculative, and assumes that every single seeded side wins in the previous round.
|S.C. Braga||Fenerbahçe S.K|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv||Udinese Calcio|
|F.C. København||Málaga CF|
|FC Spartak Moscow||Borussia Mönchengladbach|
That previous table is slightly lacking in Scottish interest; I’m sure ‘Well fans will be interested to know who they might play if they manage to pull off a ‘shock’ in the previous round. In that case, their potential opponents would depend on the outcome of the other matches in the 3rd Qualifying Round.
If we assume that the other three matches go to seeding, then our potential opponents would be Braga and Spartak Moscow plus the other three seeded teams from the previous round. We’ve illustrated this below by assuming that we face and beat, for example, Fenerbahçe in the 3rd Qualifying Round, but the same applies if we beat Dynamo Kyiv, Panathinaikos or København (simply replace the beaten side with Fenerbahçe).
|S.C. Braga||Udinese Calcio|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv||Lille OSC|
|F.C. København||Borussia Mönchengladbach|
|FC Spartak Moscow||Motherwell F.C.|
If any the other ties in the previous round go in favour of the unseeded teams then Motherwell could potentially face Udinese or Lille. It is not possible that they could face Málaga or Borussia Mönchengladbach though – both of these sides are guaranteed to be unseeded in the Play-off Round.
The teams who reach this round are guaranteed a place in a group stage of some sort. The five winners progress to the Champions League Group Stage, while the five losers will drop down to the Europa League Group Stage.
Article adapted, with thanks, from: SPLstats blog