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Champions League Qualifying Explained: Draw, dates, format, who enters when and more

Real Madrid got the better of Borussia Dortmund in the 2023/24 Champions League final at Wembley, but it can be a long road for some teams to even make the group stage and qualifying matches for the 2024/25 campaign have already started.

Here is everything you need to know about how the qualifying stages of Europe’s top club competition work, with six places up for grabs for the group stage.

2024/25 UEFA Champions League

Champions League qualifying format

A total of 52 teams will enter Champions League qualifying and they will be divided into the Champions Path and the League Path.

The Champions Path will consist of 42 teams who won their domestic leagues last season, while 10 teams will contest in the League Path.

Five teams from the Champions Path and two from the League Path will go through to join the other 29 teams who have already been allocated a place in the group stage.

Some teams in both sections will be seeded or receive passes through rounds which are based on the Uefa Club Coefficients at the start of the season.

In the Champions Path, 28 teams will face off in 14 matches, which will feature a seeded and an unseeded team.

The winners will then be joined by 10 teams who were automatically allocated a second-round qualifying round place, to form 12 matches.

The victors in those games will then contest six third-round qualifying matches and the winners of those will be joined by four more teams to decide which five clubs will go through to the group stage.

In the League Path, four teams will contest the second qualifying round and the two victors will join six others in the next round.

Four teams will then go through to play for two group-stage places in the play-offs.

Which teams will face off in qualifying?

The draw for the first qualifying round of the Champions Path has already been made and these are the fixtures:

Champions Path

  • Slovan Bratislava v Struga
  • The New Saints v Decic
  • Borac Banja Luca v Egnatia
  • Hamrun Spartans v Lincoln Red Imps
  • UE Santa Coloma v Ballkani
  • Flora v Celje
  • KI v Differdange
  • Panavezys v HJK
  • RFS v Larne
  • Vikingur Reykjavik v Shamrock Rovers
  • Virtus v FCSB
  • Ludogorets v Dinami Batimi
  • Ordabasy v Petrocub Hincesti
  • Dinamo Minsk v Pyunik

League Path

The League Path starts at the second qualifying stage with two fixtures:

  • Lugano v Fenerbahce
  • Dinamo Kyiv v Partizan

The following teams gain an automatic place in the Second Qualifying Round in the Champions Path. They are:

  • Apoel
  • Ferencvaros
  • PAOK
  • Bodo/Glimt
  • Malmo
  • Sparta Prague
  • Midtjylland
  • Jagiellonia Bialystok
  • Qarabag
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv

The following teams gain an automatic place in the Third Qualifying Round in the League Path. They are:

  • Rangers
  • Slavia Prague
  • Red Bull Salzburg
  • Lille
  • Union Saint-Gilloise
  • Twente

The following teams gain an automatic place in the Playoff round. They are:

  • Dinamo Zagreb
  • Red Star Belgrade
  • Young Boys
  • Galatasaray

Champions League qualifying round dates

First Qualifying Round

Matches in the First Qualifying Round will be played on 9th-10th July and 16-17th July.

Second Qualifying Round

Matches in the Second Qualifying Round will be played on 23rd-24th July and 30th-31st July.

Third Qualifying Round

Matches in the Third Qualifying Round will be played on 6th-7th August and 13th August.

Playoff Round

Matches in the Playoff Round will be played on 20th-21st August and 27th-28th August.

Who drops into the Europa League and Europa Conference League?

Teams involved in both the Champion Path and the League Path will still have the opportunity to be involved in either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

Here is where the teams defeated during the Champions League qualifying process will end up:

Champions Path

Twelve of the 14 first-qualifying round losers will enter the Europa Conference League Champions Path second-qualifying round, while two teams will receive a bye to the third-qualifying round.

The 12 losers in the second-qualifying round will enter the Champions Path third-qualifying round in the Europa League.

The six losers in the third-qualifying round will enter the Europa League play-off round while the five play-off losers will enter the Europa League league phase.

League Path

All teams who lose in the League Path will go into the Europa League.

The two losers in the second-qualifying round will go into the main path third qualifying round while the losers in the League Path third qualifying round and play-off round will enter the league phase.

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