Europa League format: How will the new system work?

  • Europa League will adopt a Swiss model from the 2024/25 season
  • Group stage ditched in favour of league table
  • 36 teams qualify for the competition
Atalanta were victorious in the 2023/24 Europa League
Atalanta were victorious in the 2023/24 Europa League / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

It's all change in Europe from 2024/25, with UEFA's club competitions undergoing significant format alterations.

Much of the discourse surrounding UEFA's newly introduced 'Swiss model' has centred around the Champions League. However, its younger sibling, the Europa League, will also adopt the new system.

While the Champions League remains the top dog, there's no denying the Europa's increased prestige in recent years. Sure, Sevilla might win it every other year, but the competition typically boasts teams more than capable of competing at the continent's top table.

The introduction of a third UEFA club competition, the Conference League, in 2021 aided the Europa League from a competitive standpoint. A streamlining of participants boosted its average quality and has ensured the journey from start to finish is less arduous but still incredibly rewarding.

So, what's the 'Swiss model' all about? Here are the format changes that will be made to the 2024/25 Europa League.

2024/25 Europa League format

Following the Conference League's emergence, 32 teams made up the Europa League's group stage. From 2024/25, 36 teams will qualify for what UEFA are calling a 'league stage'.

There are no more groups and a team's position in the league table will instead determine whether they progress into the knockout rounds.

Each team will play eight league stage games - four apiece home and away - in a bid to finish as high as they can in the league table. The top eight will advance directly into the round of 16, with teams finishing between ninth and 24th qualifying for the knockout play-off round. The remaining teams are eliminated and do not drop into the Conference League.

The eight winners of the play-off ties will join the top eight in the last 16.

From that stage on, the usual knockout format will ensue. Two legs - home and away - up until the final in Bilbao.

How does the 2024/25 Europa League league stage draw work?

UEFA Europa League draws in Monaco
The 2024/25 Europa League league stage draw will take place at the end of August / Anadolu/GettyImages

The 36 qualified teams are divided into four pots of nine based on their UEFA coefficients.

Now, teams won't be drawn into groups of four. Instead, the draw will determine their eight league stage opponents. Each team will be drawn against two teams from all four pots.

The 2024/25 league stage draw will be made following the conclusion of the play-offs on 29 August 2024 at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

When are the 2024/25 Europa League league stage fixtures?

  • Matchday 1: 25/26 September 2024
  • Matchday 2: 3 October 2024
  • Matchday 3: 24 October 2024
  • Matchday 4: 7 November 2024
  • Matchday 5: 28 November 2024
  • Matchday 6: 12 December 2024
  • Matchday 7: 23 January 2025
  • Matchday 8: 30 January 2025