A new edition of the UEFA Champions League is set to kick off the 2023-2024 soccer season. The most powerful teams of the respective European leagues met their opponents on August 31 in Nyon, where the draw for the group stage of the world’s biggest club competition occurred.
First of all, the teams have been divided by drums, according to their UEFA coefficient. From there, the first balls to be drawn were those in Pot 1, i.e., the seeded teams. These eight teams are as follows: Manchester City (winner of the previous edition of the Champions League), Sevilla FC, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich (Germany), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Benfica (Portugal), Napoli (Italy) and Feyenoord (Netherlands). All of the above teams are champions of their respective national leagues (and possible stars in the UEFA Champions League final), except for Sevilla FC, which won its seventh Europa League crown.
Once all the balls are drawn from Pot 1, the UEFA representatives and guests will start to remove the balls from Pot 2 and so on, successively, until the end of Pot 4. The draw for the group stage will place four teams in groups but with two conditions: the first is that teams from the same country cannot play each other and, secondly, that they cannot compete against opponents from the same pot, at least in the regular stage.
So far, 26 teams have qualified for the new edition of the Champions League: Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Union Berlin, Napoli, Lazio, Milan, Inter Milan, PSG, Lens, Porto, Benfica, Salzburg, Red Star, Celtic, Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The remaining teams will be drawn from the preliminary round ties, played this week and next. Only six qualifying tickets for the continental competition remain: Maccabi Haifa-Young Boys, Royal Antwerp-AEK Athens, Rakow Czestochowa-Copenhagen, Molde-Galatasaray, Rangers-PSV, and Sporting Braga-Panathinaikos, are the pairings where the remaining six clubs will be drawn.
As has become customary every year, the UEFA Champions League divides the qualified teams into four different pots according to their UEFA coefficient.
Pot 1: Manchester City, Sevilla, Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona, Benfica, Napoli and Feyenoord.
Pot 2: Real Madrid, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig, Porto and Arsenal.
Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk, Salzburg, Milan, Lazio, Red Star, Real Sociedad, Celtic, Union Berlin.
Pot 4: In Pot 2, so far, only two teams have qualified, English side Newcastle and French Side Lens. The remaining six will be drawn from the qualifiers mentioned above.
The highest European soccer body, UEFA, has officially informed the dates of the new edition of the Champions League. The group stage will start on September 19-20, 2023, with the first clash and will end on December 12-13 with the last and sixth match day.
Matchday 1: September 19/20, 2023
Matchday 2: 3/4 October 2023
Matchday 3: October 24/25, 2023
Matchday 4: November 7/8, 2023
Matchday 5: November 28/29, 2023
Matchday 6: December 12/13, 2023
Once the group stage has been completed, it is the turn of the knockout rounds: they will begin with the round of 16 in the second week of February and will end at Wembley (London), with the UEFA Champions League final on June 1, 2024.
Round of 16: February 13/14/20/21 and March 5/6/12/13 2024
Quarterfinals: April 9/10 and 16/17, 2024
Semi-finals: April 30/May 1 and May 7/8, 2024
Final: June 1, 2024
The story of the Champions League trophy
The winning team of the UEFA Champions League is presented with a cup, which has had two different designs throughout the history of this tournament. From its first edition in 1955 until 1965, the first version of the cup was given, which had to be returned months later. The UEFA Executive Committee allowed Real Madrid to keep that first trophy in March 1967, as it was the team with the most championships to date. The trophy had been donated to the newspaper L’Équipe at the beginning of the tournament.
From the 1966 edition of the UEFA Champions League, the trophy was replaced by a silver cup weighing eight kilos and seventy-four centimeters high, which Jörg Stadelmann designed.
In the 1968 edition, it was introduced a new rule: the trophy would become the property of every team that won the championship three years in a row or five years in succession, and a new cup with exactly the same design would be produced for the following editions. Tournament champions who failed to complete the cycle would have to return to the cup two months before the date on which the following year’s final was to be played, although they would receive a smaller-scale replica in return. This was the case until 2007.
Since the 2008 edition, UEFA has retained permanent ownership of the trophy, ensuring that the authentic one is never transferred as private property. Instead, the championship-winning team is presented with a replica trophy and a commemorative badge as a symbol of recognition. The only clubs with authentic trophies in their trophy cabinets are Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, and Liverpool.