From 2021, there will be three major club competitions in European soccer. The third tournament has been given the working title Europa League 2.
European competition is pretty much the pinnacle of club soccer. The Champions League is where we get to see the sport's best teams and players battle it out to be crowned the best in Europe and thus, no offense to other continents, but the best in the world. The one arena where the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich clash in a competitive fashion.
The next step down is the Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup. Europe's secondary tournament often gets a bad rap, probably because most of its matches are shown the night after two big evenings of Champions League soccer. However, the Europa League is also a stage for some big European Clashes to take place. Plus, winning the tournament earns a team a spot in the following season's Champions League.
However, the whole European soccer system is about to get a bit of a shakeup. This past weekend, UEFA announced that from 2021, Europe will have three major tournaments, as reported by BBC Sport. The third tournament has been given the working title "Europa League 2" for the time being. Its introduction will change the way in which clubs qualify for European tournaments.
As has always been the case, every country's league winner will earn a spot in the Champion's League. However, only clubs from the 15 top ranked countries will be entered into the Europa League. Both the Europa League and the new tournament will feature 32 teams starting off in eight groups of four. After that, there will be a playoff round between those who finished second in their Europa League 2 groups and the third-place teams from the Europa League to decide who joins the group winners in the first knockout round.
It probably all seems very complicated laid out like it is above, but on the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Not only will it give lesser European clubs the chance to progress further in a tournament, but it will also ensure more countries have clubs in the group stages. Right now, 26 countries are guaranteed to be represented in the group stages of the two European tournaments. Once Europa League 2 is introduced, that number will increase to 34.