The Europa Conference League is a new addition to the European football calendar this season and Tottenham begin their campaign this week as the Premier League’s sole representatives.
Telegraph Sport breaks down how the tournament will be structured…
What is the Europa Conference League?
Initially dubbed ‘Europa League 2’ (UEL2), the Europa Conference League is a new Uefa competition which is considered to be the third tier of European club football, below the Champions League and Europa League.
The competition will initially run for three seasons from 2021-2024 as Uefa assesses its viability. The competition began with qualifying rounds in July with the competition properly starting in September.
The thinking behind the new competition is to allow more teams to gain experience of playing European football.
Uefa President Aleksander Čeferin said: “The new Uefa club competition makes Uefa’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before. There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.”
How will the competition work?
After the three initial qualifying rounds, the last of which are played across August 19 and 26, the competition proper will follow a similar structure to the current iteration of the Champions League.
Thirty-two teams will qualify for the group stage, with those teams being divided into eight groups of four. There will then follow a traditional knockout format from the last-16 down to a final, with knockout matches played over two legs. As with other Uefa competitions, the away goal rule will apply.
In order to qualify for the knockout stages automatically, a team must win the group. The second place team in each group will enter a qualifying round for the knockout stage, where they will play against the third-placed teams from the Europa League groups. The winners of those matches will enter the last-16 of the Europa Conference League.
In all, 141 matches will be played over the course of 15 weeks during the tournament proper. The winner of the tournament will automatically qualify for the next season’s Europa League.
How many English teams qualified?
Only Tottenham qualified for the Europa Conference League. The place had been allocated to the EFL Cup winners, but Manchester City winning the competition meant the place went to the team who finished seventh in the Premier League which was Spurs.
Who are Tottenham playing?
Spurs finished a disappointing campaign last season with an entertaining 4-2 win at Leicester to keep hold of seventh place and ensure they will be English football’s first representatives in Uefa’s new tertiary competition.
They begin away to Portuguese outfit Pacos Ferreira, who have spent the vast majority of the last two decades in the top flight. Pacos Ferreira finished fifth in Portugal’s Primeira Liga last season. Their home stadium is Estádio da Capital do Móvel which has a capacity of 9,146.