After two and a half months of qualifying play, we’ve finally reached the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League! But before matches kick off on 20 September, the qualifiers had to be drawn into their respective groups.
Unlike the Champions League, where 32 teams compete at the group level, there are 48 teams in the Europa League tournament: 17 teams that enter directly at the Group Stage, 21 winners from the Europa League play-off round, 6 losers from the Champions League playoff round, and 4 League Path losers from the Champions League third qualifying round. The first and second place clubs from each group – as well as the 8 third-place teams from the Champions League Group Stage – will move onto the next round of Europa League, but that won’t happen until December after all group stage matches are played.
The 17 teams that are placed directly into the Europa League at the Group Stage are pulled from the following associations, based on the associations rank per the UEFA coefficient:
- 12 domestic cup winners from associations 1-12
- 1 domestic league fourth-placed team from association 5
- 4 domestic league fifth-placed teams from associations 1-4