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UEFA Conference League

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This competition will take place for the first time this season and is designed to give chance to lower ranked teams  to qualify in a Europeans competition. In total there will be 184 teams playing throughout the whole competition starting with the qualifying rounds which the first legs of the first round has already been played. The fixtures will take place on Thursdays as the Europa League and the time slots will be equally split either at 18:45 CET or 20:45 CET.

 As happens in the Champions League and Europa League there will be three qualifying rounds and the teams that win on aggregate pass to the next round. Once the qualifying rounds are over there will be 32 teams playing in the elite part of the competition (group stages). In the group stages there will be 17  teams that qualify through the UEFA Conference League main path which means those teams that have been in the qualfying rounds, 5 teams from the UEFA Conference League champions path and 10 teams eliminated from the UEFA Europa League play-offs. The teams in the qualifying rounds are not all in the pot, Tottenham (England) will start the competition from the last round of the qualifiers, from the play offs because they play in a higher league level.

The format of this competition has a slight change to that of the Champions League but based on the format we know, there will be 8 groups of 4 teams in  each group. Those teams that finish first will automatically qualify for the round of 16, while those teams that finish 3rd in their respective group in  the Europa League will be playing a play off game against the runners up team from each of the 8 groups of the Conference League. The winners of the  play off games will be drawn up against the winner of the group. After the round of 16, it will be a normal knockout stage as happens in the Champions League with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. The winners of the competition will play in the Europa League the following season if they hadn’t enter the Champions League through their league.

The first ever goal scored in this competition was by Mosta FC player Evo Ememe Christ against Spartak Trnava (Slovakia) which saw the Maltese side win in a thrilling game which ended 3-2. Birkirkara and Gzira United were also involved in this competition, Birkirkara won 1-0 against La Fiorita (San Marino) and Gzira drew against Saint Julia, a team from Andorra. The 2nd legs will be played this week.

From Europe’s top 5 leagues : La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), Premier League (England),  Bundesliga (Germany)  and Ligue 1 (France)  only one team will qualify for this new competition. Nations that are ranked 6th to 15th will have two teams, nations ranked 16th to 50th  will have three teams. The other nations will also have three teams but have to go through the qualfying rounds.

This will be a great opportunity for small clubs to gain experience against better teams, also for the federations, this will be a step forward and something to aim for because now the chances are higher to qualify in a European competition.  The final will be played on the 25 May 2022 in Tirana, Albania. The National Arena was built in 2019 with the help of UEFA ‘s HatTrick assistance programme.

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