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All about the Champions League/Group Stage Summary 

By: Tejas W.

It’s that time of year! And no, I don’t mean spring. It’s Champions League time! Every soccer fan yearns for those European nights under the floodlights (sounds poetic). You are probably wondering, “What is the Champions League?” well, here’s the gist of it. 

Every year, the top 1-4 teams in each European league, including the “Top 5” leagues (English Premier League, Spanish LaLiga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, and French Ligue 1), qualify for the UEFA Champions League (UCL), a tournament in which 32 teams compete for ultimate European glory, therefore making them the best team in the world. 

The first stage is the group stage. The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4. Each team plays 6 total games only played against the other teams in the group. Each team in a group will face off twice. There is a point system. A win is 3 points, a tie is 1, and a loss is 0. The two teams in each group with the most points advance to the knockout stage. 

The second stage is the knockout stage, which consists of four rounds: the round of 16, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final. Each matchup has 2 “legs”, or games, that are each played at one of the two teams’ stadiums. The only exception is the final, which is one match that is played at a stadium that belongs to neither of the teams. Instead of simply moving on after a win, an aggregate score is used. In other words, whichever team has the most total goals in the two matches moves on to the next round. However, if there is a tie on aggregate, there are two possibilities. 

Possibility #1: Away goals 

Let’s say team A and team B tied the first game at team A’s stadium, 2-2, and they tied the second game at team B’s stadium, 1-1. The aggregate score is 3-3, but team B moves on. “Why?” you ask. Well, since team B scored 2 goals away from their home stadium (at team A’s stadium), and team A only scored one goal away from their home stadium (at team B’s stadium), team B wins on away goals. 

Possibility #2: Extra time 

If two teams are tied on both aggregate scores and away goals, the second leg would go to extra time. A normal soccer match is 90 minutes long, with 45-minute halves. Extra time is 30 additional minutes, with 15-minute halves. If the score is still tied after extra time, the game goes to a penalty shootout, in which each team takes 5 penalties, and whoever scores more wins. 


The group stage ended on December 13, 2023. All told, the league with the most teams that made it to the knockout stage was the Spanish LaLiga, with 4, followed by a tie between the Italian Serie A and the German Bundesliga, each with 3. Next was the English Premier League with 2. The French Ligue 1, the Dutch Eredivisie, the Portuguese Liga Portugal, and the Danish Superliga each had 1. 

The teams that qualified were: 

  • Manchester City (Premier League) 

  • Arsenal (Premier League) 

  • Barcelona (LaLiga) 

  • Real Madrid (LaLiga) 

  • Atletico Madrid (LaLiga) 

  • Real Sociedad (LaLiga) 

  • Inter Milan (Serie A) 

  • Napoli (Serie A) 

  • Lazio (Serie A) 

  • Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) 

  • RB Leipzig (Bundesliga) 

  • Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga) 

  • PSG (Ligue 1) 

  • PSV Eindhoven (Eredivisie) 

  • FC Copenhagen (Superliga) 

  • Porto (Liga Portugal) 


I’ll be back next issue for the knockout summary! This is Tejas Waring, The Coe Times Soccer Journalist. Thanks for reading The Coe Times! 

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