The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League action commences on 26 June – exactly one month after Real Madrid won the trophy for the 13th time in Kyiv – following the semi-finals of the new preliminary round (draw 12 June).
Three more qualifying rounds follow before the playoffs at the end of August to confirm the group stage line-up. That phase starts on September 18 and runs every 2 or 3 weeks until 12 December. The knockout stages start on 12 February, with the season climaxing in Madrid on 1 June.
How the qualification work
26 of the 32 teams that'll contest the 2018/19 group stage are confirmed, and they'll be joined by 6 playoff winners in August. Those 6 teams will come through one of these qualifying paths:
Champions path – this route is for domestic title holders, starting with the 4 lowest-ranked countries in the preliminary round (played as a knockout mini-tournament in Gibraltar). The winners are joined by the next 31 lowest-ranked clubs in the first qualifying round, with the next 4 sides added at the following stage. The 10 winners plus another 2 new entrants then face off in the 3rd qualifying round, with the successful 6 then joined by 2 more teams in 4 playoff ties. Apart from the preliminary round, all ties are played over two legs, home and away.
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