UEFA Women's Champions League: Key dates and new format explained

Manchester City will compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the sixth consecutive season in 2021/22.

A second-place finish in last season’s FA Women’s Super League (WSL) ensured Gareth Taylor’s side qualified for Europe’s elite club cup competition once again, which has been revamped ahead of the upcoming campaign.

A brand-new format has been introduced and you can find out everything you need to know, including all the key dates and when City will enter the tournament, below.

What’s new

For the first time in its history, the Women’s Champions League will feature a 16-team group stage, which replaces the knockout Round of 16. The top two in each of the four groups will progress to the quarter-finals.

The top-six ranked national football associations as per the Women’s Association Club Coefficients will each enter three teams. Previously they only entered two and it means Arsenal join City and Chelsea in this season’s tournament. The associations ranked seven to 16 will each enter two teams and all others will enter one team – their domestic champion.

Two qualifying rounds will precede the group stage and will be split into champions and league paths, which will ensure at least 10 nations feature in the group stage.

The first round will adopt a mini-tournament format, with semi-finals, a third-place match and finals. Round Two will be home and away ties.

The away goals rule will no longer be applied. In a knockout game, if the scores are level after 90 minutes, 30 minutes of extra time will be played and, if the scores remain tied, the game will be settled by a penalty shootout.

Format

Round one

The draw for Round One has already taken place, with 59 teams involved in 15 mini-tournaments.

Forty-three clubs entered via the champions path, which includes all league champions who do not qualify directly for the group stage.

Sixteen teams are involved from the league path. These are clubs who did not win their respective domestic league.

Those in the in the champions path were divided into 11 mini-tournaments. 10 of these included four teams, with one featuring only three teams in which the highest ranked club received a bye to the final of the mini-tournament.

The clubs in the league path were divided into four mini-tournaments of four teams.

The winner of each mini-tournament will qualify for the second round.

Round two

The second round will be played over two legs and this is when City will enter the tournament in the league path.

The 11 winners of the champions path will be joined in Round Two by Sparta Prague, BK Hacken and Hoge, with seven teams progressing to the group stage.

The four winners of the league path will be drawn alongside City, Lyon, Wolfsburg, Slavia Prague, Rosengard and Real Madrid. Five will qualify for the group stage.

Group stage

Defending champions, Barcelona, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Chelsea enter the competition as the 16 teams are split into four groups.

Clubs will play each other home and away over six matchdays, with the top two from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Knockout stage

The format remains unchanged, with home and away ties in the last eight and semi-finals, before a one-off final, which will be played at the Juventus Stadium.

Key dates

Round One

  • Semi-finals: 18 August
  • Final: 21 August

Round 2

  • Draw: 22 August
  • First leg: 31 August/1 September
  • Second leg: 8/9 September

Group stage

  • Draw: 13 September
  • Matchday 1: 5/6 October
  • Matchday 2: 13/14 October
  • Matchday 3: 9/10 November
  • Matchday 4: 17/18 November
  • Matchday 5: 8/9 December
  • Matchday 6: 15/16 December

Knockout stage

  • Quarter-final and semi-final draw: 20 December
  • Quarter-final first leg: 22/23 March
  • Quarter-final second leg: 30/31 March
  • Semi-final first leg: 23/24 April
  • Semi-final second leg: 30 April/1 May

Final: 22 May.

How to follow City in the Champions League

The UEFA Women’s Champions League has agreed a four-year global broadcasting partnership with streaming platform DAZN, together with YouTube, which will begin in the 2021/22 season.

Should City reach the group stage, fans will be able to watch every game thereafter for free on DAZN’s YouTube channel.

As always, you can follow every game live on our dedicated matchday Twitter account: @ManCityWomen, with a match report available to read on mancity.com immediately after the full-time whistle.

A full-match replay will be available on CITY+ from midnight after the game.

City’s European history

City made an instant impact after making our debut in the competition in 2016/17.

In our first two seasons, Nick Cushing’s side reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Lyon in our maiden campaign, and being edged out by the same side in 2017/18.

However, since then we have failed to go beyond the quarter-final stage.

In 2018/19 we fell at the first hurdle, losing to Atletico Madrid in the Round of 32, who got better of us for a second time in the last 16 stage the following year.

Convincing victories over Goteborg and Fiorentina saw Gareth Taylor guide City to the quarter-final stage in his first season in charge, but our European dreams ended with a 4-2 defeat on aggregate to Barcelona, who went onto lift the trophy.

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