With the first round of knock-out ties having been drawn on Friday we’re here to give you a zippy run down of what the heck the UEFA Women’s Champions League actually is (no, you can’t eat it).
Q: Can American/NWSL teams enter it?
A: No, it’s a UEFA competition.
Q: That seems offensive.
A: That’s not a question.
Q: Okay, then who is in it?
A: It changes every year, but this season it features teams from 50 different UEFA member countries – countries ranked in the top 12 (by coefficient) automatically have the champion and runners up of the top tier entered into the league, the other 37 nations (as well as unranked Armenia) only have the league winners entered. Fun fact…
Q: Is it a fun fact, or is it boring af?
A: Moving on.
Q: So there are 51 teams involved? That seems dumb.
A: Before the knock-out round [of 32], there’s a preliminary round that sees 40 teams (the champions from the 38 lowest ranked nations, plus the two lowest ranked runners up) divided into ten groups with the winners advancing.
Q: So the preliminary round has already happened?
A: Yes, the ties were played on the 7, 10 and 13 of August.
Q: And did anything interesting happen?
A: Mitrovica became the first Kosovan side to reach the knockouts when they topped their group, likewise Vllaznia will be the first Albanian team in the round of 32. Arguably favourited to top their group of four, Braga progressed at the first time of asking as Anderlecht surprised Norwegian champions, LSK to finish top and make their first appearance in the knockouts.
Q: Are there any other debutantes?
A: Swedish champions, Piteå are making their UWCL bow as both the Swiss (Lugano) and Russian (Chertanovo Moscow) runners up are too.
Q: How are ties decided?
A: The teams are split into two pots, those unseeded and those seeded – seeding is based on coefficients built up over previous UWCL appearances…
Q: But that seems rough on the debutantes
A: It is and it’s usually why you see the seeded teams progress from the first two rounds (seeding in ditched for the quarterfinals onwards when it becomes a free-for-all).
Q: Are we likely to see any upsets in the first round?
A: It’s not likely that all 16 seeds will progress: Braga will like their chances against PSG, Arsenal are certainly capable of beating Fiorentina (who did not have a good time against Chelsea last season), Piteå will certainly be happy to have drawn Brøndby and I like Minsk’s chances against Zurich. But it’s the UWCL, even though all ties are two-legged, something weird (re: unexpected) usually happens.
Q: Has the pay-structure changed for this season?
A: Why yes, yes it has. It used to be €20,000 for participation in each round (bar the final), with a seperate bonus for each round of defeat (€20,000 for the round of 32, €30,000 for the round of 16, €40,000 for the quarterfinals and €70,000 for losing in the semi-finals), with an extra €200,000 for losing the final and €250,000 for winning it. This season the structure has radically changed with clubs making €70,000 for participating in the first round, €75,000 or the second, €80,000 for the quarters and €85,000 semi-finals with the overall runner up pocketing €100,000 for their appearance in the final and the winners banking €150,000.
Q: Imma get an abacus…
A: Basically, everyone makes more.
Q: Where can I watch matches?
A: Any other questions… It depends on where you are (for some reason B/R Live have the rights until 2021 in the USA) and who is playing who. German broadcasters are pretty good about airing matches, but on German tv, a theme you’ll find throughout Europe. Some teams will stream matches live on YouTube – Twitter and “streams” are your friend, that’s all we’re saying.
Q: Are Lyon going to win.
Q: Seriously, are Lyon going to win?
A: Lyon in the Champions League is a lot like the US women’s national team at the World Cup: they’re favourites for a reason. However, they can be beaten over the course of a season (but they do get extra hard to beat in European competition) and there is always hope that a team will get it right [for at least 90 minutes].
Q: So where are Lyon going to win their next Champions League final?
A: If Lyon claim a seventh UWCL title this season, they will do so at the Viola Park in Vienna on 24 May.