On Friday, 2nd July, Swansea will join 43 Champion teams from around Europe in the draw for the 1st Round of the 2021/22 Champions League.
It is the fifth time the club has represented Wales in the competition, including last year when they faced Cypriot team Apollon Limassol in a one-off knock-out game (the usual group stage was changed due to COVID).
This season will see a new format for the women’s teams, with 44 league champions joining in Round 1 (there is a separate stream for countries whose 2nd/3rd placed teams can also qualify); for the Champions stream, which Swansea will join, there is now only two pots, seeded and unseeded, with two from each pot being drawn to form groups of four, which will continue to play in a single host country.
Instead of all four clubs playing each other as per the old arrangement, the competition is knock-out from the start; a seeded team will face one of the non-seeds in their group and the winner will go on to play the victor of the other fixture, with the winner of that game progressing to the 2nd Round and the two losers having a third-place play-off. The 2nd Round continues to be knock-out over two legs, with the Group Stage now coming after this and before the quarter-finals.
You can read more about the changes on the UEFA website.
In addition to changing the structure of the competition, UEFA have also redesigned the financial distribution model, with leagues benefitting, not just competing clubs. Depending on how far our representatives progress in the competition, the seven other clubs could receive ‘solidarity payments’ for future club development. The stakes have therefore never been higher for our entrant into the competition and Swansea will be determined to better Cardiff Met’s record, whose 2019/20 campaign was the best performance by a Welsh team thus far.
There are plenty of familiar names joining Swansea in Round 1, including Apollon, Romanian side Cluj who were in their group in 2017/18, Pomurje of Slovenia (who faced Cardiff Met in 2019), plus Glentoran of Northern Ireland, Irish champions Peamount, Glasgow City who topped the Scottish Premier League as well as Juventus, Twente and Benfica.
The draw takes place on Friday at 12pm BST and can be watched live on UEFA.com, with the fixtures to be played on Wednesday 18th August and Saturday 21st August.
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