The Champions League returns for 2021-22 and Europe’s elite club competition has been tinkered with since it’s last iteration as UEFA have updated the rule book
Four English clubs will be affected as this season’s group stage begins on Tuesday evening.
Liverpool were European champions in 2019 and Manchester United are looking for their first crown since 2008, when the recently-returned Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal helped them to victory during his first stint at Old Trafford.
The Premier League’s finest will have to abide by new rules, some of which will make this edition feel vastly different to past iterations.
UEFA via Getty Images)
The first big change is that away goals no longer count as double in the event of a tie on the scoreboard.
The rule, introduced in 1965, led to a tendency for home sides to focus on not conceding as an away team attempted to knick a smash and grab result.
Any second-leg draws this season will go to extra-time and then a penalty shoot-out if required, regardless of how many goals are scored by each team when they were the visitors.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin explained their summer abolishment by saying: “The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams – especially in first legs – from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.
Who do you think will win the Champions League this season? Comment your prediction below.
Cefirin added: “There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.”
Meanwhile, the amount of substitutes has remained in place, with up to six substitutes allowed since the tournament resumed for its latter stages in July 2020 during the global pandemic.
It will remain in place this year, with five allowed over 90 minutes and an additional change permitted during extra-time.
In terms of who will be able to watch the matches, the governing body have not announced any updates on the criteria for attending matches in relation to vaccine passports.
Supporters who attended Euro 2020 games and the Super Cup final between Europa League winners Villarreal and Chelsea were required to give some sort of document to confirm their Covid-19 status, whether that be full vaccination or a negative PCR test.
A blanket ban on away fans was in place for the qualifying rounds of UEFA’s three European club tournaments this term.
The ban was lifted following the September international break, allowing Manchester United fans to be the first travellers from England on their trip to Switzerland as the Red Devils face BSC Young Boys on Tuesday.