UEFA Tweaks Champions League to Enter More Top Teams Automatically Into Group Stage

The top four leagues in Europe will have their top four finishers automatically entered into the Champions League group stage.
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Premier League clubs have been handed a huge boost in their hunt for UEFA Champions League qualification, after UEFA unveiled new rules which will be implemented ahead of next season's campaign. 

Under the new rules, the top four teams from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga will gain direct qualification into the group stages, and thus no longer have to qualify via a number of playoffs.

Liverpool, for example, finished fourth in the Premier League last season and consequently had to overcome Hoffenheim over two legs to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League. The restructuring means that if Klopp's side were to do the same this season, they would instead qualify directly. 

In total, UEFA released five key changes which have been made to the two European competitions: 

"Twenty-six teams now gain direct entry to the UEFA Champions League group stage – including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League winners – with six qualifying places available.

"Every team eliminated in UEFA Champions League qualifying will get a second chance in the UEFA Europa League.

"Seventeen teams now gain direct entry to the UEFA Europa League group stage, with ten teams directly transferring from the UEFA Champions League play-offs and third qualifying round plus 21 qualifying places in two different paths (UEFA Europa League champions and league paths).

"There will be a preliminary round in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League (played as a knockout mini-tournament) and UEFA Europa League (played as two-legged ties).

"There is no change to the formats from the group stage onwards but there will be staggered kickoffs – 18.55CET and 21.00CET – in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League."

In the Premier League, the battle for fourth place remains tight with Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United separated by just six points. Arsenal are 10 points behind fourth-placed Spurs, but will gain qualification to the Champions League if they win the Europa League.