Explained: How Europa League knockout stage works

Antony Manchester United 2022-23 Europa LeagueGetty

UEFA has tinkered with the formats of its continental club competitions over the years and the Europa League was recently tweaked to apply a different dynamic to the tournament's knockout stage, which also features drop-out Champions League teams.

Instead of the usual round of 32 leading into a last 16, the competition now features a knockout round play-off, which then feeds in to the last 16.

So how does the Europa League knockout stage work now? GOAL brings you everything you need to know.

Why does Europa League have a knockout round play-off?

The UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs were introduced in the 2021-22 season, along with European Conference League - which is a third tier for European football competitions.

A total of 16 teams take part in the Europa League knockout round play-offs. Eight of those clubs are the runners-up from the Europa League groups and the other eight positions are filled by the third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage.

20220906 Europa League trophyGetty Images

How does Europa League knockout stage work?

The Europa League knockout stage features a total of five rounds after the group stage, culminating in the final. Each knockout round is composed of a home leg and an away leg, with the final being played as a one-off decider at a neutral venue.

The Europa League rounds are as follows:

  • Group stage
  • Knockout round play-offs
  • Last 16
  • Quarter-final
  • Semi-final
  • Final

After the group stage ends, there is a draw for eight play-off games, in which the Europa League group runners-up and the third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage face off.

The winners of that round then take on the Europa League group-stage winners in the round-of-16. Following that, the tournament has four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final.

Previously, instead of a knockout play-off round, the Europa League had a round-of-32, where the Europa League group winners were seeded along with the four best Champions League third-placed teams. The unseeded teams were the 12 Europa League group runners-up and remaining four Champions League third-placed teams.

Who should be Man Utd's No.9 next season?

22406 Votes

Thanks for voting.

Results will be shared soon.

Who should be Man Utd's No.9 next season?

  • 32%Harry Kane
  • 53%Victor Osimhen
  • 6%Randal Kolo Muani
  • 9%Wout Weghorst
22406 Votes