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With FC Barcelona’s victory in the final of the UEFA Champions League in Berlin still fresh in the mind, attention is already turning to next season’s edition of Europe’s premier club competition. It all starts on June 30, with the first qualifying round, and won’t end until May 28 when the San Siro in Milan is the venue for the 2016 Final.
Barça are among the 22 teams that for different reasons are already through to the all-important group stage. They will also be one of the seeds following the introduction of the new rule that the winners of the seven highest ranked leagues in Europe will be the top seeds, the others being Bayern, Chelsea, Benfica, PSG, Juventus and Zenit. These seven were to be joined by the defending champions. But that side is Barça, who are already seeded as Spanish Liga champions. The extra place should instead go to the beaten finalists. However, Juventus are also already seeded after winning Italy’s Serie A, so the winners of the eighth highest ranked league in Europe, PSV of Holland, go into pot number one.
La Liga will also be represented in the group stage by Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, as well as Sevilla, who have become the first beneficiaries of the new rule that awards a berth to the winners of the previous season’s Europa League. None of these teams can be drawn in the same group as Barça.
The other eleven teams that go straight into the groups are Manchester City, Arsenal, Wolfsburg, Borussia Monchengladbach, Roma, Porto, Lyon, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent, Galatasaray and Olympiacos.
Ready for first draw
The remaining 56 teams will be playing a series of qualifying rounds to decide the ten clubs that will join the previous 22 in the draw to be held in Monaco on August 27.
The draws for the first two qualifying rounds will take place on June 22 and from here the teams will be whittled down to fifteen, who will be joined by Valencia, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting Lisbon and Lazio in the final play-off round.
30/06 to 08/07
14/07 to 22/07
28/07 to 05/08
18/08 to 26/08
15/09 to 09/12
Round of 16
16/02 to 16/03
05/04 to 13/04
26/04 to 04/05
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