21.02.2022

European competitions in 2022/23: where RPL teams will go

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We remind you about the quotas for the Champions League, the Europa League and the Conference League, which Russian clubs will play for during the spring through the RPL and the Russian Cup.

Champions League

Russian participants: RPL champions (group stage), RPL runners up (3rd qualifying round)

As things stand: Zenit (group stage), Dynamo (qualifiers)

For the current three-year cycle (2021/22, 2022/23, 2023/24 seasons) the RPL have two places in the Champions League. The RPL champions earn a direct ticket to the group stage, while the runners up will join at the third qualifying round in the "League Path".

Eight teams will perform at this stage: five will start directly, while three will join from the second round. The four winners will advance to the playoff round, where they will compete for entry into the group stage. The teams that lose in the third round and in the playoff round will automatically qualify for the Europa League group stage.

Russia has already trodden this path in the 2021/22 season. The country was represented in the Champions League by RPL winners Zenit and runners up Spartak. Spartak were knocked out of the third qualifying round after 2-0 defeats home and away to Benfica, and went to the Europa League. Zenit took third place in their group and dropped into the Europa league play-off round.

Europa League

Russian participants: Russian Cup winner (playoff round)

As things stand: 16 participants of the knockout stages

Russia's only place in the Europa League is earned through the Russian Cup. However, this season’s Russian Cup winner will not qualify directly for the group stage, but enter at the playoff round instead, since the winner of the Conference League will get a place in the group stage. If the RPL champions or runners up win the Cup, the Europa League spot will go to the RPL’s third-placed side. If a team from the Conference League-qualifying zone wins the Cup, they will compete in the Europa League, and the next team in the final RPL table will enter Europe’s third-tier competition.

A total of 20 participants will be announced for the playoff round. Six will enter directly as national Cup winners (Russia, Belgium, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria), eight from the third qualifying round, and six more losing teams from the "Champions Path" of the Champions League third qualifying round.

In the 2021/22 season, nine-time winners Lokomotiv entered the Europa League through the Russian Cup. The Railwaymen immediately qualified for the group stage, but finished last behind Marseille, Galatasaray and Lazio. Spartak, who entered the Europa League group stage as a Champions League qualification runner-up, became a group winner and qualified to the Last 16.

Conference League

Russian participants: RPL 3rd place (3rd qualifying round), RPL 4th place (2nd qualifying round)

As things stand: Sochi (3rd round), CSKA (2nd round)

Two Russian teams will be represented in the "Main Path" of qualification for UEFA’s third competition (the "Path of Champions" runs in parallel for those eliminated from the Champions League selection). The RPL’s 4th-placed team will join at the second round, where a total of 90 participants will compete; 36 who progress from the first round, and 54 directly through national leagues or Cups.

In the second round of qualifiers, seven teams from Portugal, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Turkey and Austria will join the 45 winners of the second round. Twenty-six participants will play in the playoff round having advanced from the third round, as well as five teams from the top five countries according to the UEFA coefficient table (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France) and three more who have been eliminated from the Europa League third qualifying round.

The Conference League was launched in the 2021/22 season. Sochi and Rubin participated in the tournament from Russia, but they failed to qualify. Sochi knocked out Azerbaijani side Kesla in the second round on their European debut, but in the next round they lost to Partizan Belgrade. Rubin lost in the third round to Polish outfit Rakow.

UEFA Youth League

Russian participants: RPL club youth teams (group stage, if the main team plays in the Champions League groups), YFL-1 champions (1st qualifying round of the "Domestic Champions Path")

As things stand: Zenit (group stage, RPL leaders’ youth side), Krasnodar (qualifying round, leader of the YFL-1)

The youth tournament is divided into two parts: the "Champions League Path" and the "Domestic Champions Path". The first path copies the Champions League group stage both in terms of the number of participants (32), the composition of the groups and the schedule. Domestic youth championship winners from 32 countries go into the second path, if they are not already participating in the "Champions League Path". Here Russia is represented by the winner of the Youth Football League-1 (players under the age of 19).

At the first stage of the "Domestic Champions Path", the participants hold two qualifying rounds, the confrontations consist of two games. According to their results, eight teams will advance to the playoffs and face opponents who finished second in the group stage. The group winners advance directly to the Round of 16. All playoff contests are held in a one-match format.

In the 2021/22 season from Russia, only Zenit played in the UEFA Youth League. In the 2020/21 season, the senior side won the RPL, and the youth team were champions of the YFL-1. If the winner of the country's youth championship has already entered the "Champions League Path", the “Domestic Champions Path” spot is transferred to the champion of the next country according to the UEFA associations rankings.


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