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The first round of the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League are over and that means a bracket mapping out the rest of the competition is now here. While it may seem out of the ordinary to have to wait until there are only eight teams left to get a bracket, compared to other soccer tournaments like the World Cup, it's a regular feature of the Champions League in its current format. UEFA treats each stage of the competition like an individual event, including separate draws for the group stage and the round of 16, before a final draw for the quarterfinals that sets the stage for the rest of the tournament.

Champions League Bracket

What's the current structure?

After the qualification process, UEFA does three draws during the course of a Champions League season: a group stage draw, a round of 16 draw and a draw ahead of the quarterfinals that will confirm each team's paths to the final on June 1 at London's Wembley Stadium.

Will this structure change next year for the new format?

The Champions League is switching to the Swiss model beginning next season, which will see an expanded field and new method of competition. Starting next season, the first stage of the Champions League will have 36 teams rather than 32 and will replace the group stage with a league stage. In the league stage, each team will play eight matches -- up from six in the group stage -- and will be ranked in a single table to determine who advances to the knockouts.

The knockout stages will also look different next season. The teams ranked first through eighth in the league stage will advance directly to the round of 16, while those ranked ninth through 24th will face each other in the knockout round playoffs for a spot in the next round. From the round of 16, the Champions League will resume a familiar format.

UEFA will once again have three draws next season but will introduce the bracket earlier than it has in the past. The league stage draw will take place on Aug. 29, while the knockout round playoffs draw will be staged on Jan. 31, 2025. The round of 16 draw, meanwhile, that will also establish the bracket for the remainder of the tournament, will take place on Feb. 21, 2025.

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