2021/22 Champions League: What's new?

Tuesday 24 August 2021 14:00

We’re all looking forward to Thursday’s Champions League group-stage draw, when Manchester United will discover the three teams we will face in Europe prior to Christmas.

The clubs in Pot 1 have already been confirmed, while Pots 3 and 4 (United are in Pot 2) will be rubberstamped on Wednesday evening.

But what about new things coming into force for this season? Is there a new ball? Where will the final be played?

Here are four things to look out for…

United's history with away goals article

After UEFA abolished the 56-year rule, we take a look at how it's affected the Reds over the decades.

NO AWAY GOALS

Probably the biggest change to this season’s tournament doesn’t apply to the group stages but will become a huge discussion point when the knockout rounds begin next February. After 56 years, UEFA has abolished the away goals rule, meaning ties that are level after 180 minutes will now go straight to extra time and, if necessary, penalties, regardless of the respective scores in each leg. Perhaps that’s good news for United, as we’ve been knocked out of Europe on the rule no fewer than six times!

FANS ARE BACK!

Full capacity stadiums have returned in England since all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted at the end of July and so 70-odd thousand Reds will be able to enjoy Champions League football at Old Trafford for the first time since April 2019. However, attendance arrangements differ around Europe: crowds in Spain and Germany are still capped, while France has left the decision on whether to fill stadiums to capacity up to individual clubs. It’s not yet clear whether away fans will be permitted at matches, with UEFA and FIFA confirming that travelling supporters are banned from attending September’s internationals due to a recent spike in COVID cases.

United fans at the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in 2019, the last time we had a crowd at a home Champions League game.

NEW BALLS, PLEASE!

adidas has released a new official match ball for the 2021/22 campaign – and it’s a stunner! The Finale Pyrostorm features the instantly recognisable star pattern, with solar red and solar yellow joining white and black in the colour scheme. For those fixtures played in deep, dark winter, there’s also a luminous orange version.

The Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

FINAL VENUE

This year’s showpiece event was originally intended to be played at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, which last hosted the final in 2012. However, after the 2020 showdown between Bayern and PSG was relocated from Istanbul to Lisbon, the final hosts were shifted back a year and Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium will now be the venue where the trophy will be lifted in May.

Home to Zenit, who have qualified for this year’s competition as Russian champions, the stadium was opened in 2017 ahead of the World Cup, where it hosted seven games including the semi-final and third-placed play-off. It will be only the second time the final has taken place in Russia, and we have fond memories of the first

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