Earlier today, UEFA announced they would be making changes to the format and kickoff times of the Champions and Europa Leagues. The changes will be going into effect for the 2018/19 campaign.
Staggered kickoff times
Let’s start with the most important change for Bayern Munich, those to kickoff times: taking a cue from the Europa League, the Champions League will now stagger their kickoff times, with the matches starting at either 6:55 or 9:00pm CET (i.e. 12:55 or 3:00pm EST). The staggering of games will very likely benefit Bayern Munich, especially in countries where broadcasters favor matches featuring Real Madrid and Barcelona or teams from the English Premier League.
26 automatic entrants
Substantial changes also affect qualification in relation to country coefficients. Beginning in the 2018/19 season, 26 teams will gain automatic entry to the group stages with six spots remaining for other teams to qualify for. The previous year’s Champions and Europa League winners still receive an automatic bid. The top four Premier League teams all now also will automatically qualify, along with the top four finishers from Germany, Italy, and Spain. The top two finishers from Russia and France automatically qualify and the champions of Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium and Turkey round out the 26.
Qualifying for the final spots
The final six spots will be filled via qualifying. The champions of the associations ranked eleventh and below will compete for four of the spots. This part of the tournament will now include a preliminary mini-tournament featuring four teams, followed by three qualifying rounds. Whichever teams finish third in the fifth and sixth ranked associations and the runners-up of the associations ranked seventh through fifteenth will compete for the final two spots via a three-round qualifier.
And one quick reminder: the Champions League final will be held on June 1, 2019, in Madrid.