Bayern Munich and Thomas Müller are regular contenders for the UEFA Champions league, but how do they qualify each year? - © IMAGO / Sven Simon / Frank Hoermann / Pool
Bayern Munich and Thomas Müller are regular contenders for the UEFA Champions league, but how do they qualify each year? - © IMAGO / Sven Simon / Frank Hoermann / Pool

How does European qualification work in the Bundesliga?


With the UEFA Champions League format getting a revamp as of 2024/25, how many Bundesliga clubs could qualify for the new 36-team competition? explains how it all works...

Find out more about how European football is structured

UEFA Champions League

The old format of eight groups of four teams came to an end in 2024. That previously saw four guaranteed berths for the Bundesliga go straight into the group stage. In 2022/23, there were five German teams after Eintracht Frankfurt also won the UEFA Europa League to qualify.

From 2024/25, the competition has been expanded to 36 teams competing in one single league, known as the league phase, which is replacing the old group stage, against eight different teams, four home and four away.

All results go into the overall table, with the top eight progressing automatically to the round of 16. Teams placing ninth to 24th will compete in a two-legged knockout to join the top eight, from where the competition continues in the format we currently know.

The Bundesliga, as one of the top five leagues per UEFA’s coefficient, has retained four automatic qualification berths. That means the teams that finish first, second, third and fourth in the 2023/24 Bundesliga earned the right to compete in the 2024/25 Champions League.

Watch: Bayern Munich won the Champions League as recently as 2020

There is, however, the potential for an extra qualifier via league positions. Two of the additional four berths in the new format are given to the associations with the highest club coefficient from the previous season. That is to say the two countries with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous year’s European competitions.

Those two associations will each earn one more automatic place in the league phase for the club ranked next-best in their domestic league behind those clubs that have already qualified directly for the league phase, either via their league position or as winners of the Champions League or Europa League.

The Bundesliga was one of the first beneficiaries of the 'European Performance Spot', finishing second behind Italy's Serie A in the 2023/24 co-efficient. As a result, Borussia Dortmund in fifth place also qualified for 2024/25.

You can see the latest club coefficient rankings from UEFA here (you want to order the table by the most recent season, not overall). Note that any additional fifth qualification spot may only be confirmed after all European fixtures have been played for that season and the top two associations are confirmed.

It is also worth remembering that the holders of the Champions League and Europa League both automatically qualify, regardless of their league positions. This can see additional places for domestic leagues if those winners finish outside of allocated positions.

Eintracht Frankfurt won the 2022 Europa League to qualify for the Champions League. - Imago

UEFA Europa League and Conference League

The Europa League has also been expanded to 36 teams in a single league following the Champions League format. The same goes for the Conference League.

However, the rules for qualification remain the same for teams in Germany. There are still two berths for the Europa League league stage and one for the Conference League play-off round.

Ordinarily, the team in fifth and the team that wins the DFB Cup qualify directly for the Europa League group stage, with sixth going into the Conference League play-offs.

However, if the winner of the DFB Cup has already finished in the top six in the Bundesliga, then sixth place will gain entry to the Europa League, with seventh going into the Conference League play-off. It is not the runner-up in the Cup who benefits, should the winner have already qualified.

In the case of a Bundesliga team winning the Conference League, then they will automatically compete in the Europa League, unless they have already secured a spot via the Bundesliga in the Champions League, where they will compete. If they are already in the top six, this will not affect the allocation.

Conditions for qualification and the right for clubs to compete in European competition are subject to change and approval by UEFA.