If you have been tuning in to bet365 Sport over the last couple of days, then you may well have noticed that alongside the standard UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League ties that are being contested at the preliminary stages, there is also a brand new UEFA tournament being played for the first time.

That is the UEFA Europa Conference League, but how does it fit in with UEFA’s two other big European club competitions in the football calendar? What teams will participate in it, who are amongst the favourites to win the inaugural tournament this year?

These are all good questions and before you head out and splash out some of your cash, or perhaps some of those remaining bet365 Bet Credits, on the tournament, we thought it best to explain more about it to put it into a sharper focus.

This is especially the case if you are based in the United States and have placed a bet on a team with BetRivers Sportsbook and are now wondering what this new tournament is and how it has come into being.

Let’s begin with the most obvious question.

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What is the UEFA Europa Conference League?

Many years ago, there were three European club competitions teams could play for. The European Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup. However, a reshuffle at UEFA saw the Cup Winners Cup disbanded and instead an expanded UEFA Cup was introduced.

The formation of the Champions League from the old European Cup expanded that tournament markedly and soon, the UEFA Cup also enjoyed its own rebrand,  becoming the Europa League.

Now, this season, the Europa Conference League will take place, becoming the third club competition teams can play for over the course of the season.

Qualification for this tournament is very complicated however, but the aim of the numerous preliminary rounds is to be one of the 32 teams to make it through to the Group Stage of the tournament.

At various points throughout qualifying, teams eliminated at the preliminary stage of the Champions League and Europa League will get a chance to earn a shot at the title in this tournament.

16 teams (the top two from each group) make it into the Round of 16, which then follows the format of the Champions League, with a quarterfinal, semi final and lastly a final to decide the winner, with all games bar the final played over two legs. The draw for the Group Stage will take place on the 27th August.

22 Teams will qualify from the Preliminary Rounds of this tournament, with the ten losers of the Europa League Playoff Round dropping into this competition.

The winners of the first Europa Conference League will receive a place in the Europa League next season, unless they have qualified for the Champions League by another means, if they win this trophy.

Are Any Top Teams Playing In The Europa Conference League This Season?

Yes, there are a number of big teams in this tournament, some of whom have won other top European competitions, or at least reached the finals of the Champions League or Europa League.

Some of the teams competing in the tournament this year are: Aberdeen (Scotland), Tottenham Hotspur (England), Rosenborg (Norway), Rennes (France), Anderlecht (Belgium), Feyenoord (Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark), AS Roma (Italy), Trabzonspor (Turkey), CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) and FC Basel (Switzerland).

That list does not include any of the ten teams that will join the competition for the Group Stage draw on Thursday from the Europa League Play Offs.

When Will The Europa Conference League Games Take Place

The Europa Conference League Games will take place on a Thursday night alongside the games in the Europa League.

This means that there will be Champions League action on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Europa League and Europa Conference League action on Thursday nights when the Group Stages of each competitions are announced.

Who Are The Favourites To Win The First Europa Conference League?

This is a tough one to call at the moment as we don’t know who the 32 teams will be thatPremier League numbers qualify for the Group Stage of the competition. However, given the teams that we do know are competing in this tournament, it is likely that the likes of AS Roma and Tottenham Hotspurs would top the list of betting at the moment.

However, bet365 is not offering any odds on the outright winner of the tournament as yet, but that should change once the identity of the 32 teams that will compete in the Group Stage are known and the teams that drop into this tournament from the Europa League will likely radically affect the odds for the other 22 teams that qualified through this tournament’s pre-qualifying schedule.

So How Does The Conference League Fit In With The Europa League & Champions League?

Essentially, you now have three tiers of tournament for UEFA clubs to participate in each season. The Champions League is the elite tier and will feature the biggest and most successful clubs. The Europa League is the second tier of competition with the Europa Conference League the third.

The competitions are linked together. For example, the eight third placed teams in the Champions League Group Stage will drop into the Europa League at its Round of 32 stage. Similarly, teams from the Europa League qualifying Playoffs will drop into the Europa Conference League just before the Group Stage draw.

The aim of the Conference League is to not only give teams another trophy to aim for, but to allow developing and emerging nations in European football the chance to give their top teams more game time against more established teams from other countries, as previously many teams that were eliminated early on in the Europa League qualifying campaign, would not play any more games in Europe that season.

What Are The Games To Watch This Week In The Europa Conference League?

This week is the key week in deciding the 22 teams that will go forward into the Group Stage draw on Thursday. Tottenham Hotspur face a tough task after losing their first leg 1-0 to Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal last week, so I expect them to name a strong squad for the return leg in London.

Roma hold a slender 2-1 lead over Trabzonspor in their tie, while Aberdeen will need to come back from a 1-0 deficit in the first leg to overcome Qarabag at Pittodrie.

It’s better news for Union Berlin (v KuPS), Feyenoord (v Elfsborg) and Jablonec (v Zilina) as they hold 4-0, 5-0 and 5-1 first leg leads heading into the second leg tonight.

We will bring you updates from all UEFA Competitions over the course of the season, along with some of the best bets on all tournaments with bet365.