The new UEFA Champions League and Europa League seasons kick off this week with a full slate of group stage games in both events. It’s the first full season for CBS as the English-language broadcaster after taking over from Turner, while Univision continues to be the Spanish-language broadcaster.
Here’s a guide to how to watch the action on TV and online.
In English via CBS
Every game of the Champions League and Europa League will be available via the subscription service CBS All Access, which costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. There’s also a commercial-free tier for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
American soccer fans have gotten to know CBS All Access well this year, because it had NWSL games and UEFA games during the summer.
For the Champions League, there will be live games on CBS Sports Network and the flagship CBS broadcast channel later in the season, but there won’t be to start. Instead, CBS Sports Network will air a whip-around show during the 3 p.m. kickoff slot on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when there are six games at the same time. The show starts at 2:30 p.m. and signs off at 5:15 p.m. It will be available live online through CBS All Access.
Games in the 12:55 p.m. slot will only be on CBS All Access for now.
CBS' strategy is different from Turner, which put one game on TBS and the rest on its subscription streaming service. It’s certainly a different strategy from previous broadcaster Fox, which put games on FS1, FS2, Fox Soccer Plus, and occasionally other cable channels too.
But it just might work, especially for fans who don’t have a strong affiliation to one team. The program will be hosted by Nico Cantor, who joins CBS from Univision. His many roles at Univision included hosting Champions League and Europa League whip-around shows, English-language play-by-play of the network’s MLS games, and a range of studio coverage.
For the Europa League, expect every game of the tournament except the final to be on CBS All Access. Those games are generally played on Thursdays, with kickoffs at 12:55 p.m. and 3 p.m.
CBS All Access’ coverage includes much more than just games. There will extensive studio programming too, with a vast array of hosts, analysts and reporters. On Champions League game days, for example, live studio coverage starts at 11 a.m. on game day and runs until 7 p.m., including the whip-around show. After that, there will be a highlights show available on demand.
In Spanish via Univision
Univision makes much more use of its TV channels. For the Champions League, there are generally two televised games in each time slot. One is on over-the-air channel UniMás and cable sports channel TUDN, and the other is on general-interest cable channel Galavisión. That’s four games in total on TV each day. For the Europa League, each of those channels has a game in each time slot, for a total of six on TV each day.
Since UniMás has the widest distribution, it generally has the most attractive games.
Univision’s broadcast team is led by the long-running team of Luis Omar Tapía and Diego Balado. You’ll also hear from veteran play-by-play voices Pablo Ramirez Gomez, Ramses Sandoval and Alejandro Berry, and analysts including Hristo Stoichkov, Jesús Bracamontes and Ivan Zamorano.
During the group stage, TV coverage on UniMás runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Champions League game days, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Europa League game days. There’s expanded coverage on TUDN since it’s a sports channel. Galavisión’s coverage is from noon to 5 p.m. for both competitions.
Every game of both competitions is available online through Univision’s sports website, TUDN.com, and its streaming apps. There’s also a whip-around show, Zona Fútbol, for both the Champions League and Europa League. The Europa League show is especially fun during the group stage, when there are 12 games in each time slot.
There are many ways to access Univision’s online streaming. If you have a pay-TV provider that has a carriage deal with the network, you can log into Univision’s website and apps and you’re set. Fubo.TV, a popular streaming service among soccer fans, has Univision’s TV channels and its supplementary streams — including Zona Fútbol — built into its platform.
If you don’t have a pay-TV subscription, Univision has its own subscription offering called Univision Now for $10.99 per month.
What days are the games?
Granting that the coronavirus pandemic could upend this at any time, the Champions League group stage dates are Oct. 20-21, Oct. 27-28, Nov. 3-4, Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2, and Dec. 8-9. The Europa League group stage dates are Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 5, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, and Dec. 10.
A record 10 U.S. national team-eligible players are on teams in the Champions League, and five are on teams in the Europa League. Those numbers don’t include Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who’s joining Red Bull Salzburg on January 1.
Aaronson will probably play in the Europa League this season, unless Salzburg is able to pull off an upset and advances out of the Champions League group stage. The top two teams in each group move on, and the third-place team goes to the Europa League.
Champions League: GKs Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen (Manchester City); Ds Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich); Ms Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund).
Europa League: D Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven), Erik Palmer-Brown; M Henry Wingo (Molde FK); F Tim Weah (Lille)
The best games
Home teams are listed first, as is European soccer tradition.
Oct. 20: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester United, Barcelona vs. Ferencváros
(Ferencváros was one of Europe’s dynasties in the 1960s, and hasn’t been in the European Cup since 1996.)
Oct. 21: Bayern Munich vs. Atlético Madrid, Ajax vs. Liverpool
Oct. 22: Celtic vs. AC Milan
Oct. 27: Olympique Marseille vs. Manchester City
Oct. 28: Manchester United vs. RB Leipzig, Juventus vs. Barcelona
(Juventus vs. Barcelona isn’t just Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi. It could also be Weston McKennie vs. Sergiño Dest if McKennie is clear of COVID-19 by then.)
Oct. 29: AEK Athens vs. Leicester City, Lille vs. Celtic, Real Sociedad vs. Napoli
Nov. 3: Atalanta vs. Liverpool, Real Madrid vs. Inter Milan
Nov. 4: RB Lepizig vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Nov. 5: AC Milan vs. Lille
Nov. 24: Rennes vs. Chelsea
Nov. 25: Inter Milan vs. Real Madrid
Nov. 26: Lille vs. AC Milan, Rangers vs. Benfica
Dec. 1: Atlético Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
Dec. 2: Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain, Ferencváros vs. Barcelona
Dec. 8: Barcelona vs. Juventus, RB Leipzig vs. Manchester United
Dec. 9: Ajax vs. Atalanta, Red Bull Salzburg vs. Atlético Madrid
Dec. 10: Dundalk vs. Arsenal, Celtic vs. Lille