UEFA Champions League is the most popular and prestigious club tournament in Europe. No wonder approximately 200 million football fans across the world watch the Champions League final.
Thus, every team and player in Europe strive hard to lift the champions league trophy. Then, how well do you know the Champions League structure and statistics since inception?
Don’t worry! because this is the best summary of The UEFA Champions League tournament (1956 – Present).
- 1 Brief UEFA Champions League History
- 2 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FORMAT
- 3 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE KNOCK-OUT STAGE
- 4 UEFA Champions League Finals
- 5 List of UEFA Champions League Winners by Clubs (1956 – Now)
- 7 EUROPEAN COMPETITION
Brief UEFA Champions League History
Founded: Champions League was founded in 1956.
Initial name: The tournament was initially referred to as The European Cup.
First Season: The first European Cup tournament was played in the 1955/1956 season.
Participants: Initially, only domestic league winners and a few runners-up of the most competitive leagues participate in the European Cup. Notably, only 16 teams participated in the first season.
Mode of play: From onset to finals, The European Cup was a knock-out tournament.
First Final: The first Champions League final was between Real Madrid versus Reims at Parc des Princes stadium in France.
First Winner: Real Madrid beat Reims 4 goals to 3 to narrowly win the first European Cup.
Real would also win the next three finals to become the first and only team to win the competition 4 times consecutively.
Governing Body: Union of European Association (UEFA) has managed the tournament from 1956 to present. In addition, UEFA also manages the Europa League.
Re-branding: The UEFA renamed the competition from The European Cup to The UEFA Champion League in 1992. Since then, the tournament is commonly abbreviated as UCL.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FORMAT
UEFA Champions League is played in four phases that include Qualifying Rounds, Playoff Rounds, Group Stages, and Knock Out Phases.
UEFA Champions League Qualifying Rounds
There are 4 rounds in the qualifying rounds that include preliminary round, first qualifying round, second qualifying round, and third qualifying round. Below are details.
Preliminary Round (4 teams)
The 4 teams are the winners of rank 51 – 55 association as per UEFA coefficients. The winner proceeds to the qualifying stage.
First Qualifying Round (34 teams)
Composed of two sets of teams. First, the winner of the preliminary round. The second set is composed of 33 league winners of association rank 18 – 51.
The teams are grouped into 17 pairs. Each pair play a round-robin format. 17 Winners proceeds.
Second Qualifying Round (26 teams)
Champions Route (20 teams): The 20 teams include 17 winners from the first qualifying round and 3 teams are league winners of the association rank 15-17. Teams are paired to play home and away to produce 10 winners.
League Route ( 6 teams): The six teams are drawn from runners-up of ranks association 10-15.
Third Qualifying Round (20 teams)
Champions Route (12 teams): The 12 teams include 10 winners from the 2nd qualifying round. The other 2 teams are the rank 13-14 association league winners. 6 pairs play home and a way to produce 6 winners.
League Route (8 teams): The 8 teams are drawn from 3 sets. They include 3 winners of the second qualifying round (league route). 3 teams are 2nd-placed teams in the league table of associations ranks 7-9. Finally, 2 teams are the 3rd placed teams in the association 5 and 6 league tables. Home and away matches of 4 pairs produce 4 winners who proceed.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAY-OFF ROUND (12 teams)
Champions route (8 teams): The 8 teams are drawn from 2 sets. The 6 teams that proceeded from 3rd qualifying round champion path. Then 2 winners of associations 11 and 12 domestic leagues. The 4 pairs produce 4 winners who proceed to group stages.
League route (4 teams): No new teams joining outside the tournament. Therefore, the 4 teams are those that proceeded from the third qualifying round (league route). Then, the 4 teams are paired into 2 pairs. The pairs then play home and away matches to produce 2 winners.
Both routes produce 6 teams to group stages.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGES (32 teams)
Many football fans are familiar with most fans. Why so? teams from popular leagues in Europe like Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie join at this stage.
Teams: 32 teams that play the Champions League Group Stages. The teams are composed of the following:
- 6 teams join from Champions League Play-off round
- Champion League winner in the previous season
- Europa League winner in the previous season
- 10 teams that are domestic league winners of association rank 1 -10
- 6 teams that are runners-up of domestic league associations rank 1 – 6
- 4 teams that are in position 3 in leagues of associations rank 1 – 4
Groups: The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups each group comprising 4 teams.
Mode of Play: Each group plays a round-robin tournament format. This means each team plays the other three teams both at home and away. Therefore, each team plays 6 matches at this stage. As a result, a total of 24 matches are played by each group.
The best 2 teams in each group proceed to the round of 16. On the other hand, the third team drops to the Europa League group stages. The 4th team drops out the competition perhaps back to the local league.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE KNOCK-OUT STAGE
No new teams join from the competitions from this stage onwards. Knock out stage, as the name suggests, teams either proceeds or they are knocked out of the competition.
Therefore, teams are very enthusiastic about winning every game from this stage onwards. Sometimes, to the extent of not playing their key players during domestic leagues in preparation for the knock-out.
There are four rounds in this stage namely round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and then the finals. Let’s get all the details as follows:
Champions League Round of 16 (16 teams)
UCL round of 16 marks the beginning of the knockout stage. The 16 winners of the group stage proceed to the round of 16.
Teams play home and away return match format to determine the winner. The winner proceeds to the quarter-finals.
Champions League Quarter-Finals (8 teams)
The 8 winners of the round of 16 proceeds to the Champions League quarter-finals. The teams are grouped into four pairs. Then, the teams in a pair play home and away matches against one another. As a result, 4 teams proceed to the semis.
Champions League Semi-Finals (4 teams)
Two winners of the quarter-finals are ready for semi-finals. A draw pairs the teams into two pairs. Just like in quarter-finals, the teams play home and away matches to determine the finalist.
UEFA Champions League Finals
Champions League final is the most popular club competition in the world. Finally, the best two teams in Europe are playing against each other.
Both teams need to prepare adequately for the big day as compared to the finals of the domestic cups.
Thus, UEFA schedules the Champions League final several weeks after domestic leagues and domestic cups conclude.
For instance, in 2019 finals, Liverpool and Tottenham rested for 20 days since the last Premier League game on 12/05/2019.
The Venue: The ground hosting the final is predetermined by UEFA two seasons in advance.
For example, The 2019 champions league final will be Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid, Spain.
By the way, the 2020 finals will be held at Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey.
List of UEFA Champions League Winners by Clubs (1956 – Now)
Below are the UCL winners, scores and runners up.
|59||2014||Real Madrid||4 -1||Atlético Madrid|
|58||2013||Bayern Munich||2 -1||Borussia Dortmund|
|56||2011||Barcelona||3 -1||Manchester United|
|55||2010||Internazionale||2 – 0||Bayern Munich|
|54||2009||Barcelona||2 – 0||Manchester United|
|47||2002||Real Madrid||2 -1||Bayer Leverkusen|
|45||2000||Real Madrid||3 – 0||Valencia|
|44||1999||Manchester United||2 -1||Bayern Munich|
|43||1998||Real Madrid||1 – 0||Juventus|
|42||1997||Borussia Dortmund||3 -1||Juventus|
|40||1995||Ajax||1 – 0||Milan|
|39||1994||Milan||4 – 0||Barcelona|
|38||1993||Marseille||1 – 0||Milan|
|37||1992||Barcelona||1 – 0||Sampdoria|
|36||1991||Red Star Belgrade||(0-0)ft
|35||1990||Milan||1 – 0||Benfica|
|34||1989||Milan||4 – 0||Steaua Bucureşti|
|32||1987||Porto||2 – 1||Bayern Munich|
|30||1985||Juventus||1 – 0||Liverpool|
|29||1984||Liverpool||1 – 0||Roma|
|28||1983||Hamburg||1 – 0||Juventus|
|27||1982||Aston Villa||1 – 0||Bayern Munich|
|26||1981||Liverpool||1 – 0||Real Madrid|
|25||1980||Nottingham Forest||1 – 0||Hamburg|
|24||1979||Nottingham Forest||1 – 0||Malmö FF|
|23||1978||Liverpool||1 – 0||Club Brugge|
|22||1976-77||Liverpool||3 – 1||Borussia Mönchengladbach|
|21||1976||Bayern Munich||1 – 0||Saint-Etienne|
|20||1975||Bayern Munich||2 – 0||Leeds United|
|19||1974||Bayern Munich||(1-1)extra time
(4 – 0) Repeat 2 days later
|18||1973||Ajax||1 – 0||Juventus|
|17||1972||Ajax||2 – 1||Internazionale|
|16||1971||Ajax||2 – 0||Panathinaikos|
|13||1968||Manchester United||4 -1||Benfica|
|11||1966||Real Madrid||2 -1||Partizan|
|10||1965||Internazionale||1 – 0||Benfica|
|9||1964||Internazionale||3 -1||Real Madrid|
|7||1962||Benfica||5 – 3||Real Madrid|
|6||1961||Benfica||3 – 2||Barcelona|
|5||1960||Real Madrid||7 – 3||Eintracht Frankfurt|
|4||1959||Real Madrid||2 -0||Stade de Reims|
|3||1958||Real Madrid||3 -2||Milan|
|2||1957||Real Madrid||2 -0||Fiorentina|
|1||1956||Real Madrid||4 -3||Reims|