The UEFA Champions League is a football competition that is held annually and involves the top football clubs in Europe. It is organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is considered the most prestigious football tournament in Europe. A total of about 700 football clubs from various leagues across Europe participate in the competition. About 80 of them qualify to compete in the actual tournament. The goal of the tournament is for the participating clubs to showcase their skills and try to be crowned the best football club in Europe.
The winner of the tournament is considered the best football club in Europe. Likewise, it is often considered to be the best club team in the world. Real Madrid is one of the most successful clubs in the history of the Champions League. They have won the tournament a record 14 times and appeared in the final a record 17 times. Winning the Champions League not only grants bragging rights over local rivals and other clubs within the same country but also establishes the winning team as the top club in the entire UEFA system.
History of the UEFA Champions League
“The Champions League began as the ‘European Cup’ during the 1955-56 season, featuring 16 clubs, each from a different country. Over the next few seasons, the European Cup expanded, bringing in more teams from more nations, until it reached 32 clubs by the 1960 campaign.”
“The competition known as the European Cup was renamed the Champions League for the 1992-93 season. At that time, 32 clubs were divided into eight groups of four, and the top teams advanced to another group stage with 16 clubs in four groups of four.”
“In the 2003-04 season, a new format for the Champions League was introduced and is still used today. We will now explain the current format of the competition.”
How the Champions League Works Today
In the Champions League, 32 teams compete against each other. 26 of these teams automatically qualify for the Champions League based on their performance in the previous season. The other 52 teams have to play in a qualifiers tournament during the summer to try to earn the remaining 6 spots in the group stage.
After the 32 teams are determined, they are divided into four pots of eight teams. The first pot includes the previous Champions League winners. Similarly, the Europa League winners, and the winners of the top seven leagues.
The second, third, and fourth pots are arranged based on the UEFA club coefficient of each team. The UEFA coefficient is a system used to measure the performance of European clubs in UEFA tournaments. The teams with the highest coefficients go into Pot 2, the next highest into Pot 3, and the lowest into Pot 4. During the group stage draw, one team from each pot is placed into a group.
During the group stage, each team plays six matches. One home game and one away game against the other three teams in their group. The point system is as follows: a team earns three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round of the competition or knock-out stage, while the third-place team is moved to the Europa League. The fourth-place team is no longer able to participate in European competitions.
Knockout Rounds of UEFA Champions League
Round of 16
In the knockout rounds of the Champions League, the top two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16. During this round, the group winners are drawn against the group runners-up from different groups and countries. The teams that win their Round of 16 matches move on to the quarterfinals.
In the Champions League knockout rounds, the two teams play two matches against each other, one at each team’s home field. The team that wins or has more points and scores the most goals across the two matches is the winner. If the two teams are tied on aggregate at the end of the second match, the game goes into extra time. If the score is still tied after extra time, the game is decided by a penalty shootout. This process is used in the Round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals.
The eight teams that win their Round of 16 matches move on to the quarterfinals. After that, they are drawn against each other in a new pool. From this point on, teams from the same group and country can be drawn to play against each other in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The four teams that win their quarterfinal matches advance to the semifinals.
Note: If two clubs from the same city are in the quarterfinals or semifinals and have different opponents, they cannot play their home games on consecutive days. For instance, if Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are both in the quarterfinals or semifinals, and one is playing at home while the other is playing away, they cannot play on back-to-back days.
Like in previous rounds, the teams play one home game and one away game against each other. The team with the best aggregate score over the two matches advances to the Champions League Final. The two teams that win their semifinal matches move on to compete in the final.
Final of UEFA Champions League
The location and stadium for the final match are usually chosen three to four years in advance. In some cases, the final has been held at one of the participating team’s home stadiums. The last time this happened was in 2012 when Bayern Munich played against Chelsea at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
Unlike the previous three knockout rounds, the Champions League Final is a single-elimination match.
If the score is tied at the end of regulation time in the Champions League Final, the match will proceed to a 30-minute extra time period. If the score remains tied after extra time, the outcome of the match will be determined by a penalty shootout.