What is UEFA Champions League?

Founded: 1955 (1992 in its current format)
Number of Teams: 77

Origin & History

UEFA official trophyFormerly known as the European Cup, the UEFA Champions League has become a premier soccer competition. It presents a platform for the elite clubs in the continent to outweigh their strong rivals. It has pushed teams to finish each domestic league season at a Champions League spot in order to participate in the prestigious competition.

Started back in 1955, the Champions League has surpassed many competitions to draw much acclaim and reputation. However, it faced challenges during its inception with the Great Britain declining to join the international club tournament.

Earlier on, countries held international club tournaments such as the Mitropa Cup. Mitropa Cup was first organized in 1927, featuring teams from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Teams from Italy, Switzerland and Romania joined the soccer competition with the English teams refusing to join the competition. The Mitropa Cup fell on the start of the World War II but resumed competitions in 1955. Though, it lost its splendor with the coming of the European Cup.

Generally, the Mitropa Cup and other such tournaments like the Latin Cup paved way for a more reputable continental club competition. Gabriel Hanot, a Frenchman, expressed the initial idea in 1934. It was only after the War that the idea drew more interest with the journalist pushing for support by publishing in L’Equipe.

The newly created UEFA was of a similar idea. The leading clubs were also interested in the proposal but there was no one to run the competition. In April 1955, the L’Equipe invited eighteen clubs to talk about the proposed competition. Plans were set to have the European Cup commence later in the year. This moved FIFA to call an Emergency Committee a month later to authorize the competition and have UEFA organize it, giving birth to the European Cup.

The Scope

UEFA 2013-2014 Champion Real Madrid is the team with most wins in UEFAThe number of teams that go into the Qualifying Rounds and directly to the Group Stage from each country are determined by a coefficient system. The system is determined by the performance of the team over a period of five years. The member associations secure positions as follows:

-Countries ranked 1-3 get four entries
-Countries ranked 4-6 get three entries
-Countries ranked 7-15 get two entries and
-Countries ranked 16 or lower get a single entry.

The current Champions League titleholders get to defend their title even without qualifying through their domestic league. Since the entries per nation are limited, certain procedures are observed to meet the requirement. For instance, if the holder comes from the top three ranked associations, the fourth placed team does not make it to the Champions League (it takes part in the Europa League).

Image on the right: UEFA Champions League 2013-2014 Champion Real Madrid from Spain is the club that has the most championship wins (10 trophies).

Teams Taking Part of UEFA Champions League

The top three teams in the national associations ranked 1-3 gain entry into the group stage. The highly ranked countries are England, Spain and Germany. Next, the top two teams in the members ranked 4-6(Italy, France and Russia) and Champions of countries ranked 7-12 by UEFA qualify directly to go to the group stage.

During draws for the group stage, round of 16 and quarter finals, clubs from the same domestic competition cannot be paired together. There are two-legged ties between teams in the competition except at the final. Matches can go to extra time or penalty shootouts to break ties.

(For example) 2013-2014 UEFA Champions League Group Stage

2013 - 2014 UEFA Champions League Group Stage

UEFA Champions League tournament schedule

Qualification Phase

Lionel Messi is the is currently the 3rd player with the most goals made, 4 goals behind the all time leader Raul.Other than the top teams making it directly to the group stages, the remaining teams have to go through qualification matches. There are three qualification rounds and a play-off round.

The first round kicks off with champions from the associations ranked 50-53 competing against each other and two winners proceed to the next round. In the second qualifying round, the two winners take on champions form 32 countries, ranked 17-49 to get 17 winners making it to the third round. These teams meet champions of the 14-16 ranked countries in the 3rd qualifying round and 10 teams proceed to the play-off phase. The winners of the following five ties get to the group stages.

On the other hand, the 3rd placed team from the 6th ranked national association and runners-up from the countries ranked 7-15 face off at the third qualifying round. Five winners emerge from the pairings and they take part in the play-offs together with fourth placed clubs from the countries ranked 1-3 and third-placed sides from fourth and fifth ranked members. Five more teams make it to the group stages.

Image on the right: Lionel Messi is considered as one of the best football players today, he is currently in the number one spot with the most goals made in UEFA Champions League with 74 total goals. (Check out the Official UEFA Statistics).

Final Stages

32 teams are drawn into groups of four. Each team plays six matches, home and away matches against the other opponents, and the winner gets three points, one point for each team after a draw and the loser gains no point. The top two teams make it to the round of 16 where another draw is made. The teams are paired and eight winning teams proceed to the quarter finals. The team with greater aggregate of goals makes it to the semi finals and the winners go to the final match.

Until 1967, the teams went to a replay if the goal difference was equal. But then a new rule was adopted where the team with more away goals’ would be considered the winner. If that was still the same, drawing of lots would then be conducted. After 1971, the penalty shootout was adopted.

UEFA Champions League Statistics

Top 10 Most Appearances in UEFA Champions League

Ryan Giggs Manchester United 151
Xavi Barcelona 147
Raúl Real Madrid, Schalke 04 144
Iker Casillas Real Madrid 142
Paolo Maldini Milan 141
Clarence Seedorf Ajax, Real Madrid, Internazionale, Milan 131
Paul Scholes Manchester United 130
Roberto Carlos Internazionale, Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe 128
Carles Puyol Barcelona 120
Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, Chelsea 116


Top 10 Goalscorers in UEFA Champions League

Raúl Real Madrid, Schalke 04 71
Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United, Real Madrid 68
Lionel Messi Barcelona 67
Ruud van Nistelrooy Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid 60
Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, Chelsea 59
Thierry Henry Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona 51
Filippo Inzaghi Juventus, Milan 50
Alfredo Di Stéfano Real Madrid 49
Eusébio Benfica 47
Alessandro Del Piero Juventus 43