UEFA Champions League competition

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How did the Champions League competition come about?

The UEFA Champions League is the most important European football tournament and is organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The tournament has been played under that name since 1992, but was previously known as the European Cup I (also called UEFA Cup for national champions). The UEFA represents the national football associations of Europe, organizes club competitions in Europe (such as the UEFA Champions League and Europa League) and manages the prize money, rules and media rights for these competitions. It is one of the six continental organizations of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Of all the continental organizations, UEFA is considered the richest and most influential. Due to the high salaries, almost all the top football players in the world play in European competitions, with rich football countries such as England, Italy and Spain being the most prominent. For example, 13 of the 32 national teams of the 2010 FIFA World Cup came from Europe.

European Cup I

The very first European Cup I took place in the 1955-1956 season. The first five finals were won by Real Madrid. The first edition played under the name of Champions League in 1993 was won by Olympique Marseille.

Olympique (de) Marseille

The championship is played between the teams that finish first in the national competitions, and not just between the national champions.

The best teams in this league

The record holder

The record holder for the number of Europe CUP I/Champion League victories is Real Madrid with 13 victories.

Real Madrid FC

The top five are completed with AC Milan (7), Bayern Munich and FC Liverpool (each 6) and FC Barcelona.

The best runner up

The best runner-up of all time is Juventus FC with 7 second places.


This makes the Italian club the most frustrated team in the Champions League. They remain a formidable opponent as well.

How is the competition currently organized?

Today, around 80 clubs from the national competitions of the 55 UEFA countries participate in the Champions League. The number of seats allocated to each country depends on the UEFA coefficient. This coefficient is based on recent performances in European competitions.

This varies from four places for the four best national competitions to one place for the least performing group.

The winners of the previous UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League are guaranteed to participate in the group stage of the next UEFA Champions League.

the preliminary round

Only four small clubs play against each other in the preliminary round. The two winners of the matches will compete in a final to determine who will advance to the first qualifying round. The two losing clubs move on to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

First Qualifying Round

In the first qualifying round there is room for 34 of the best teams from countries with a lower UEFA coefficient. The 16 winners of this round will advance to the second qualifying round. The losers can advance to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Second qualifying round

During the second qualifying round, new teams arrive: 20 national champions and 6 vice-champions. They play against each other in two separate heats: that of the champions and that of the non-champions. The winners move on to the third qualifying round, the losers to the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Third qualifying round

In the third qualifying round, new teams will be added, including a number of champions  (10) and runner-ups (6) from larger competitions.

Also in this round, both groups will face each other in a separate champion and non-champion series.

The losing champions move on to the play-off round of the Europa League, the losing non-champions to the group stage of the main draw of the Europa League.

play-off round

In the subsequent play-off round, there are two separate groups: the champions (8) and the non-champions (4).

The losers from both groups move on to the group stage of the main draw of the Europa League.

The group stage

For the group stage of the main tournament, 32 teams are divided into 8 groups with 4 clubs each.

Teams from the same country may not play in the same group.

Of those 32 teams, 26 are directly seeded and 6 are winners of the play-off round.

The knockout phase

Finally, there is the knock-out phase with the eighth finals, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final.

Bet on this European competition

General info

– All-time top scorer in the European Cup I/Champions League is Cristiano Ronaldo with 134 goals. The same Ronaldo also scored the most goals in a single Europa League season: 17 in total.

– The record for the highest number of games played in the European Cup I/Champions League ever with 177 is in the name of Iker Casillas (Real Madrid/FC Porto). He is closely followed by Cristiano Ronaldo.

– The Dutchman Roy Makaay scored the fastest goal ever in this competition in 2007. It took him barely 10.12 seconds.

-Based on two UEFA coefficients , UEFA ranks countries and clubs objectively by strength. The competition coefficient refers to the national competition. The position in the ranking determines how many clubs each country can send to the Champions League, the Europa League and the Conference League.

The five best countries

The top five in this ranking in 2020-2021 are Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France. The Netherlands and Belgium are respectively 8th and 9th.

– Based on the club coefficient, the clubs are ranked by strength. The five best in this standings in 2020-2021 are Bayern Munich, Barcelona, ​​Juventus, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The first Dutch club is Ajax in 19th place, the first Belgian team is Club Brugge in 43rd place.

– The European microstate of Liechtenstein cannot participate in the Europa League because it has no national competition. Liechtenstein has seven clubs, but they all play in the Swiss league.

– The Heysel drama of 1985 had major consequences for the English football league. Heavy riots broke out in the Brussels stadium where the final of the European Cup I of the 1984-1985 season was played between Liverpool and the Italian Juventus. British hooligans clashed with Juventus supporters. Many were injured and 39 were killed. It was subsequently decided to ban all clubs from the competition for five years from participating in European competition matches.


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