All You Need to Know About the UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious international European soccer tournament. It’s been around for decades. In this article, we’ll share all you need to know about the competition.
Brief history of the UEFA Champions League
The competition was created after the initiative of the famous French newspaper L’equipe – the same newspaper that gave life to the Tour de France in 1955. When the competition started it was known as the European Champions Club Cup and its objective was nothing more and nothing less than defining the best team of the continent.
According to the draft of the first regulation, the UEFA Champions League would be made up of the main European associations and the best teams in each country.
The tournament was inspired by the South American Champions Championships and it was supported by Santiago Bernabeu, the president of Real Madrid. There were originally 18 teams that accepted the initiative and later FIFA was able to validate the title.
The first tournament was won by Real Madrid after defeating Stade de Remis (a french team) four to three. The next four tournaments were also won by Real Madrid.
In the 1960s the main winner of the UEFA Champions League was Benfica a Portuguese team. They won as many titles as favorites Real Madrid and A.C Milan. By the end of the 1960s northern European teams started to become more noticeable in the tournament. Teams such as Manchester United, Ajax and Dynamo made history by defeating the competition’s favorites.
The 1980s was championed by lesser-known teams such as Porto’s soccer club, PSV from the Netherlands and A.C Milan.
Modern UEFA history
As of 1992 the structure and name of the tournament were changed to what we know today. Secondly, more teams were accepted in the tournament and the game system was modified.
Subsequently, during the 1996-97 season, the controversial Bosman ruling came into effect. This meant that local players could play in foreign teams without occupying a foreign position. As a result, bigger teams were able to make million-dollar purchases which undoubtedly changed the level of play.
Since 2009 the Champions League has been going through what’s known as “the influence of the four major leagues”. This includes teams from Spain, Italy, England and Germany that take the stage during every tournament.
UEFA Champions League competition system
When it first started, the UEFA Champions League was made up of 16 teams, the following year, 22 teams competed and during the third year, 85 teams competed. However, only 32 made it to the final stages.
From 1999-2000, 32 teams participate in each competition with a first-round in the form of eight groups with four teams each. There can’t be two teams from the same country in one group. Home and away games are played and only the top two ranking teams are allowed to go on the next stage. The third in each group go on to the 16th final of the UEFA Europa League.
In the next phases, direct elimination occurs, home and away games are also played during these phases. The final match is played on a neutral field chosen by UEFA prior to the start of the competition.
UEFA Champions League Records
Did you know that Real Madrid is the team with the most (13) Champion league titles? It’s also the team that’s played in the most competitions (49). And it’s the team that’s reached the most (19) finals. Real Madrid also holds the record for the most goals scored in a Champions League final when they defeated Frankfurt seven to three.
F.C Internazionale (Inter Milan) had an exciting start, the first time the team played in the Champions League it emerged victorious and undefeated. In the finals, it defeated Real Madrid three to one.
The only final that was decided in a playoff game was between F.C Bayern Munich (Germany) and Atletico de Madrid in 1973. Liverpool was the first team to win the championship with a penalty shootout.
Finally, when it comes to top scores, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo leads the group with 125 goals in the championship. He’s followed by the Argentinian, Lionel Messi who has 112 goals and Spaniard Raul Gonzalez who scored 71 goals in the UEFA Champions League.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Waldén, M., Hägglund, M., & Ekstrand, J. (2005). UEFA Champions League study: A prospective study of injuries in professional football during the 2001-2002 season. British Journal of Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2004.014571
- All-Time Records 1955-2019. UEFA Champions League. https://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/EuroExperience/competitions/Publications/02/28/56/90/2285690_DOWNLOAD.pdf
- UEFA Champions League Statistics Handbook 2018-2019. UEFA. https://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/EuroExperience/competitions/Publications/02/28/56/89/2285689_DOWNLOAD.pdf