The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious club trophy in the whole of Europe and maybe even the world. 32 top clubs from countries all around Europe take part in this competition to be crowned the champions of Europe. 4 top clubs each from Europe’s top 5 leagues are automatically entered in the group stages whereas clubs from other leagues have other criteria. Some clubs even have to play the qualification round. It is the most fierce and intense competition in all of club football. Each teams wants to win the biggest trophy as it creates a big image of the club in world football as serious contenders.
UEFA Champions League Format
The 32 teams which take part in the champions league are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams. Each team has to play the other 3 teams in their group twice. After all the teams are done with their group stage matches, the top two teams from each group qualify for the Round of 16. UEFA conducts draws for the round of 16 in such a way that no 2 teams from the same group have to face each other in the round of 16. Each round of 16 tie is played over two legs, a home leg and an away leg. The away goals rule also help teams qualify more often than not. The away goal rule means that in case of a draw on aggregate after two legs, the team with more goals in their away leg wins the match.
After this, the Quarterfinals and the Semifinals take place. Both these rounds also have 2 legs and have the same rules as the round of 16. After 30 of the 32 teams have exited, only 2 teams remain which play out the most anticipated final of club football. The UEFA Champions League Final. The final of The Champions League is played at a neutral venue for both teams which is decided at the start of the campaign. The team which wins the final wins the right to be called the champions of Europe.
Since it is the biggest club competition, the money involved in the champions league is also huge. All 32 teams make a lot of money to begin with but as you progress farther and farther, you get more money. Each group stage team gets up to 15 million Euros before the first match is even played. That’s sum is just for participating. A group stage victory gets your club 2.7 million Euros whereas a draw only gets you 900,000.
After this, the knockout rounds begin and that is where the real money starts coming in. The bigger the stage, the bigger the sum of money teams can get. Just participating in the round of 16 can get the club 9.5 million Euros. The sum for participating in the Quarterfinals is 10.5 million and for the Semi-finalists, teams get 12 million Euros. The winning team of the champions league takes home a whopping amount of 19 million Euros while the runners up get 15 million Euros.
This is just the amount that UEFA gives to the clubs just for participating. Other than this, the clubs also get more money through broadcasting rights and other factors involved. Money also comes from all the fans buying tickets for their matches and also through the clubs merch. The winner of the Champions League also wins a spot in the next year’s competition.
History of UEFA Champions League of Football
The Champions league started out in 1955 as the European Cup. It did not have group stages in the beginning but went straight to the knockout stages. Only 1 team from each league was allowed at the start, the champion of that league. The whole competition rebranded itself in 1992 and the group stages were introduced in 1991. More than one team from a single league was allowed to enter after 1997. A total of 22 different clubs have won the Champions League out of which 12 have won it on more than one occasion. Real Madrid have been the most successful club in Champions League history having won it a staggering 13 times. Spanish clubs have the highest number of champions league having won a combined total of 18 titles.
Some Individual Records
Often termed as Mr. Champions League, the top scorer is no surprise. Cristiano Ronaldo leads the all time scoring charts having scored 134 goals in 176 appearances and Lionel Messi being a close second with 120 goals in 149 appearances. Both these players are still going and are far away from scoring their last goal. The leading appearances chart is topped by Iker Casillas with 177 appearances but this record won’t last long as Cristiano Ronaldo is a close 2nd with 176 appearances.
The top assist provider is again none other than Cristiano Ronaldo with 37 assists while Lionel Messi is on 2nd place with 34 assists. Paco Gento holds the record for the most European cup wins in history as a player. He won the cup a staggering 6 times with Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo also holds the record for most goals scored in a single champions league season. He scored 17 goals in the 2013-14 season in which Real Madrid were crowned as champions.
The UEFA Champions League is a competition that every club in Europe wants to win. It is the single biggest trophy in club football at the moment and it always has been. It always remains the 1st priority of every club that is participating in it. And every club that isn’t participating, hopes to qualify for it. It is the main aim for every top club as it brings with it, its bragging rights . One thing is for sure, when the champions league anthem comes on, football fans all around the world stop doing whatever it is they were doing ad get glued to the TV because everyone knows that any match in the champions league will be epic and worth watching.