UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is an annual competition contested by the top division European club champions (for some nations, one or more runners-up).
It is the most prestigious club competition in the world, with the Champions League Final among the most watched sporting spectacles in the world.
The Champions League begins in July of each year with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round.
Coming out of these qualifying rounds are 10 teams, who join the 22 teams who qualified in advance of the tournament. The 32 teams are drawn into 8 groups of 4 teams, with teams playing each other in a double round-robin format. The 8 group winners and 8 runners-up proceed to the Champions League knockout phase, which culminates with the Champions League final in May.
Champions League History
The UEFA Champions League was known in it’s first format as the ‘European Cup’ in 1955-56, with Real Madrid winning the final 4-3 against Stade de Reims. In 1992-93 the Champions League was born, with Marseille winning the first ever final against Milan. Marseille won the European Cup/ Champions League double, being the first and only French club to do so.
22 clubs have won the UEFA Champions League title, with another 17 teams making the final but failing to take home the silverware.
10 Fast Champions League Facts
- Real Madrid won the first 5 European Cup titles from 1955-55 to 1959-60.
- The attendance record for a European Cup game is 127,621, when Real Madrid defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in 1960.
- The attendance record for a modern Champions League game is 90,265 when Manchester United defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Barcelona in the 1998-99 Champions League Final. One of the great comeback wins in sporting history (watch the video below!)
- Ajax won 3 straight titles from 1970-71 to 1972-73, without conceding a goal in any of their 3 final’s wins.
- English sides won 6 straight Champions League titles from 1976-77 to 1981-82.
- Spanish team have won the last 4 Champions League titles, with Real Madrid taking the trophy home on 3 occasions.
- Two players have scored 5 goals in a Champions League match – Lionel Messi for Barcelona against Bayern Leverkusen in a 7-1 rout in 2012, and Luiz Adriano in a 7-0 whitewash for Shakhtar Donetsk against BATE Borisov in 2014.
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have each scored 7 hat-tricks in the Champions League.
- Juventus have appeared in 9 finals, the 4th most of any club in the competition’s history, however have won only 2 titles, ranking them 8th on the list of most title wins.
- English side Nottingham Forest have made Champions League Final on just two occasions, winning the title on both visits in back to back appearances in 1979 and 1980.
Man United break Bayern Munich’s hearts in 1999
Champions League Betting Types
There are several betting options available for Champions League punters.
The most popular is the Outright Winner, with odds available for all qualified clubs months prior to the start of the tournament.
Punters can also bet on all qualification matches, with exotic bets that include picking the exact score, game result and number of goals scored as well as whether certain players will score a goal. For Champions League knockout games, there is the ability to bet on whether games will go to extra-time or a penalty shootout.
The Past 5 Champions League Winners
2016/17 – At Millennium Stadium in Wales, Real Madrid defeated Juventus 4-1 to win their third title in four years.
Real Madrid became the first club to defend a Champions League title, and the first side to defend the title since Milan in 1990 in the then European Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo starred in the Final, winning the player of the match award, scoring two goals.
2015/16 – Real Madrid won a classic against Atletico Madrid at San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy.
Scores were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time, with Real Madrid winning 5-3 in a penalty shootout, in what was a a replay of the 2014 Champions League Final.
Real Madrid conceded goals in just two of their nine knockout games leading into the Finals, and were deserved winners of the trophy.
2014/15 –Juventus and Barcelona entered the Final having both won their National Cup and National League titles earlier in the season.
Barcelona took out the final 3-1 in Berlin, with man of the match Andreas Iniesta putting on a dominant display in the left-midfield.
Barcelona scored in the 4th minute and while Juventus managed to equalise, the Spanish powerhouse took back the lead midway through the 2nd half, adding the sealer in stoppage time to make it 3-1.
2013/14 – Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 4-1 in Lisbon, coming from behind to score 3 goals in extra time after the sides were locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes.
Atletico scored first through Diego Godin in the 36th minute, with Real Madrid drawing level in stoppage time when Sergio Ramos found the back of the net. Real then added 3 goals in the 2nd half of extra time, digging the knife further into their local rivals with each late goal.
Angel Di Maria won the player of the match award.
2012/13 – Wembley Stadium in London hosted the Champions League Final, with Bayern Munich defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the first ever all-German final.
Each club had a unique road to the final. Bayern won their quarter-finals and semi-finals by a goal aggregate of 11-0, while Dortmund won each tie by a single goal.
Then player of the Final was Arjen Robben, scoring the winning goal in the 89th minute and dominating the game from the right-wing.
The Past 5 Champions League Top Scorers
2016/17 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 12 goals.
2015/16 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 16 goals.
2014/15 – Neymar (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona) each with 10 goals.
2013/14 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 17 goals.
2012/13 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 12 goals.
View all Champions League Top Scorers by year
Who has won the most Champions League Titles?
- Real Madrid have won 12 titles from 15 finals appearances, followed by Milan who won the trophy on 7 ocassions and finished runner-up on 4 occasions.
- Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Liverpool have each won 5 times.
- Spanish clubs have been the most successful Champions League qualifiers, with clubs winning 17 titles, ahead of Italy and England who have both had 12 winning clubs.
- Atletico Madrid have made the finals on 3 occasions, losing on each occasion.