UEFA Champions League explained: how Europe’s best club competition works
Manchester city and Chelsea will meet in 2021 Champions League final on Saturday 29 May, closing Europe’s most prestigious club tournament and UEFA’s biggest revenue generator. The Champions League also attracts millions of fans from all over the world to see the best clubs from different national leagues compete against each other. This is how the Champions League works.
History of the Champions League
The competition has been around since 1955-56, when it was known as the European Cup. The first tournament had 16 participants and has grown to 32 teams over the years. The European Cup was a knockout competition until 1991. The format changed to a round of 16 qualifying phase followed by two group stages with the winners meeting for the final. In 1992-93, the competition became the Champions League.
Champions League qualification and format
Prior to the expansion of the Champions League, the competition took the league champion from each of the participating national leagues in Europe and the reigning Champions League winner. The tournament has expanded to 32 teams and UEFA has added various methods to qualify. The defending champion continues to qualify for the league the following season, regardless of his placement in the domestic league. This rule affected Tottenham in the 2012-13 season after Chelsea won the 2012 Champions League but finished sixth in the Premier League, two places outside the UEFA automatic qualifiers.
UEFA uses a coefficient to determine how many clubs in each league achieve an automatic qualification. These coefficients are based on the performance of clubs in UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions in previous seasons. While these coefficients may change, they rarely do due to the success of leagues with more entries. As it stands, UEFA’s top four associations get four automatic Champions League places. The associations ranked 5 and 6 obtain two automatic places and the champions of the league of associations 7 to 10 obtain an automatic place. This represents 24 of the 32 available locations. Other European teams can participate in a series of qualifying tournaments. From the 2014-15 season, the UEFA Europa League winner qualified for the Champions League the following season.
real Madrid and Barcelona have advanced to the Champions League group stage with 25 teams each, sharing the record for most appearances at a single club. FC Porto and Bayern Munich Then come with 24 appearances each.
Champions League winners
Real Madrid are kings of the Champions League, accumulating 13 titles in the history of the competition. AC Milan come second with seven titles, the last triumph in 2007. 2020 winners Bayern Munich and 2019 champions Liverpool each have six titles and Barcelona round out the top five with five trophies. Italian giants Juventus have the most finalists with seven.
Spanish clubs have the most combined titles with 18, followed by English clubs with 13 and Italian clubs with 12. German clubs have won eight titles while the Dutch Eredivisie have six Champions League crowns to their name, the flagship club Ajax with four wins.
Who is preferred to win in 2021?
Manchester City are the favorites over Chelsea, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Premier League champions are -210 in the final while Chelsea are +165.
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