UEFA Champions League History
The UEFA Champions League used to be called the European Cup until it was rebranded in 1992, and it was established in 1955. Two journalists, Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Ferran, first conceived the idea of the European Cup after having reported on the success of the South American Championship of Champions. The idea was to have a tournament set up for the best teams in Europe.
In the first edition of the European Cup, 16 clubs took part, and Real Madrid won the competition. The final was held in Paris between Madrid and Stade de Reims in front of an audience of over 38,000, and Madrid won 4-3. In the following year, the teams returned and this time the final was played in Madrid's stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid reached the finals again, played in front of a massive crowd of 124,000 and won again.
Madrid went on to win three more European Cups, dominating the competition throughout the 50s.
Each year, the final was brought to different stadiums in Europe to help elevate the popularity of the competition, and it was not long before other clubs from around Europe started winning the competition. In the 60s, Portuguese side Benfica won the competition twice, Italian Milanese teams AC Milan and Inter Milan also won the competition twice each, Scottish club Celtic won it, English club Manchester United won it, and Real Madrid won it again to take their tally to 6.
In the 70s, the competition was won in successive years by teams from the Netherlands, Germany and England. Feyenoord won the competition in 1970, and they were followed by fellow Dutch team Ajax Amsterdam, who won the competition three times in a row from 1971-1973. German team Bayern Munich then won the competition three times in a row, from 1974-1976. English teams Liverpool and Nottingham Forest won the competition twice in a row each, with Liverpool winning it in 1977 and 1978, and Forest winning it in 1979 and 1980. Liverpool claimed European glory once more in 1981, and in the following year, Aston Villa won the tournament.
The 80s saw 8 different teams winning the competition, the most in a single decade up to that point. Liverpool won the competition twice, Aston Villa won it once, and so did Germany's Hamburger SV, Italy's Juventus and AC Milan, Romania's Steaua București, Portugal's Porto FC, and the Netherlands’ PSV Eindhoven.
Yugoslavian club Red Star Belgrade won the competition in 1991, and in the following year Spanish club Barcelona won the competition. In 1992, the European Cup underwent many sponsor changes and received new marketing and TV rights, and the tournament was rebranded the UEFA Champions League.
In the first year of the relaunch, Marseille won the competition and became the first French team to do so. Marseille beat Milan in the finals, but the Italian team returned the following year to win the competition once more. The 90s saw some major trophy droughts broken by some teams that had found their way again. Ajax was the first to do so, winning the competition in 1995, breaking a 22-year drought. Real Madrid were the next, winning the famed European tournament in 1998, breaking a 32-year drought. Manchester United won the competition in 1999, some 31 years after they won their first and only trophy up to that date. Borussia Dortmund won their first title in the 90s, and Juventus added to their trophy tally as well.
Bayern Munich won the Champions League in 2001, breaking their trophy drought of 25 years. In the meantime, Real Madrid won the competition in 2000 and 2002, taking their number of European trophies up to 9. AC Milan won the competition two times in the 2000s, with the last win coming in 2007 and taking their tally up to 7. Porto won the competition in 2004, winning their second ever European trophy. Liverpool won in 2005, for the first time in 21 years, Manchester United added another trophy in their cabinet, and Barcelona added two more.
In the 2010s, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Chelsea won the competition, before Real Madrid won it 4 times in 5 years. In 2014, Real Madrid won the competition, beating their local rivals Atletico Madrid in the finals. The following year, their main Spanish rivals Barcelona won the competition, but between 2016 and 2018, Real Madrid won the competition 3 times. In 2019, Liverpool won the competition, and the following year Bayern Munich won it, both times the teams beat teams who had reached the finals for the first time in their history: Tottenham Hotspur and PSG.
Chelsea won their second Champions League in 2021, beating Manchester City in an all-English final. In 2022, Real Madrid beat Liverpool, winning their 14th Champions League trophy.
The Champions League is held simultaneously with the European domestic league season. The games are usually held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, to avoid clashing with the weekend league football fixtures, and the competition is held in two phases.
The first phase is the group stage, where the 32 teams in the competition are drawn into 8 groups. The teams will then play in a double robin round against the three other teams in their group, playing home and away legs. Once all the group stage matches have been played, the two teams at the top of each group will qualify for the knockout stage, the team placed in third will head to the Europa League knockout stage playoff matches, and the team placed in fourth is knocked out.
The group stage rounds are played every two weeks from September through to December. In February, the knockout stage commences, which lasts through to June.
The knockout stage starts from the round of the last 16 and goes all the way to the finals, with every round played in two legs except the final, which is one game.
Only five clubs have kept the real European trophy, the rules stating that clubs are allowed to keep the trophy if they have won the competition 6 times or won the competition three times in a row. Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, and Liverpool are the only clubs with authentic Champions League trophies in their silverware cabinets.
Currently, 118 clubs from 31 countries in Europe have played in the competition. There have been teams from Malta, Albania, Georgia, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, and many more.
Juventus holds the record for the most runners up places, out of a total 9 Champions League finals, they have lost 7 times. Benfica have a similar tally, having only won the competition twice and lost 5 finals.
These are three way bets where punters can place their money on either team A to win, team B to win, or for the match to end in a draw.
With handicaps, punters can add goals or subtract goals from a team’s score to change the odds on them winning a match. If negative handicaps are applied, a team’s odds will lengthen but they will have to win by a margin larger than the handicap. If positive handicaps are applied, the team’s odds will shorten, but the bet will only require the team not to lose by more than the given handicap.
Punters can bet on how many goals will be scored by both teams combined with total goals. There are numerous betting lines, and for each there will be a bet on whether the game will end with over or under that number of goals.
There are many more bets that can be found that either pick out finer aspects of a game, such as which team will score first, first half result, correct score, and those that relate to player performances such as will a certain player score, will a player score the opening goal, will the player score two goals, and so on.
The bets listed above will also be available during a game, with live odds. There may be more bets that relate to events in the immediate future such as which team will score next, will a team score twice in the ongoing half, and more.