Champions League 101


Austin Lentz, Contributor


The UEFA Champions League is the most decorated and celebrated club football trophy in the entire world. Founded in 1955 as the “European Champion Clubs’ Cup” and later renamed the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

It is composed of the top clubs in Europe with 31 different countries having been represented since its inception. The 32 team tournament begins with a group stage where each club that qualifies is randomly drawn into groups of four. Teams cannot begin the group stage with other clubs that are in the same league as their own, for example, Chelsea and Liverpool, both of which compete in the English Premier League, cannot start in the same group. This allows for better matchups towards the end of the tournament and the larger teams can make more money off of sponsorships and merchandise.

The teams in each group play 6 games both home and away against each club in their respective groups. The top two teams of the group stage round are then moved on, continuing the tournament. Another random draw takes place to see which teams are playing one another. The group winners host the second leg in the round of 16. The team that scores more goals over the two legs advances to the next round. This process is repeated throughout the tournament until there are only two teams standing. Similar to the Superbowl here in the states, the final is one game that is played at a neutral site, somewhere in Europe. The winners of the final are titled “Champions of Europe” and hold the title until next year’s Champions League final. 

The champions of Europe are normally the largest clubs in the world. Real Madrid of Spain and La Liga have won the Champions League a total of 13 times, the most in history. Ligue 1’s Inter Milan has won 7 times, the second-most ever. Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga has claimed the throne 6 times, the most of any club in Germany. England’s most frequent winner of the English Premier League is Liverpool with 6 Champions League titles. The most recent winner of the Champions League is Chelsea in 2021, who currently owns the title of “Champions of Europe.” 

The future of the Premier League and Champions League is posed to look completely different from the current times. Newcastle, who currently, at the time of this article being written, has 4 points on the season and is facing relegation from the Premier League. However,  Newcastle United has just recently been bought out by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which now makes them the richest team in the Premier League and one of the richest clubs in the world by more than 100 million euros. This could and will pose an incredible threat to the rather stagnant situation that sees the Champions League being won by the same handful of teams in recent years. I would not be surprised to see Newcastle challenging for the Premier League and making waves in the Champions League in the next 5-10 years.

This could and will pose an incredible threat to the rather stagnant situation that sees the Champions League being won by the same handful of teams in recent years

Currently, the favorites to win the Champions League are Paris Saint-Germain F.C. who recently acquired Lionel Messi on a free transfer from F.C. Barcelona, who could not continue to pay him the wages he demanded and rightfully deserved. Paris Saint-Germain is spearheaded by an attacking trio of Neymar Jr., Messi, and one of the best young footballers in the world Kylian Mbappé. The team has talent beyond any other squad, but the biggest question is if they will be able to put all the pieces together to claim their first Champions League title. Another strong favorite and contender is Manchester City, who suffered defeat last year in the finals to another English side, Chelsea. Pep Guardiola, the current manager of Manchester City has previously won two titles with FC Barcelona but is yet to do it with Manchester City. The talent and squad are there, but will Pep stop tinkering with the formula that makes them such a prolific side in the Premier League? 

The Champions League is currently in the group stage and is available to watch on CBS and their steaming app Paramount+.