Just in the way that some people think of certain nights as ‘pizza night’ or ‘date night’, there are plenty of people out there who consider Champions League fixtures to be a night as well and have ‘Champions League night’. To say the tournament is immensely popular is quite the understatement. Around 380 million to 400 million tune in to watch Europe’s soccer titans do battle in the Champions League final. It’s gripping, and lots of people up the excitement even more for themselves by participating in Champions League betting. This year, Manchester City and Liverpool F.C were swapping positions as the favorites to win, however it turned out better for Liverpool. The final will be between Real Madrid and Liverpool on the 28th May.
Anyway, below is a look at how the Champions League has evolved since its earlier days as the European Cup Winners Cup.
The pre-Champions League days of the tournament The Champions League started life as the European Cup in 1955/56. This isn’t to be confused with the other pan-European competition, the European Cup Winners Cup, which launched during the 1960/61 season and ran for nearly 40 years during the 20th century. The competition as we know it today is UEFA’s elite tournament and entrants battle to become European champions and enjoy the glory that comes along with it. In the days of the European Cup, 16 clubs would compete for this right. It was a straight knockout tournament between domestic league winners.
The first team to win the European Cup were Real Madrid in 1956. Under the old competition rules, they got to keep the original cup when they won it for a sixth time in 1966. Other clubs who have been permanently awarded the trophy include Ajax and Bayern Munich, after winning their third consecutive titles in 1973 and 1976. Liverpool would later go on to be permanently awarded a trophy in 2005.
Transformation into the Champions League The competition has changed a lot since those early days and when it transformed into the Champions League in 1992/93.
The competition is no longer open only to domestic champions, but also to runners-up in domestic leagues. The competition opened up to them from the 1997/98 season. In 2019/20, seventy-nine clubs entered.
Now, qualifying for the Champions League begins in summer with three rounds followed by a place. Then 32 teams begin the group stage of the tournament in September, with each group consisting of four teams.
The multiple winners badge A team may experience the glory of winning the Champions League trophy more than once, but unfortunately, they can’t keep the trophy anymore. The fact UEFA doesn’t currently own the trophy means this is no longer allowed. Liverpool was the last team to be able to keep the trophy in 2005. That’s not to say such successful teams in the Champions League receive no recognition of their achievement, however. UEFA introduced this in the 2000/01 season.
At the beginning of the 2012/13 season, UEFA changed the badge from blue to grey and also altered the design. At the start of the 2020/21 season, the association also stopped players from wearing the badge on the left sleeve, which created space for sponsors. Teams who wore the multiple winners’ badge then saw the badge incorporated into the regular ‘starball’ badge. Now soccer fans have even more opportunities to see their favorite team earn some silverware.