Champions League Overview
The Champions League is the ultimate soccer competition. Orchestrated by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League pits the champions of domestic leagues and other qualifiers against one another in a grand annual tournament. Some of the most popular teams from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 compete for eternal glory on the biggest stage.
Here’s all you need to know to be the most well-versed “football” hipster now that the European version is the only kind available until August.
They Like to Score
No team has scored more goals in the history of the Champions League – rebranded as such from the European Cup in 1992 – than Real Madrid. The team has scored close to 900 goals in pursuit of European and Champions League honors. In their current campaign, the Madridistas count on the scoring power of Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Welsh forward Gareth Bale.
German side Bayern Munich and Spanish side FC Barcelona both trail significantly behind the Galácticos of Real Madrid. They’ve each scored around 300 fewer goals in total, even equipped with strong players in their attacking roles. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller help lead the line for the German giants, while MSN – Messi, Suárez, and Neymar – drive defenders crazy for Barça’s benefit.
In fourth place, with close to 500 goals, is Manchester United, the highest-scoring English side and the only one in the top five spots. The team will have to wait another year for their chance to add to this tally, though, as the Red Devils failed to qualify for the Champions League due to their subpar performance last season.
Countries With the Biggest Trophy Cases
Between the European Cup and Champions League, Spanish clubs have produced the most success in winning the yearly competition. However, just two Spanish clubs share this success of over 16 titles: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. While English clubs haven’t seen the same volume of success that Spanish sides have, more teams have had a chance to wrap their collective hands around the trophy.
Liverpool (5 titles), Manchester United (3 titles), Nottingham Forest (2 titles), Aston Villa (1 title), and Chelsea (1 title) have all won either the European Cup or Champions League. In the 2017 campaign, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester City are the three English sides with a chance to claim Champions League glory. If they could win the cup, it would be the first time for any of these clubs to earn such an honor.
Where Winners Are Born
In the first decade of the European Cup, Real Madrid claimed the top prize five times in a row. They then shared this honor with two Italian sides, AC Milan and Inter Milan, and one Portuguese side, Benfica. These were the only sides that won the right to be called European champions in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The 1970s saw the Spanish and Italian sides moved aside for teams hailing from England, Germany, and the Netherlands. There were also instances of back-to-back winners, with Ajax winning in ’71, ’72, and ’73. Bayern Munich would win in ’74, ’75, and ’76, while Liverpool would do a double in ’77 and ’78.
More recently, there has been a return to Spanish dominance, as Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the last three Champions League trophies.
Quest to Be the Best
Who will win the Champions League this year? Will it be a newcomer or a perennial favorite? Whichever team you’re rooting for, show everyone where your allegiance lies with officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.