Click Here

You are Here: Home > Soccer > Football 101: An Introduction To "The Beautiful Game". The UEFA Champions League
Football 101: An Introduction To "The Beautiful Game". The UEFA Champions League
By STEVEN McMENEMY, MOP Squad Sports Soccer Editor
Jan 22, 2005, 11:56
As club soccer tournaments go then this one has no equal. Quite simply it is the most coveted prize in soccer and it is the hope of every big European club at the start of every season that they win this above any other trophy.

Of course they can only win the Champions League if they have qualified to play in that seasons competition. So how does a team gain qualification?


The tournament is run by Uefa, the governing body for soccer in Europe. In years gone by the Champions League was known as the Champions Cup, and the only teams that participated in it were the Champions from each country in Europe, the teams that won their own respective leagues in the previous season. It was run as a knockout tournament with teams being paired together and playing each other home and away, with the aggregate winner going through to the next round.

The format of the competition was changed in the 1990's to a league set up, with 4 teams in each league playing each other home and away. The top two clubs would then qualify for the next round.

Around the same time as a change in format the organisers
changed the qualification criteria too. Now it was not only the champions who qualified but as many as four clubs could qualify from each league, depending on the previous success of those leagues in past european competition.

The result of this change has undoubtedly led to a far more exciting competition but it has had a negative efect on the clubs playing in the smaller leagues in Europe. They are forced to play in a qualifying round of games in order to get a place in the Champions League, but they are hindered because the teams they have to play are normally the 3rd placed teams from the larger succesful leagues.

Porto pick up the coveted UEFA Champions League Trophy after a 3-0 win over Monaco. Picture

As a result the small are getting smaller and the big clubs are getting bigger, but alas this seems an inevitable outcome of soccer in the modern age.

The current format for the Champions League after the qualifying rounds are over is as follows:

There are eight groups of four teams, each club playing each other home and away for a total of six games. The top two teams after the round of 6 games then qualify for the next round of the competition.

This round is a knockout stage where the teams are paired up and then play each other home and away, with the winner going on to the next round. This is repeated until there are only two clubs left to compete in the Champions League Final.

So there you have it, a run down of the Uefa Champions League format. Now when you see the most exciting soccer tournament taking shape you can do so with the background knowledge required. Sit back and feel the satisfaction that comes when you realise how wonderful the "beautiful game" really is, at least when you understand it.