The Need to Know About Champions League

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

You’ve likely heard of the EUFA Champions League and know a little about it but many young players do not know how it works or the importance of it.  The EUFA Champions League is often referred to simply as “The Champions League.”  It is the biggest year around tournament for the best European soccer clubs.  There is tremendous history behind the competition, pride and prize money involved.  The biggest names in the game have often become referred to as the best players due to the performances in the Champions League.   The FIFA World Player of the Year award is often awarded to the player who not only succeeded in domestic competition but in the Champions League. 

How to qualify: the tournament consists of several stages where games are played throughout the regular season.  From the beginning of the tournament there are 77 teams and eventually 32 will qualify for the group stages.  The winner of the Champions League qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as well as the EUFA Super Cup.

First leg:  Once in the group stages, teams are paired with another and play two games before advancing to the next stage.  The first game or first leg as it is referred to is played at home or away depending on the draw.  This is important as away goals are thought to be more difficult to score and thus are awarded more points on aggregate scoring system.    

Second leg:  the second game of the group stages or second leg will be played at the other teams home field.  Home field advantage can greatly help as teams might be behind in aggregate on the first leg yet come from behind in the second leg to win.  Two leg games allow for anything to happen, but also assure the better team usually wins.  There can’t be a fluke goal one game and then you win.  You have to play 2 legs and prove yourself.

Establishing yourself as the best player:  the best players in the world always shine in the biggest games.  Away from the international stage the Champions League is the next biggest competition.  If a player dominates their domestic league yet struggles to make an impact in European competition this is heavily used against them when determining the best players in Europe for that season.

How a Champions League Goal can change everything:  Zinadine Zidane had already won the World Cup with France in 1998, however, in 2002 was playing in the Champions League Final against Bayer Leverkusen.  Real Madrid went on to win the match 2-1 with Zidane scoring the game winner volley which is now regarded as the best goal in Champions League history.  Zidane had already won other championships in club soccer and at the international stage and now guiding his club to Champions League glory further cemented his status as one of the best players of all time.  His goal in the 2002 Champions League final is certainly to date the best goal in the history of the competition. 

Prize Money: EUFA awards 3 million Euro’s to each team that successfully qualifies for the EUFA Champions League.  There is additional compensation for participating in the group stage A.  Teams are given prize money for every win and draw and the prize money increases the further you go in the competition with 7 million Euro’s being awarded to the winners.  By going further in the competition clubs earn more money through television viewership and sponsorship deals amongst other things. 

Let the best play the best:  With the many European clubs and high level of competition the Champions League is the best stage for the top clubs to compete.  It is also interesting to see the different styles of play.  People often talk about which top club in Europe is better than the other and the Champions League answers that question perfectly.

Giving hope to smaller clubs: Finally, the Champions League gives hope to smaller clubs who otherwise cannot showcase their talent in Europe.  It is not uncommon for relatively unknown players from smaller clubs to shine when they play in the Champions League only to be picked up by a bigger club the following season.

What do you like/not like about the Champions League?

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