The UEFA Champions League (abbreviated as UCL) is an annual club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs, deciding the best team in Europe. It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champions (and, for some nations, one or more runners-up) of the strongest UEFA national associations.
Introduced in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup, more commonly known as the European Cup, it was initially a straight knockout tournament open only to the champion club of each national championship. The competition took on its current name in 1992, adding a round-robin group stage and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries. It has since been expanded, and while most of Europe's national leagues can still only enter their champion, the strongest leagues now provide up to five teams. Clubs that finish next-in-line in their national league, having not qualified for the Champions League, are eligible for the second-tier UEFA Europa League competition. (Beginning in 2021, UEFA will hold a third-tier competition called UEFA Europa League 2, which will be composed of teams not eligible for the UEFA Europa League.)
In its present format, the Champions League begins in late June with 2 preliminary rounds, 4 knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 6 surviving teams enter the group stage, joining 26 teams qualified in advance. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams and play each other in a double round-robin system. The eight group winners and eight runners-up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final match in late May or early June. The winner of the Champions League qualifies for the following year's Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
The competition has been won by 22 clubs, 12 of which have won it more than once. Real Madrid is the most successful club in the tournament's history, having won it 13 times, including its first five seasons. Liverpool are the reigning champions, having beaten Tottenham Hotspur 2–0 in the 2019 final. Spanish clubs have the highest number of victories (18 wins), followed by England (13 wins) and Italy (12 wins). England has the largest number of winning teams, with five clubs having won the title.
|UEFA Champions League|
(rebranded in 1992)
|Number of teams||32 (group stage)|
79, 80 or 81 (total)
|Qualifier for||UEFA Super Cup|
FIFA Club World Cup
|Related competitions||UEFA Europa League|
UEFA Europa League 2
(planned 3rd tier)
|Current champions||Liverpool (6th title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Real Madrid (13 titles)|
|Television broadcasters||List of broadcasters|
|2019–20 UEFA Champions League|
The first pan-European tournament was the Challenge Cup, a competition between clubs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Mitropa Cup, a competition modelled after the Challenge Cup, was created in 1927, an idea of Austrian Hugo Meisl, and played between Central European clubs. In 1930, the Coupe des Nations (French: Nations Cup), the first attempt to create a cup for national champion clubs of Europe, was played and organised by Swiss club Servette. Held in Geneva, it brought together ten champions from across the continent. The tournament was won by Újpest of Hungary. Latin European nations came together to form the Latin Cup in 1949.
After receiving reports from his journalists over the highly successful Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones of 1948, Gabriel Hanot, editor of L'Équipe, began proposing the creation of a continent-wide tournament. After Stan Cullis declared Wolverhampton Wanderers "Champions of the World" following a successful run of friendlies in the 1950s, in particular a 3–2 friendly victory against Budapest Honvéd, Hanot finally managed to convince UEFA to put into practice such a tournament. It was conceived in the French city of Paris in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup.
The first edition of the European Cup took place during the 1955–56 season. Sixteen teams participated: Milan (Italy), AGF Aarhus (Denmark), Anderlecht (Belgium), Djurgården (Sweden), Gwardia Warszawa (Poland), Hibernian (Scotland), Partizan (Yugoslavia), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Rapid Wien (Austria), Real Madrid (Spain), Rot-Weiss Essen (West Germany), Saarbrücken (Saar), Servette (Switzerland), Sporting CP (Portugal), Stade de Reims (France), and Vörös Lobogó (Hungary). The first European Cup match took place on 4 September 1955, and ended in a 3–3 draw between Sporting CP and Partizan. The first goal in European Cup history was scored by João Baptista Martins of Sporting CP. The inaugural final took place at the Parc des Princes between Stade de Reims and Real Madrid. The Spanish squad came back from behind to win 4–3 thanks to goals from Alfredo Di Stéfano and Marquitos, as well as two goals from Héctor Rial.
Real Madrid successfully defended the trophy next season in their home stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, against Fiorentina. After a scoreless first half, Real Madrid scored twice in six minutes to defeat the Italians. In 1958, Milan failed to capitalise after going ahead on the scoreline twice, only for Real Madrid to equalise. The final held in Heysel Stadium went to extra time where Francisco Gento scored the game-winning goal to allow Real Madrid to retain the title for the third consecutive season. In a rematch of the first final, Real Madrid faced Stade Reims at the Neckarstadion for the 1958–59 season final, easily winning 2–0. West German side Eintracht Frankfurt became the first non-Latin team to reach the European Cup final. The 1959–60 season finale still holds the record for the most goals scored, with Real Madrid beating Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in Hampden Park, courtesy of four goals by Ferenc Puskás and a hat-trick by Alfredo Di Stéfano. This was Real Madrid's fifth consecutive title, a record that still stands today.
Real Madrid's reign ended in the 1960–61 season when bitter rivals Barcelona dethroned them in the first round. Barcelona themselves, however, would be defeated in the final by Portuguese side Benfica 3–2 at Wankdorf Stadium. Reinforced by Eusébio, Benfica defeated Real Madrid 5–3 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam and kept the title for a second consecutive season. Benfica wanted to repeat Real Madrid's successful run of the 1950s after reaching the showpiece event of the 1962–63 European Cup, but a brace from Brazilian-Italian José Altafini at the Wembley Stadium gave the spoils to Milan, making the trophy leave the Iberian Peninsula for the first time ever. Internazionale beat an ageing-Real Madrid 3–1 in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to win the 1963–64 season and replicate their local-rival's success. The title stayed in the city of Milan for the third year in a row after Inter beat Benfica 1–0 at their home ground, the San Siro.
The UEFA Champions League anthem, officially titled simply as "Champions League", was written by Tony Britten, and is an adaptation of George Frideric Handel's 1727 anthem Zadok the Priest (one of his Coronation Anthems). UEFA commissioned Britten in 1992 to arrange an anthem, and the piece was performed by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. UEFA's official website states, “the anthem is now almost as iconic as the trophy.”
The chorus contains the three official languages used by UEFA: English, German, and French. The climactic moment is set to the exclamations ‘Die Meister! Die Besten! Les Grandes Équipes! The Champions!’. The anthem's chorus is played before each UEFA Champions League game as the two teams are lined up, as well as at the beginning and end of television broadcasts of the matches. In addition to the anthem, there is also entrance music, which contains parts of the anthem itself, which is played as teams enter the field. The complete anthem is about three minutes long, and has two short verses and the chorus.
Special vocal versions have been performed live at the Champions League Final with lyrics in other languages, changing over to the host nation's language for the chorus. These versions were performed by Andrea Bocelli (Italian) (Rome 2009, Milan 2016 and Cardiff 2017), Juan Diego Flores (Spanish) (Madrid 2010), All Angels (Wembley 2011), Jonas Kaufmann and David Garrett (Munich 2012), and Mariza (Lisbon 2014). In the 2013 final at Wembley Stadium, the chorus was played twice. In Kiev 2018, the instrumental version of the chorus was played by 2Cellos. The anthem has been released commercially in its original version on iTunes and Spotify with the title of Champions League Theme. In 2018, composer Hans Zimmer remixed the anthem with rapper Vince Staples for EA Sports’ FIFA video game FIFA 19, with it also featuring in the game's reveal trailer.
In 1991, UEFA asked its commercial partner, Television Event and Media Marketing (TEAM), to help "brand" the Champions League. This resulted in the anthem, "house colours" of black and white or silver and a logo, and the "starball". The starball was created by Design Bridge, a London-based firm selected by TEAM after a competition. TEAM gives particular attention to detail in how the colours and starball are depicted at matches. According to TEAM, "Irrespective of whether you are a spectator in Moscow or Milan, you will always see the same stadium dressing materials, the same opening ceremony featuring the 'starball' centre circle ceremony, and hear the same UEFA Champions League Anthem". Based on research it conducted, TEAM concluded that by 1999, "the starball logo had achieved a recognition rate of 94 percent among fans".
Since the 2009–10 season, the UEFA Champions League begins with a double round-robin group stage of 32 teams, which is preceded by two qualification 'streams' for teams that do not receive direct entry to the tournament proper. The two streams are divided between teams qualified by virtue of being league champions, and those qualified by virtue of finishing 2nd–4th in their national championship.
The number of teams that each association enters into the UEFA Champions League is based upon the UEFA coefficients of the member associations. These coefficients are generated by the results of clubs representing each association during the previous five Champions League and UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup seasons. The higher an association's coefficient, the more teams represent the association in the Champions League, and the fewer qualification rounds the association's teams must compete in.
Four of the remaining six qualifying places are granted to the winners of a six-round qualifying tournament between the remaining 43 or 44 national champions, within which those champions from associations with higher coefficients receive byes to later rounds. The other two are granted to the winners of a three-round qualifying tournament between the 11 clubs from the associations ranked 5 through 15, which have qualified based upon finishing second, or third in their respective national league.
In addition to sporting criteria, any club must be licensed by its national association to participate in the Champions League. To obtain a license, the club must meet certain stadium, infrastructure, and finance requirements.
In 2005–06 season, Liverpool and Artmedia Bratislava became the first teams to reach the Champions League group stage after playing in all three qualifying rounds. In 2008–09 season, both BATE Borisov and Anorthosis Famagusta achieved the same feat. Real Madrid holds the record for the most consecutive appearances in the group stage, having qualified 22 times in a row (1997–present). They are followed by Arsenal on 19 (1998–2016) and Manchester United on 18 (1996–2013).
Between 2003 and 2008, no differentiation was made between champions and non-champions in qualification. The 16 top ranked teams spread across the biggest domestic leagues qualified directly for the tournament group stage. Prior to this, three preliminary knockout qualifying rounds whittled down the remaining teams, with teams starting in different rounds.
An exception to the usual European qualification system happened in 2005, after Liverpool won the Champions League the year before, but did not finish in a Champions League qualification place in the Premier League that season. UEFA gave special dispensation for Liverpool to enter the Champions League, giving England five qualifiers. UEFA subsequently ruled that the defending champions qualify for the competition the following year regardless of their domestic league placing. However, for those leagues with four entrants in the Champions League, this meant that, if the Champions League winner fell outside of its domestic league's top four, it would qualify at the expense of the fourth-placed team in the league. Until 2015–16, no association could have more than four entrants in the Champions League. In May 2012, Tottenham Hotspur finished fourth in the 2011–12 Premier League, two places ahead of Chelsea, but failed to qualify for the 2012–13 Champions League, after Chelsea won the 2012 final. Tottenham were demoted to the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League.
In May 2013, it was decided that, starting from the 2015–16 season (and continuing at least for the three-year cycle until the 2017–18 season), the winners of the previous season's UEFA Europa League would qualify for the UEFA Champions League, entering at least the play-off round, and entering the group stage if the berth reserved for the Champions League title holders was not used. The previous limit of a maximum of four teams per association was increased to five, meaning that a fourth-placed team from one of the top three ranked associations would only have to be moved to the Europa League if both the Champions League and Europa League winners came from that association and both finished outside the top four of their domestic league.
In 2007, Michel Platini, the UEFA president, had proposed taking one place from the three leagues with four entrants and allocating it to that nation's cup winners. This proposal was rejected in a vote at a UEFA Strategy Council meeting. In the same meeting, however, it was agreed that the third-placed team in the top three leagues would receive automatic qualification for the group stage, rather than entry into the third qualifying round, while the fourth-placed team would enter the play-off round for non-champions, guaranteeing an opponent from one of the top 15 leagues in Europe. This was part of Platini's plan to increase the number of teams qualifying directly into the group stage, while simultaneously increasing the number of teams from lower-ranked nations in the group stage.
In 2012, Arsène Wenger referred to qualifying for the Champion's League by finishing in the top four places in the English Premier League as the "4th Place Trophy". The phrase was coined after a pre-match conference when he was questioned about Arsenal's lack of a trophy after exiting the FA Cup. He said "The first trophy is to finish in the top four". At Arsenal's 2012 AGM, Wenger was also quoted as saying: "For me there are five trophies every season: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League..."
The tournament proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups. Seeding is used whilst making the draw for this stage, whilst teams from the same nation may not be drawn into groups together. Each team meets the others in its group home and away in a round-robin format. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round. The third-placed team enters the UEFA Europa League.
For this stage, the winning team from one group plays against the runners-up from another group, and teams from the same association may not be drawn against each other. From the quarter-finals onwards, the draw is entirely random, without association protection. The tournament uses the away goals rule: if the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more goals at their opponent's stadium advances.
The group stage is played from September to December, whilst the knock-out stage starts in February. The knock-out ties are played in a two-legged format, with the exception of the final. The final is typically held in the last two weeks of May or in the early days of June, which has happened in three consecutive odd-numbered years since 2015.
The following is the default access list.
|Teams entering in this round||Teams advancing from the previous round|
|First qualifying round
|Second qualifying round||Champions Path
|Third qualifying round||Champions Path
|Play-off round||Champions Path
Changes will be made to the access list above if the Champions League and/or Europa League title holders qualify for the tournament via their domestic leagues.
The UEFA Refereeing Unit is broken down into five experience-based categories. A referee is initially placed into Category 4 with the exception of referees from France, Germany, England, Italy, or Spain. Referees from these five countries are typically comfortable with top professional matches and are therefore directly placed into Category 3. Each referee's performance is observed and evaluated after every match; his category may be revised twice per season, but a referee cannot be promoted directly from Category 3 to the Elite Category.
In co-operation with the UEFA Refereeing Unit, the UEFA Referee Committee is responsible for appointing referees to matches. Referees are appointed based on previous matches, marks, performances, and fitness levels. To discourage bias, the Champions League takes nationality into account. No referee may be of the same origins as any club in his or her respecting groups. Referee appointments, suggested by the UEFA Refereeing Unit, are sent to the UEFA Referee Committee to be discussed or revised. After a consensus is made, the name of the appointed referee remains confidential up to two days before the match for the purpose of minimising public influence.
Since 1990, a UEFA international referee cannot exceed the age of 45 years. After turning 45, a referee must step down at the end of his season. The age limit was established to ensure an elite level of fitness. Today, UEFA Champions League referees are required to pass a fitness test even to be considered at the international level.
Each year, the winning team is presented with the European Champion Clubs' Cup, the current version of which has been awarded since 1967. Any team that wins the Champions League three years in a row or five times overall wins the right to retain a full-sized replica of the trophy (UEFA retains the original at all times). Six clubs have earned this honour: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, Liverpool and Barcelona. Since then instead the club which wins three years in a row or five overall receives a commemorative badge to wear permanently on their uniform.
The current trophy is 74 cm (29 in) tall and made of silver, weighing 11 kg (24 lb). It was designed by Jörg Stadelmann, a jeweller from Bern, Switzerland, after the original was given to Real Madrid in 1966 in recognition of their six titles to date, and cost 10,000 Swiss francs.
As of the 2012–13 season, 40 gold medals are presented to the Champions League winners, and 40 silver medals to the runners-up.
As of 2018–19, the fixed amount of prize money paid to the clubs is as follows:
This means that at best, a club can earn €82,450,000 of prize money under this structure, not counting shares of the qualifying rounds, play-off round or the market pool.
A large part of the distributed revenue from the UEFA Champions League is linked to the "market pool", the distribution of which is determined by the value of the television market in each nation. For the 2014–15 season, Juventus, who were the runners-up, earned nearly €89.1 million in total, of which €30.9 million was prize money, compared with the €61.0 million earned by Barcelona, who won the tournament and were awarded €36.4 million in prize money.
Like the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League is sponsored by a group of multinational corporations, in contrast to the single main sponsor typically found in national top-flight leagues. When the Champions League was created in 1992, it was decided that a maximum of eight companies should be allowed to sponsor the event, with each corporation being allocated four advertising boards around the perimeter of the pitch, as well as logo placement at pre- and post-match interviews and a certain number of tickets to each match. This, combined with a deal to ensure tournament sponsors were given priority on television advertisements during matches, ensured that each of the tournament's main sponsors was given maximum exposure.
From the 2012–13 knockout phase, UEFA used LED advertising hoardings installed in knock-out participant stadiums, including the final stage. From the 2015–16 season onwards, UEFA has used such hoardings from the play-off round until the final.
The tournament's current main sponsors are:
Adidas is a secondary sponsor and supplies the official match ball, the Adidas Finale, and referee uniform. Hublot is also a secondary sponsor as the official fourth official board of the competition.
Individual clubs may wear jerseys with advertising. However, only one sponsorship is permitted per jersey in addition to that of the kit manufacturer. Exceptions are made for non-profit organisations, which can feature on the front of the shirt, incorporated with the main sponsor or in place of it; or on the back, either below the squad number or on the collar area.
If clubs play a match in a nation where the relevant sponsorship category is restricted (such as France's alcohol advertising restriction), then they must remove that logo from their jerseys. For example, when Rangers played French sides Auxerre and Strasbourg in the 1996–97 Champions League and the UEFA Cup, respectively, Rangers players wore the logo of Center Parcs instead of McEwan's Lager (both companies at the time were subsidiaries of Scottish & Newcastle).
The competition attracts an extensive television audience, not just in Europe, but throughout the world. The final of the tournament has been, in recent years, the most-watched annual sporting event in the world. The final of the 2012–13 tournament had the competition's highest TV ratings to date, drawing approximately 360 million television viewers.
|Club||Titles||Runners-up||Seasons won||Seasons runner-up|
|Real Madrid||13||3||1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018||1962, 1964, 1981|
|Milan||7||4||1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007||1958, 1993, 1995, 2005|
|Liverpool||6||3||1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019||1985, 2007, 2018|
|Bayern Munich||5||5||1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013||1982, 1987, 1999, 2010, 2012|
|Barcelona||5||3||1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015||1961, 1986, 1994|
|Ajax||4||2||1971, 1972, 1973, 1995||1969, 1996|
|Internazionale||3||2||1964, 1965, 2010||1967, 1972|
|Manchester United||3||2||1968, 1999, 2008||2009, 2011|
|Juventus||2||7||1985, 1996||1973, 1983, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015, 2017|
|Benfica||2||5||1961, 1962||1963, 1965, 1968, 1988, 1990|
|Nottingham Forest||2||0||1979, 1980||—|
|Red Star Belgrade||1||0||1991||—|
|Atlético Madrid||0||3||—||1974, 2014, 2016|
The table below does not include goals scored in the qualification stage.
|1||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||126||162||0.78||2003–||Manchester United (15), Real Madrid (105), Juventus (6)|
|3||Raúl||Spain||71||142||0.5||1995–2011||Real Madrid (66), Schalke 04 (5)|
|4||Karim Benzema||France||60||112||0.54||2006–||Lyon (12), Real Madrid (48)|
|5||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Netherlands||56||73||0.77||1998–2009||PSV Eindhoven (8), Manchester United (35), Real Madrid (13)|
|6||Robert Lewandowski||Poland||53||80||0.66||2011–||Borussia Dortmund (17), Bayern Munich (36)|
|7||Thierry Henry||France||50||112||0.45||1997–2010||Monaco (7), Arsenal (35), Barcelona (8)|
|8||Alfredo Di Stéfano||Argentina||49||58||0.84||1955–1964||Real Madrid|
|9||Andriy Shevchenko||Ukraine||48||100||0.48||1994–2012||Dynamo Kyiv (29), Milan (15), Chelsea (4)|
|Zlatan Ibrahimović||Sweden||120||0.4||2001–2017||Ajax (6), Juventus (3), Internazionale (6), Barcelona (4), Milan (9), Paris Saint-Germain (20)|
The table below does not include appearances made in the qualification stage.
|1||Iker Casillas||Spain||177||1999–||Real Madrid (150), Porto (27)|
|2||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||162||2003–||Manchester United (52), Real Madrid (101), Juventus (9)|
|4||Ryan Giggs||Wales||145[a]||1993–2014||Manchester United|
|5||Raúl||Spain||142||1995–2011||Real Madrid (130), Schalke 04 (12)|
|9||Clarence Seedorf||Netherlands||125||1994–2012||Ajax (11), Real Madrid (25), Milan (89)|
|10||Paul Scholes||England||124||1994–2013||Manchester United|
Rangers have actually sported the Center Parcs logo during the course of two seasons.
The 2004–05 UEFA Champions League was the 50th season of UEFA's premier European club football tournament, and the 13th since it was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League in 1992. The competition was won by Liverpool, who beat Milan on penalties in the final, having come back from 3–0 down at half-time. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was named as UEFA's Footballer of the Year for his key role in the final and throughout the Champions League season. The final, played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, is often regarded as one of the best in the history of the tournament. With eight goals, Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy was the top scorer for the third time in four seasons.
As it was their fifth European Cup title, Liverpool were awarded the trophy permanently, and received the UEFA Badge of Honour. A new trophy was made for the 2005–06 season.
Porto were the defending champions, but were eliminated by Milan's cross-city rival Internazionale in the first knockout round.2005–06 UEFA Champions League
The 2005–06 UEFA Champions League was the 51st season of UEFA's premier European club football tournament, the UEFA Champions League and the 14th since it was rebranded from the European Cup in 1992. 74 teams from 50 football associations took part, starting with the first qualifying round played on 12 July 2005.
The tournament ended with a final between Arsenal and Barcelona at Stade de France, Paris, on 17 May 2006. Barcelona won 2–1 with Juliano Belletti scoring a late winner. Arsenal had taken the lead through a Sol Campbell header in the 37th minute, despite Jens Lehmann being sent off in the 18th minute. Samuel Eto'o brought Barcelona back on level terms in the 76th minute before Belletti scored the winner five minutes later.
The defending champions Liverpool were eliminated by Benfica in the first knockout round.2006–07 UEFA Champions League
The 2006–07 UEFA Champions League was the 15th season of UEFA's premier European club football tournament, the UEFA Champions League, since it was rebranded from the European Cup, and the 52nd season overall. The final was contested by Milan and Liverpool on 23 May 2007. Beforehand, the match was billed as a repeat of the 2005 final, the only difference being that the 2007 final was to be played at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece. Milan won the match 2–1 to claim their seventh European Cup, with both goals coming from Filippo Inzaghi. Dirk Kuyt scored for Liverpool.
Barcelona were the defending champions, but were eliminated by Liverpool in the first knockout round.2007–08 UEFA Champions League
The 2007–08 UEFA Champions League was the 16th season of UEFA's premier European club football tournament, the UEFA Champions League, since it was rebranded in 1992, and the 53rd tournament overall.
The final was played on 21 May 2008 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, where Manchester United played against Chelsea, making it an all-English final for the first time in the history of the European Cup. Manchester United won the match 6–5 on penalties, following a 1–1 draw after extra time.
Milan were the defending champions, but were eliminated by Arsenal in the first knockout round.2008–09 UEFA Champions League
The 2008–09 UEFA Champions League was the 54th edition of Europe's premier club football tournament and the 17th edition under the current UEFA Champions League format. The final was played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 27 May 2009. It was the eighth time the European Cup final has been held in Italy and the fourth time it has been held at the Stadio Olimpico. The final was contested by the defending champions, Manchester United, and Barcelona, who had last won the tournament in 2006. Barcelona won the match 2–0, with goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, securing The Treble in the process. In addition, both UEFA Cup finalists, Werder Bremen and Shakhtar Donetsk featured in the Champions League group stage.
Anorthosis of Cyprus and BATE Borisov of Belarus were the first teams from their respective countries to qualify for the group stage. Romanian side CFR Cluj and Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg also made their Champions League debuts.2009–10 UEFA Champions League
The 2009–10 UEFA Champions League was the 55th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 18th under the current UEFA Champions League format. The final was played on 22 May 2010, at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. The final was won by Italian club Inter Milan, who beat German side Bayern Munich 2–0. Internazionale went on to represent Europe in the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup, beating Congolese side TP Mazembe 3–0 in the final, and played in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup against Europa League winners Atlético Madrid, losing 2–0.
Barcelona were the defending champions, but were eliminated by eventual winners Internazionale in the semi-finals.2010–11 UEFA Champions League
The 2010–11 UEFA Champions League was the 56th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 19th under the current UEFA Champions League format. The final was held at Wembley Stadium in London on 28 May 2011, where Barcelona defeated Manchester United 3–1. Internazionale were the defending champions, but were eliminated by Schalke 04 in the quarter-finals. As winners, Barcelona earned berths in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup and the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.2011–12 UEFA Champions League
The 2011–12 UEFA Champions League was the 57th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 20th season in its current Champions League format. As part of a trial that started in the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League, two extra officials – one behind each goal – were used in all matches of the competition from the play-off round.The final was held at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. Chelsea's caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo led the club to win their first Champions League title after beating Bayern Munich 4–3 on penalties in the final. As tenants of the Allianz Arena (known as Fußball Arena München for the final), this meant that Bayern were the first finalists to have home advantage since 1984. By winning the tournament, Chelsea earned a berth at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup and 2012 UEFA Super Cup. Barcelona were the defending champions, but were eliminated by the eventual winners Chelsea in the semi-finals.2012–13 UEFA Champions League
The 2012–13 UEFA Champions League was the 58th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 21st season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The final was played at Wembley Stadium in London, England, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the formation of England's Football Association, the world's oldest football association. It came just two years after Wembley hosted the final in 2011, making it the seventh occasion Wembley Stadium (current and old) had hosted the Champions League final. Bayern Munich, who had been runners-up in 2011-12, won by defeating Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2–1 via an 89th-minute goal from Arjen Robben. This was Bayern's 10th final, their first European Cup title in 12 years, and their fifth overall. This was the first all-German final, and the fourth final to feature two teams from the same association, after the finals of 2000, 2003, and 2008.
The defending champions, Chelsea, were eliminated in the group stage, becoming the first title holders to leave the competition at this stage. They went on to win the 2013 Europa League final, and became the first team to win the Europa League while still retaining their Champions League crown.2013–14 UEFA Champions League
The 2013–14 UEFA Champions League was the 59th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 22nd season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The 2014 UEFA Champions League Final was played between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal, marking the fifth final to feature two teams from the same association (after the finals of 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2013) and the first time in tournament history that both finalists were from the same city. Real Madrid, who eliminated the title holders, Bayern Munich, in the semi-finals, won in extra time, giving them a record-extending tenth European Cup/Champions League title. Real equalized late in the second half through Sergio Ramos and then pulled away during extra time to win 4–1.For the first time, the clubs who qualified for the group stage also qualified for the newly formed 2013–14 UEFA Youth League, a competition available to players aged 19 or under.2014–15 UEFA Champions League
The 2014–15 UEFA Champions League was the 60th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 23rd season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The 2015 UEFA Champions League Final was played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, with Spanish side Barcelona defeating Italian side Juventus by 3–1 to win their fifth title and complete their treble. Real Madrid were the title holders, but they were eliminated by Juventus in the semi-finals.
This season was the first where clubs must comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations in order to participate. Moreover, this season was the first where a club from Gibraltar competed in the tournament, after the Gibraltar Football Association was accepted as the 54th UEFA member at the UEFA Congress in May 2013. They were granted one spot in the Champions League, which was taken by Lincoln Red Imps, the champions of the 2013–14 Gibraltar Premier Division.On 17 July 2014, the UEFA emergency panel ruled that Ukrainian and Russian clubs would not be drawn against each other "until further notice" due to the political unrest between the countries. Another ruling centred in regional instability was also made where Israeli teams were prohibited from hosting any UEFA competitions due to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. The rules regarding suspension due to yellow card accumulation were also changed such that all bookings expired on completion of the quarter-finals and were not carried forward to the semi-finals. Moreover, this was the first season in which vanishing spray was used.2015–16 UEFA Champions League
The 2015–16 UEFA Champions League was the 61st season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 24th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona were the title holders, but were eliminated by Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals.
The 2016 UEFA Champions League Final was played between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid at the San Siro in Milan, Italy. It was the second time in the tournament's history that both finalists were from the same city, after the same clubs faced each other in the 2014 final. Real Madrid defeated Atlético Madrid 5–3 on penalties (1–1 after extra time) in the final to win a record-extending eleventh European Cup/Champions League title.
As the winners of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid qualified as the UEFA representative at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan (their third Club World Cup appearance), and also earned the right to play against the winners of the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League, Sevilla, in the 2016 UEFA Super Cup.2016–17 UEFA Champions League
The 2016–17 UEFA Champions League was the 62nd season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 25th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The final was played between Juventus and Real Madrid at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. It was the second time that the two teams faced each other in the competition's decisive match, having previously met in the 1998 final. Real Madrid, the defending champions, beat Juventus 4–1 to win a record-extending 12th title. With this victory, Real Madrid became the first team to successfully defend their title in the Champions League era, and the first to successfully defend a European Cup since Milan in 1990.
As winners, Real Madrid qualified as the UEFA representative for the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and also earned the right to play against the winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League, Manchester United, in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup.2017–18 UEFA Champions League
The 2017–18 UEFA Champions League was the 63rd season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, the 26th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The final was played between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. Real Madrid, the defending champions, beat Liverpool 3–1 to win a record-extending 13th title and their third title in a row.
As winners, Real Madrid qualified as the UEFA representative for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and also earned the right to play against the winners of the 2017–18 UEFA Europa League, Atlético Madrid, in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. Moreover, they would also have been automatically qualified for the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League group stage, but since they had already qualified through their league performance, the berth reserved was given to the champions of the 2017–18 Czech First League, the 11th-ranked association according to the 2018–19 access list.2018–19 UEFA Champions League
The 2018–19 UEFA Champions League was the 64th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 27th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The final was played at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain, between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. It was the second all-English final after the 2008 final, which was contested between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow. Liverpool defeated Tottenham 2–0 and have earned the right to play against Chelsea, the winners of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League, in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup; they also qualified for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. They automatically qualified for the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League group stage. As Liverpool had already qualified for the group stage by clinching the second place at domestic league, the berth reserved for the English runner-up was given to the champions of the 2018–19 Austrian Bundesliga – the 11th-ranked association according to next season's access list.For the first time, the video assistant referee (VAR) system was used in the competition from the round of 16 onward.Real Madrid were the defending champions, having won each of the last three titles. They were eliminated by Ajax in the round of 16.2019 UEFA Champions League Final
The 2019 UEFA Champions League Final was the final match of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League, the 64th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 27th season since it was rebranded the UEFA Champions League. It was played at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain on 1 June 2019, between English sides Tottenham Hotspur, in their first European Cup final, and Liverpool, in their ninth final overall and their second in a row, having been defeated by Real Madrid in 2018. It was the seventh Champions League final – and the fourth of the decade – to feature two teams from the same association, and the second all-English final after 2008. It was also the first final since 2013 to not feature at least one Spanish team, with Real Madrid and Barcelona having shared the previous five titles between them.
Liverpool won the final 2–0, with a penalty which was converted after 106 seconds by Mohamed Salah and a strike by substitute Divock Origi after 87 minutes. As winners, for the sixth time overall and the first time since 2005, Liverpool earned the right to play in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, as well as against Chelsea, the winners of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League, in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. They were to also qualify to enter the group stage of the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League. However, as Liverpool already qualified through their league position, the reserved berth was given to the champions of the 2018–19 Austrian Bundesliga, the 11th-ranked association according to next season's access list.In March 2018, UEFA announced that a fourth substitution would be allowed in extra time and that the number of substitutes would be increased from 7 to 12. The kick-off time was also changed from 20:45 CEST to 21:00 CEST. The match was also the first Champions League final to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.2019–20 UEFA Champions League
The 2019–20 UEFA Champions League will be the 65th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 28th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.
The final will be played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey. The winners of the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League will earn the right to play against the winners of the 2019–20 UEFA Europa League in the 2020 UEFA Super Cup; they will also qualify for the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. They will also automatically qualify for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League group stage, and if they have already qualified through their league performance, the berth reserved will be given to the champions of the 2019–20 Eredivisie, the 11th-ranked association according to next season's access list.
The video assistant referee (VAR) system will be used in the competition from the play-off round onwards.Liverpool are the defending champions.List of European Cup and UEFA Champions League finals
The UEFA Champions League is a seasonal football competition established in 1955. The UEFA Champions League is open to the league champions of all UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) member associations (except Liechtenstein, which has no league competition), as well as to the clubs finishing from second to fourth position in the strongest leagues. Prior to the 1992–93 season, the tournament was named the European Cup. Originally, only the champions of their respective national league and the defending champion of the competition were allowed to participate. However, this was changed in 1997 to allow the runners-up of the stronger leagues to compete as well. In the Champions League era, the defending champion of the competition did not automatically qualify until the rules were changed in 2005 to allow title holders Liverpool to enter the competition.Teams that have won the UEFA Champions League three times in a row, or five times overall, receive a multiple-winner badge. Six teams have earned this privilege: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, Liverpool, and Barcelona. Until 2009, clubs that had earned that badge were allowed to keep the European Champion Clubs' Cup and a new one was commissioned; since 2009, the winning team each year has received a full-size replica of the trophy, while the original is retained by UEFA.A total of 22 clubs have won the Champions League/European Cup. Real Madrid hold the record for the most victories, having won the competition 13 times, including the inaugural competition. They have also won the competition the most times in a row, winning it five times from 1956 to 1960. Juventus have been runners-up the most times, losing seven finals. Atlético Madrid is the only team to reach three finals without having won the trophy while Reims and Valencia have finished as runners-up twice without winning. Spain has provided the most champions, with 18 wins from two clubs. Italy have produced 12 winners from three clubs and England have produced 13 winners from five clubs. English teams were banned from the competition for five years following the Heysel disaster in 1985. The current champions are Liverpool, who beat Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 final.List of European Cup and UEFA Champions League top scorers
The UEFA Champions League, known until 1992 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or colloquially as the European Cup, is an annual association football cup competition organised by UEFA since 1955. Originally a straight knockout competition open only to champion clubs, the tournament was expanded during the 1990s to incorporate a round-robin group phase and more teams. The expansion resulted in more games being played, increasing players' goalscoring chances, thus the list below is weighted in favour of modern players.