The UEFA Champions League (European Cup) is the most prestigious club competition in the world. The best teams from Europe play each other over the season to determine who is the best football club in Europe and arguably on the planet. Champions League tickets are in demand especially during the knockout rounds with Champions League Final tickets being the biggest game of all. Tickets for the Champions League group stages range from £40/€60 up to £175/€250 for the bigger games. Tickets to the Knockout stages can cost much more depending on the draw and fixtures of the tournament. Get your Champions League tickets at the cheapest prices from SafeTicketCompare.com. The home of football tickets in the UK and Europe.
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UEFA Champions League is by far the most well-known club competition in the world. Despite its status as the annual continental tournament, similar to Copa Libertadores of CONMEBOL or CONCACAF Champions League, UCL, as it is sometimes nicknamed, has gained its reputation of the big table league as it is the competition which the entire elite teams in Europe gather to play for the best in the region.
Initially, UEFA Champions League contestants were only for the top flight league winners of each European nation when it was introduced in 1955. The format was directly to the knockout round without any group stage and used to be recognised as the European Cup. Yet, since its huge success, both in terms of quality and business, the European football governing body finally decided to renew the name and format in 1992/93 season to attract more sponsors. Adding a group stage was only the first to several changes made in the tournament throughout the years.
Before the emergence of UEFA Champions League, there had been several regional tournaments held separately from 1895 World Championship in United Kingdom, Challenge Cup followed by Mitropa Cup in central Europe, Balkans Cup in Eastern Europe and Latin Cup in the Southwest. However, the inspiration, as a matter of fact, came from across the continent, the success of South American Championship in 1948. It was also considered the predecessor of Copa Libertadores. The UEFA Congress in March 1955 finally approved the European Cup proposal to be held in 1955/56 season.
Since the first edition, only big, high profile teams from the major European leagues can eventually thrive and win UCL. Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester United, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan are only a few of those who have clinched so-called the ‘Big Ear’ trophy more than ones. Their success season after season from the past to present days and years to come has created a magical exclusivity in the competition or often regarded as ‘the tradition’.
Such has led to the golden circle among the elites and since its re-branding in 1993 it has become even harder for any teams outside the high profile ones to win the silverware. Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea are the only sides which managed to clinch this prestigious top-tier European title. Real Madrid still holds the record of winning the most trophies with 13 titles so far, followed by AC Milan with seven titles and Bayern Munich winning six times. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is the record holder for the appearance with 178 games since 2003 and goal scoring with 136 goals followed by his long standing rival, Lionel Messi with 121 goals.
This competition, which has drawn 360 million television viewers on average, has progressive lucrative prize money in each stage. With plenty of global brands lining up as its sponsor, UCL has been revamped several times. In 1992/93, the group stage was added at the later stage for the best eight teams going though from the play offs. But it only last for two seasons. In 1994/95, the group stage becomes the preliminary round with sixteen teams qualifying from the play offs. The top two teams from each group shall advance to the quarter finals onwards. Next, in 1998/99, for the first time UCL also included the non league winners from major top leagues such as English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga.
The groups were added to six with twenty four participants. Then, the following year saw another big change but allowing those top leagues in UEFA league coefficient to send three to four sides. Such coefficient decides the clubs’ position in the pools at the drawing based on their continental campaign in the last five seasons. The format was renewed by two-time group stages. The first one was in eight groups for 32 teams in the preliminary round whilst the second one consisted of four groups at the secondary stage for 16 teams before the knock out stage. Such only went on till 2002/03 season. The last format alteration was laid out in 2003/04 by abolishing the second group stage due to the threat of players’ fatigue and excessive fixtures. It was replaced by contesting the round of 16 in the knockout format before the last eight and onwards.
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There have been a number of historic moments in the champions league so far from the beginning to the pandemic days. Real Madrid’s five consecutive successes in the first five editions was the first one. It was the golden days of Alfredo di Stefano and Co which contributed to seal their winning mentality in this competition. The next ones were the double hat trick titles in 1970s. Ajax Amsterdam did it between 1971-1973 and instantly followed by Bayern Munich from 1974 to 1976.
Then, the reign of English cups began. They dominated the tournaments from 1977 to 1984 by only failing in 1983. Unfortunately, their glory days were halted by their own brutal fans leading to the horrific Heysel tragedy in 1985 final when The Reds lost to Juventus by a single penalty goal of Michel Platini. Consequently, English teams were banned for five seasons in all European competitions. During their dark days, AC Milan rose to dominate Europe and the world between 1989 and 1995. Franco Baresi and Co won three times in five finals.
The Champions League also sees the emerging ‘mythical Munchen’. The city in Bavarian region has gained its reputation for the new UCL winners site. In each and every finals held in the home ground of Bayern Munich, the new unlikely champions without any historic tradition have always had their way to lift the trophy. The success of Nottingham Forest in 1979, Marseille in 1993, Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Chelsea in 2012 have been the solid proof of this unusual phenomenon.
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