A Brief History Of The UEFA Champions League
An incursion into the most successful champions’ league sides in history wouldn’t be complete without a history of the competition itself. Initially founded in 1955, the UEFA Champions didn’t always bear this name. While you may remember it as the European Cup, the competition was originally named Coupe des Clubs Champions Européens, which is French for European Champions Cup. So yeah, Football Manager and those other games aren’t wrong for calling it the ECC. The European Cup used to be an exclusive knockout competition for the winners of domestic leagues across Europe. Whoever won the competition then took the position of the Champion of Europe.
It wasn’t until the 1991/92 when the competition took on its present name that UEFA introduced group stages. The competition has now been expanded, with as many as 79 teams competing to make it to the group stage. For instance, most domestic leagues in Europe only get to field one representative (their champion), while the stronger and more competitive leagues get to feature as many as four clubs.
Other clubs may make it to the group stages via the playoffs. The playoffs usually begin in the summer or pre-season to allow draws to be made in time for the group stages. There are thirty-two teams at the group stage level, slugging it out for a knockout stage berth. Twenty-six of those teams qualify in advance via their domestic league performances, while six come in through the playoffs. The numerous fixtures available in the UCL make them an exciting option for apple pay sportsbooks lovers.
The top two teams in each group then qualify for two-legged knockout stages, retaining the round-robin system of the group stages. The third-best team in each of the eight groups then drops down to the UEFA Europa League. Clubs may also attain qualification for the Champions League by winning either of the UCL or Europa League titles. Thus, the Champions League winner represents Europe in the FIFA Club World Cup and qualifies to play in the UEFA Super Cup and the following Champions League season.
The Most Successful Champions League Teams In History
Since the inception of the tournament in 1955, a total of twenty-two clubs have won the title. Of this number, twelve club sides have triumphed at least twice, while only eight have successfully defended the title. The Spanish, English, and Italian clubs have been more successful in the Competition with eighteen, thirteen, and twelve wins. Now, we take a look at the top club sides to have graced European football’s grandest stage.
- Real Madrid
Spanish side Real Madrid is the most successful team in UEFA Champions League history. Los Blancos is also one of the eight teams to have successfully defended their Champions League crown. Real Madrid’s dominance in the competition stretches back to its inception when they won the first five editions from 1955 to 1960. A similar feat also took place between 2016 and 2018 when they emerged victorious in three consecutive seasons.
Real Madrid has won thirteen UEFA Champions League trophies altogether, making them the most successful team in UCL history. They are currently in the semifinal stage of the 2021 UCL and will be hoping to finish their run with another cup win. Should they make it to the final, Los Blancos fans know history is on their side as they have only lost three finals of a possible sixteen.
- AC Milan
AC Milan’s reputation as one of the strongest sides in European football took a hit over the past few years, but the Italian side is beginning to ascend again. The Rossoneri have seven UEFA Champions League titles to their name and are among Italy’s most successful teams with 18 Serie A wins. The 2005 UCL final nicknamed the Miracle of Istanbul remains a bad memory in the heart of Milan fans whose expectations of an eighth UCL trophy were dashed. Nonetheless, Milan is also on the list of successful defending UCL Champions, retaining the trophy in 1989 and 1990.
- Bayern Munich
German side Bayern is third on the list with a haul of 6 trophies. Though they got knocked out in the quarterfinals stage this season, Bayern emerged victorious last season after huge wins against Barcelona and PSG. Die Bayern has appeared in eleven UCL finals to date, winning six of those and losing five. Their most recent loss came in 2012 at the hands of English side Chelsea. Bayern has also done a hattrick of UCL wins, triumphing consecutively between 1974 and 1976.
Merseyside giants Liverpool is the most successful English team in the Champions League. The English side has been in nine finals, culminating in six wins and three losses. The reds rose from ashes to win the 2019 edition after losing out to UCL big boys’ Real in the 2018 season. Liverpool is also famous in this competition, having performed the Miracle of Istanbul in 2005 to edge past Milan for their fifth UCL title.
Famed Spanish giants Barcelona are not left out of this list. Though their wins are dwarfed by Madrid’s, Barca has held their own and has five champions league hauls to their name. Their most recent success came back in 2015, and the Blaugrana will be itching to record another UCL win before Messi retires. Of the top five, Barca has been in the fewest finals with eight appearances. They are also the only team in the top five yet to successfully defend their UCL crown.
Rounding up the top ten are Ajax with four UCL wins, Manchester United and Inter Milan with three each, Juventus and Benfica with two wins apiece.