Last Friday I went to work wearing Barcelona FC jersey. My coworker asked me, “Hey! What jersey is that? What does FCB stands for?” I told him that it stands for Futbol Club Barcelona and that this is my favorite football team. He asked again, “But the Super Bowl was just last month, right? They are starting a new season right away?”
Me: No man, SuperBowl is for
Football. American Football. This is Soccer. Barcelona is one of the greatest
football / soccer club in the world and it is based in Barcelona, Spain. Leonel
Messi plays for this team. Ever heard of him?
Him: Oh, ya, I know Messi. I read somewhere that Premier League is going on. So, you think they will win the league this year?
Me: No! They do not play in English Premier League. They play for a domestic Spanish league, ‘La Liga’.
Him: *Draws his phone and googles* Then how come they are playing against Manchester United? As far as I know that team plays for England.
Me: Yes, they are playing each other in Champions league.
Him: Now there is Champions league too? How many leagues are there?
That was the moment! I had to educate my friend…
I said, “My dear friend, grab your coffee and have a seat. Let me take you to the exciting journey of European football!”
UEFA Champions league is an annual
football/soccer tournament organized by Union of European Football Association
(UEFA) for the top teams in European Clubs.
The major leagues in European football are;
Premier League from England, La Liga from Spain, Serie A from Italy, Ligue 1 from France, Bundesliga from Germany and so on…
UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and winning it is a BIG DEAL!
Here are the 14 interesting facts about Champions league;
1. Most Popular Annual Sporting Event
Champion’s league final is the most watched annual sporting event in the world. The final of the 2012–13 Champions league final was watched by over 360 million viewers on TV worldwide. If you compare it with the Super Bowl then the most watched SuperBowl (XLIX) was watched by 114 Million people.
2. Real Madrid has the most number of titles, Thirteen!
Barcelona won it 5 times and Manchester United did it 3 times! Here is the list of top 10 teams that have won Champions league since 1955 to 2018.
3. Not everyone gets to participate
Tournament begins in early September with top 32 teams across European clubs from England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy etc. These teams are selected based on the UEFA coefficient of the European club. This coefficient is generated by participation of these clubs in last 5 Champions league tournaments.
4. ‘Europa League’ the little brother
These 32 teams are placed in 8 different groups of 4 teams each. They play among each other and top 2 teams go to the round of 16. 3rd team from each group goes to Europa league (another second tier Champions league for the lost champions).
5. Teams from the same league can’t face each other in the round of 16
The round of 16 is scheduled via a draw where the winner and runner up play against each other, however two teams from the same country cannot play against each other in this round. There are home and away matches and the team with most aggregate goals moves to next round of 8.
6. Bring it on, Rival!
The round of 8 or the quarterfinals and round of 4 or the semifinals are again decided by the draw and there is no restriction for this draw. It means 2 clubs from the same country can face each other in this round.
7. Three countries singing together…
The chorus of the official anthem of the Champions league “Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes! The champions!” is in three different languages. English, French, and German. These are UFEA’s 3 official languages. The anthem is 3 minutes long.
8. Who’s the GOAT?
As of March 2019, Christiano Ronaldo (124 goals in 160 matches) and Lionel Messi (108 goals in 131 matches) hold the top spot of most number of goals scored in Champions league. No other player is near both of them.
9. Not more than 45, mate!
Since 1990, the referee for the Champions League matches cannot exceed the age of 45. Referees have to pass a fitness test by UEFA to qualify.
10. Not every winner gets to keep the trophy
Only a club that has won the Champions league 3 times in a row or 5 times overall wins the right to retain the replica of the trophy. Till date only six clubs won the rights to retain the trophy;
Real Madrid, Milan, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona and Ajax.
11. Fastest Goal scored in Champions League
Bayern Munich’s Roy Makaay scored the fastest UEFA Champions League goal agaist Real Madrid in 2007. He scored it 10.2 seconds after kick-off.
12. Spanish Dominance
Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona altogether won 18 champions leagues. English and Italian clubs are tied at number two with 12 trophies each.
13. Semifinal luck or badluck?
Barcelona have a record to reach semifinals 6 times in a row. They did it from 2007–08 to 2012–13.
14. ‘El Classico’ (Real Madrid Vs Barcelona) never happened in the finals of the Champions league.
It is one of the biggest sport rivalries in the world. They met three times in the semifinals, but never in the finale. If they do, that would be the biggest sports events in the world!
Then I asked my colleague; so my dear friend, which European team are you going to follow??
He though for a second and said…”You mentioned Real Madrid won the most number of titles, right? I ll support them from now on…”