How Does The UEFA Champions League Work?

UEFA Champions League Explained

In this sports betting guide, we focus on the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most important club football competition.

To some, it represents the chance to watch the continent’s elite teams in a fight for the prestigious trophy. But, critics will complain that the contest favors a select few clubs.

Just how does the Champions League work? For this UEFA Champions League guide, we go through changes that you need to know.

A brief history of the Champions League

The Champions League has always represented the top tier of European football. But once it functioned under a different name – the European Champion Clubs’ Cup – the setup of the tournament was also drastically different.

It all started in 1955. It was designed to reward the clubs that had won the title in their domestic league the season before.

Thus, the first editions included a single club per country. Fixtures were fewer and there was no qualification process.

The competition morphed into the UEFA Champions League (UCL). The enlarged format included qualifiers and group rounds. Team seeding was introduced. This favored the emergence of derbies in the latter stages of the tournament.

Ultimately the changes were a comprise. UEFA avoided the creation of the Super League. But they could also work on raising the profile of the star-studded Champions League.

UEFA champions league betting
UEFA champions league betting

How is the UEFA Champions League currently set up


Champions League group stage

No longer does a single team qualify per country. The leagues with the highest UEFA ranking are represented by multiple teams.

For example, the Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga all get four clubs. It’s the reason why fans can enjoy derbies like 2018’s Manchester City – Liverpool, despite both teams being British.

There will be 26 teams instantly qualified for the group stage, which were drawn from the UEFA association coefficients at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
The 26 qualified teams will consist of:

  • UEFA Champions League holders.
  • UEFA Europa League holders.
  • Top four teams from associations ranked 1st to 4th.
  • Top two teams from associations ranked 5th and 6th.
  • The champions of associations ranked 7th to 10th.

There are 4 qualification rounds, with 6 teams (down from 10) making it through to the group stage.

Out of the 6 teams, 4 will come from the Champions Route while 2 teams will enter the group stage through the League Route.

The Knockout stage

The qualified clubs (32) are then drawn into eight groups of four teams each. The most important clubs receive seeding.

After playing each team, home and away, the first two teams of each group qualify to the knockout stage. Typically Europe’s best clubs are left standing.

The Champions League final draws hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. UEFA boasts that the 2015 final between Real Madrid and Juventus Turin holds the viewership record.

More than 180 million people watched the match. In fact, the only other football event more popular than this is the World Cup final, held every four years.

Yes, the UCL matches routinely include Europe’s finest teams. While some may critique its format, it without a doubt serves as home to many European derbies.

So, what should we expect from the latest format? Expect the norm; Europe’s biggest teams and the most famous players fighting for the top prize in club football.