Champions League Stadiums & Stats

champions league
By Riccardo de conciliis (Coppacampioni.png Wikipedia Italie) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Champions League, formerly known as the European Cup, is the pinnacle of club football in Europe and being honest in the world too. Each year up to 79 teams from Europe's top 55 ranked leagues (except Lichtenstein) enter into the Champions League. The final 32 is then arranged into eight groups with the winner and runner up progressing to a final 16 knock out stage. This culminates in late May or early June each year as one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar, the champions league final.

The 2020 final was due to be held in Istanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium but this was changed to Lisbon's Estadio da Luz due to the corna virus outbreak that saw the knockout stages held behind closed doors in a single-leg competition over two weeks. Therefore the final for 2021 will now be held in Istanbul and will, hopefully, revert back to its normal format with the final due to be played on Saturday 29th May 2021.

The winner can expect to receive €19 million on top of the millions in fees for reaching the group stages and later stages. At the most teams can earn up to €82.5 million. On this page you will find all of the information about the Champions League from the qualifying to the final. This includes tournament and club statistics, fixtures, stadium details, history and more.

Champions League Stadiums

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
Allianz Arena
Bayern Munich / TSV 1860 München
2005 75,000 71,000 75,000 B Munich v Schalke 04 (2015)
Liverpool FC
1884 53,094 53,053 61,905 Liverpool v Wolves (1952)
Atatürk Olympic Stadium
2002 76,761 79,414 Galatasaray v Olympiacos (2002)
Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium
İstanbul Başakşehir F.K.
2014 17,156 2,212
Borussia Mönchengladbach
2004 54,057 51,715 54,010
Camp Nou
FC Barcelona
1957 99,354 76,704 120,000 Barcelona v Juventus (1986)
Estádio do Dragão
FC Porto
2003 52,000 31,653 52,000 Porto v Barcelona (2003)
Georgios Karaiskakis
Olympiacos, Greece National Team
2004 32,115 23,248 42,415 Olympiacos vs AEK Athens (1965)
Jan Breydel Stadium
Club Brugge KV
1975 29,062 26,129 28,728
Johan Cruyff Arena
AFC Ajax / Netherlands
1996 53,502 50,905 53,502
Juventus Stadium
2011 41,507 39,489 41,470 Juventus v Roma (Dec 2016)
Krestovsky Stadium
Zenit St. Petersburg
2017 68,134 49,708 64,468 Russia v Egypt (2018)
NSC Olimpiyskiy
Dynamo Kyiv & Shaktar Donesk
1923 70,050 28,931 100,062 Dynamo Kiev v Utrecht 1985
Old Trafford
Manchester United FC
1910 76,000 74,879 76,962 Wolves vs Grimsby Town (1939)
Parc des Princes
Paris Saint-Germain
1972 47,929 46,930 49,575 PSG v Waterschei (1983)
Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
1958 42,500 34,191
Red Bull Arena (Leipzig)
RB Leipzig
2004 42,959 41,385 43,348 RB Leipzig v VfL Wolfsburg (2015)
Red Bull Arena (Salzburg)
FC Red Bull Salzburg
2003 31,895 7,011 30,188 FC Red Bull Salzburg v Arsenal (2007)
RZD Arena
Locomotiv Moscow
2002 27,320 12,508 26,109 Lokomotiv Moscow v Zenit Saint Petersburg (05/05/2018)
San Siro
AC Milan & Inter Milan
1926 80,018 48,358 83,381 Inter Milan v Schalke (1997)
Santiago Bernabéu
Real Madrid
1947 81,044 73,081 128,000 Real Madrid v D Zagreb (1974)
Signal Iduna Park
Borussia Dortmund
1974 81,359 80,520 83,000 Dortmund v Schalke 2004
Stade Velodrome
Olympique de Marseille
1937 67,394 47,057 65,252 Marseille v PSG (2017)
Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia
1928 21,300 17,921 43,000 Unknown
Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma / SS Lazio
1937 70,634 21,274 100,000 Italy v Hungary (1953)
Stamford Bridge
Chelsea FC
1877 41,631 40,437 82,905 Cheslea v Arsenal (1935)
The Etihad
Manchester City FC
2003 55,097 54,130 54,693 Manchester City v Leicester City (2016)
Wanda Metropolitano
Atletico Madrid
2017 67,703 54,379 66,591 Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid (2017)


FixtureDate & TimeStadium
?v?Sat 29th MayAtatürk Olympic Stadium

Semi Finals

FixtureDate & TimeStadium
PSGvMan CityTues 27th AprilParc des Princes
Real MadridvChelseaTues 27th AprilSantiago Bernabéu
Man CityvPSGTues 4th MayThe Etihad
ChelseavReal MadridTues 4th MayStamford Bridge

Quarter Finals

FixtureDate & TimeStadium
Man CityvB DortmundTues 6th AprilThe Etihad
Real MadridvLiverpoolTues 6th AprilSantiago Bernabéu
B MunichvPSGWed 7th AprilAllianz Arena
PortovChelseaWed 7th AprilStamford Bridge
ChelseavPortoTues 13th AprilEstádio do Dragão
PSGvB MunichTues 13th AprilParc des Princes
LiverpoolvReal MadridWed 14th AprilAnfield
B DortmundvMan CityWed 14th AprilSignal Iduna Park

Round of 16

FixtureDate & TimeStadium
BarcelonavPSGTues 16th Feb Camp Nou
RB LeipzigvLiverpoolTues 16th Feb Red Bull Arena Leipzig
PortovJuventusWed 17th Feb Estádio do Dragão
SevillavB DortmundWed 17th Feb Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
Atl MadridvChelseaTues 23rd Feb Wanda Metropolitano
LaziovB MunichTues 23rd Feb Stadio Olmipico
AtalantavReal MadridWed 24th Feb Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia
B Mö'gladvMan CityWed 24th Feb Borussia Park
B DortmundvSevillaTues 9th March Signal Iduna Park
JuventusvPortoTues 9th March Juventus Stadium
LiverpoolvRB LeipzigWed 10th March Anfield
PSGvBarcelonaWed 10th March Parc des Princes
Man CityvB Mö'gladTues 16th March The Etihad
Real MadridvAtalantaTues 16th March Santiago Bernabéu
ChelseavAtl MadridWed 17th March Stamford Bridge
B MunichvLazioWed 17th March Allianz Arena

Group Stages

Group A

RB Salzburg v LocomotivWeds 21st OctRed Bull Arena
B Munich v Atl MadridWeds 21st OctAllianz Arena
Locomotiv v B MunichTues 27th OctRZD Arena
Atl Madrid v RB SalzburgTues 27th OctWanda Metropolitano
Locomotiv v Atl MadridTues 3rd NovRZD Arena
RB Salzburg v B MunichTues 3rd NovRed Bull Arena
Atl Madrid v LocomotivWeds 25th NovWanda Metropolitano
B Munich v RB SalzburgWeds 25th NovAllianz Arena
Locomotiv v RB SalzburgTues 1st DecRZD Arena
Atl Madrid v B MunichTues 1st DecWanda Metropolitano
B Munich v LocomotivWeds 9th DecAllianz Arena
RB Salzburg v Atl MadridWeds 9th DecRed Bull Arena

Group B

Real Madrid v S DoneskWeds 21st OctSantiago Bernabéu
Inter Milan v B Mö'gladWeds 21st OctSan Siro
S Donesk v Inter MilanTues 27th OctNSC Olimpiyskiy
B Mö'glad v Real MadridTues 27th OctBorussia Park
S Donesk v B Mö'gladTues 3rd NovNSC Olimpiyskiy
Real Madrid v Inter MilanTues 3rd NovSantiago Bernabéu
B Mö'glad v S DoneskWeds 25th NovBorussia Park
Inter Milan v Real MadridWeds 25th NovSan Siro
S Donesk v Real MadridTues 1st DecNSC Olimpiyskiy
B Mö'glad v Inter MilanTues 1st DecBorussia Park
Real Madrid v B Mö'gladWeds 9th DecSantiago Bernabéu
Inter Milan v S DoneskWeds 9th DecSan Siro

Group C

Man City v PortoWeds 21st OctThe Etihad
Olympiacos v MarseilleWeds 21st OctGeorgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Porto v OlympiacosTues 27th OctEstádio do Dragão
Marseille v Man CityTues 27th OctStade Velodrome
Man City v OlympiacosTues 3rd NovThe Etihad
Porto v MarseilleTues 3rd NovEstádio do Dragão
Olympiacos v Man CityWeds 25th NovGeorgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Marseille v PortoWeds 25th NovStade Velodrome
Marseille v OlympiacosTues 1st DecStade Velodrome
Porto v Man CityTues 1st DecEstádio do Dragão
Man City v MarseilleWeds 9th DecThe Etihad
Olympiacos v PortoWeds 9th DecGeorgios Karaiskakis Stadium

Group D

Ajax v LiverpoolWeds 21st OctAmsterdam Arena
Midtjylland v AtalantaWeds 21st OctMCH Arena
Liverpool v MidtjyllandTues 27th OctAnfield
Atalanta v AjaxTues 27th OctStadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia
Midtjylland v AjaxTues 3rd NovMCH Arena
Atalanta v LiverpoolTues 3rd NovStadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia
Liverpool v AtalantaWeds 25th NovAnfield
Ajax v MidtjyllandWeds 25th NovAmsterdam Arena
Liverpool v AjaxTues 1st DecAnfield
Atalanta v MidtjyllandTues 1st DecStadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia
Ajax v AtalantaWeds 9th DecAmsterdam Arena
Midtjylland v LiverpoolWeds 9th DecMCH Arena

Group E

Chelsea v SevillaTues 20th OctStamford Bridge
Rennes v KrasnodarTues 20th OctRoazhon Park
Krasnodar v ChelseaWeds 28th OctKrasnodar Stadium
Sevilla v RennesWeds 28th OctRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
Sevilla v KrasnodarWeds 4th NovRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
Chelsea v RennesWeds 4th NovStamford Bridge
Krasnodar v SevillaTues 24th NovKrasnodar Stadium
Rennes v ChelseaTues 24th NovRoazhon Park
Krasnodar v RennesWeds 2nd DecKrasnodar Stadium
Sevilla v ChelseaWeds 2nd DecRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
Chelsea v KrasnodarTues 8th DecStamford Bridge
Rennes v SevillaTues 8th DecRoazhon Park

Group F

Zenit v Club BruggeTues 20th OctKrestovsky Stadium
Lazio v B DortmundTues 20th OctStadio Olmipico
B Dortmund v ZenitWeds 28th OctSignal Iduna Park
Club Brugge v LazioWeds 28th OctJan Breydel Stadium
Zenit v LazioWeds 4th NovKrestovsky Stadium
Club Brugge v B DortmundWeds 4th NovJan Breydel Stadium
Lazio v ZenitTues 24th NovStadio Olmipico
B Dortmund v Club BruggeTues 24th NovSignal Iduna Park
B Dortmund v LazioWeds 2nd DecSignal Iduna Park
Club Brugge v ZenitWeds 2nd DecJan Breydel Stadium
Zenit v B DortmundTues 8th DecKrestovsky Stadium
Lazio v Club BruggeTues 8th DecStadio Olmipico

Group G

D Kyiv v JuventusTues 20th OctNSC Olimpiyskiy
Barcelona v FerencvárosTues 20th OctCamp Nou
Juventus v BarcelonaWeds 28th OctJuventus Stadium
Ferencváros v D KyivWeds 28th OctGroupama Arena
Barcelona v D KyivWeds 4th NovCamp Nou
Ferencváros v JuventusWeds 4th NovGroupama Arena
D Kyiv v BarcelonaTues 24th NovNSC Olimpiyskiy
Juventus v FerencvárosTues 24th NovJuventus Stadium
Juventus v D KyivWeds 2nd DecJuventus Stadium
Ferencváros v BarcelonaWeds 2nd DecGroupama Arena
Barcelona v JuventusTues 8th DecCamp Nou
D Kyiv v FerencvárosTues 8th DecNSC Olimpiyskiy

Group H

PSG v Man UnitedTues 20th OctParc des Princes
RB Leipzig v I BaşakşehirTues 20th OctRed Bull Arena Leipzig
I Başakşehir v PSGWeds 28th OctBaşakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium
Man United v RB LeipzigWeds 28th OctOld Trafford
I Başakşehir v Man UnitedWeds 4th NovBaşakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium
RB Leipzig v PSGWeds 4th NovRed Bull Arena Leipzig
Man United v I BaşakşehirTues 24th NovOld Trafford
PSG v RB LeipzigTues 24th NovParc des Princes
I Başakşehir v RB LeipzigWeds 2nd DecBaşakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium
Man United v PSGWeds 2nd DecOld Trafford
PSG v I BaşakşehirTues 8th DecParc des Princes
RB Leipzig v Man UnitedTues 8th DecRed Bull Arena Leipzig

Tournament Format

Qualification Format

UEFA Champions League logo
UEFA Champions League logo - UEFA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The system of qualification for the Champions League has changed a few times over the last 25 years however since 2009 this seems to have settled into a fairly fixed format. The Champions League begins with 32 teams split into 8 groups of 4.

Automatic qualification is given to the winners and runners up from the top European football league members. This system is based on the UEFA coefficient rankings, these are calculated based on the number of games and the results of those games from club teams and the national team of that country. Teams from the first 11 rank associations receive automatic places for finishing as champions or runners up in their respective leagues, outlined in the table below.

Country1st Place2nd Place3rd Place4th PlaceTotal
Spain Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
England Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Italy Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
France Yes Yes Yes - 3
Russia Yes Yes 3rd Q Round - 3
Portugal Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Belgium Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Ukraine Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Turkey Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Netherlands Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Austria Play-Off 2nd Q Round - - 2
Czech-Republic Play-Off 2nd Q Round - - 2
Greece 3rd Q Round 2nd Q Round - - 2
Croatia 3rd Q Round 2nd Q Round - - 2

For the 2018/19 season the qualification structure was altered. Now the top four teams from the top four UEFA ranked associations have four teams that qualify directly for the group stages. The fifth ranked association has three direct qualifiers and the 6th association two direct qualifiers. The league winners of associations ranked 7th to 11th then also qualify directly, making 26 automatic qualifiers in total. An additional automatic place is given to the winner of the previous year's Champions League and the previous year's Europa League (if they haven't already qualified through their leagues).

This will be a huge cash cow for Europe's top leagues and will prevent so called big teams being dumped out before the tournament proper. Of course this ultimately all boils down to money, TV audiences in Europe would be much higher to watch say AC Milan compared with Ludogorets Razgrad. Prize money will also increase in an effort from UEFA to prevent a break away European Super League.

This will only serve to create further inequality between Europe's top leagues and clubs and the bottom, but at the end of the day it seems to be what the people who pay the money to watch actually want.

Teams that do not directly qualify can enter into two distinct qualifying streams, termed 'champions' and 'non-champions'. The preliminary and first qualifying round is made up from the league winners of countries that rank between 20th to 55th (except Lichtenstein) in the UEFA rankings.

FC Barcelona v Juventus in a champions league match
FC Barcelona v Juventus in a champions league match - Zellreder [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the second qualifying round the group splits into the champions and non-champions steam. In the champions stream the 16 winners from round two are met with the 4 league winners from countries ranked 16th to 19th. In the non-champions stream the four second placed teams from countries ranked 12th to 15th also join.

The third qualifying round see the 10 winners from round 2 champions path meet the two champions from associations ranked 14th and 15th. In the non-champions path the 2 winners from round two are joined by the five runners up from associations ranked 7-11th and one third placed team from association 6.

The final qualifying round is known as the play off. The champions stream play off is simply made up from the 6 winners from round three along with the two champions from associations ranked 12th and 13th. The non-champions play off is made up of the 4 winners from round three.

The 4 winners from both the champions and 2 winners from the non-champions play off then progress to the Champions League group stage proper, making 32 teams in total

Group Stages

Champions League Final Cardiff 2017
Champions League Final Cardiff 2017 - Markos90 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The final 32 teams are drawn into eight groups bases on their 'seeding'. Teams are segregated into 4 pots based on each teams own UEFA coefficient ranking over the previous five years. Each group of 4 is then made up of one team drawn from each pot. There is however an additional protection that ensures teams from the same country cannot meet at this stage.

Beginning in September teams play 6 matches within their groups, three home and three away ties against each other team. The points system is the standard three for a win and one for a draw. After 6 matches the winner an runner up progresses to the last 16, the third place team is parachuted into the last 32 of the Europa League and the fourth place team is eliminated entirely from European competition.

If teams are tied on points the winner is determined first by goal difference and then second by results against each other.

Knock Out Stages and Final

tournament strutureIn the last 16 the winners of groups are drawn against the runners up however the protection that prevent teams form the same country meeting remains in place. Teams play two legs, home and away, if the match is a draw after two legs the team with the most goals away from home will progress (the away goals rule). If teams are tied on away goal the match will go to extra time and if no winner is found here, then penalties. Away goals apply in extra time.

In the quarter finals and semi-finals the draw is completely random, teams play in the same format as the last 16.

The Champions League Final is held at a predefined venue selected before the start of the season. This is intended to be a neutral venue although several times in the past teams have has the fortune to play the final at their own stadium. See the table of previous winners for them all.

The final is played over 90 minutes, if the game is a draw the match will then go to penalties and eventually penalties if no winner is found after 120 minutes.

Previous Winners

The table below shows the previous winners, results and hosts of the Champions League since it was rebranded in 1992

Host CityYearWinnerStadium
Istanbul 2021 ? Atatürk Olympic Stadium
Lisbon 2020 Bayern Munich Estadio da Luz
Madrid 2019 Liverpool Wanda Metropolitano
Kiev 2018 Real Madrid NSC Olimpiyskiy
Cardiff 2017 Real Madrid Principality Stadium
Milan 2016 Real Madrid San Siro
Berlin 2015 Barcelona Olympiastadion
Lisbon 2014 Real Madrid Estadio da Luz
London 2013 B Munich Wembley
Munich 2012 Chelsea Allianz Arena
London 2011 Barcelona Wembley
Madrid 2010 Inter Milan Bernabéu
Rome 2009 Barcelona Stadio Olimpico
Moscow 2008 Man United Luzhniki Stadium
Athens 2007 AC Milan Olympic Stadium
Saint-Denis 2006 Barcelona Stade De France
Istanbul 2005 Liverpool Atatürk Olympic Stadium
Gel'kirchen 2004 Porto Arena AufSchalke
Manchester 2003 AC Milan Old Trafford
Glasgow 2002 Real Madrid Hampden Park
Milan 2001 B Munich San Siro
Saint-Denis 2000 Real Madrid Stade De France
Barcelona 1999 Man United Borussia Park
Amsterdam 1998 Real Madrid Amsterdam Arena
Munich 1997 B Dortmund Olympiastadion
Rome 1996 Juventus Stadio Olimpico
Vienna 1995 Ajax Ernst-Happel-Stadion
Athens 1994 AC Milan Olympic Stadium
Munich 1993 Marseille Olympiastadion

All-Time Winners

Real Madrid 13 2016-18, 2014, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1966, 1956-1960
AC Milan 7 2007, 2003, 1994, 1990, 1989, 1969, 1963
Liverpool 6 2019, 2005, 1984, 1981, 1977, 1978
B Munich 6 2020, 2013, 2001, 1974-1976
Barcelona 5 2015, 2011, 2009, 2006, 1992
Ajax 4 1995, 1973, 1972, 1971
Inter Milan 3 2010, 1965, 1964
Man United 3 2008, 1999, 1968
Juventus 2 1996, 1985
Benfica 2 1962, 1961
Notts Forest 2 1980, 1979
Porto 2 2004, 1987
Celtic 1 1967
Hamburg 1 1983
S Bucharest 1 1986
Marseille 1 1993
B Dortmund 1 1997
Chelsea 1 2012
Feyenord 1 1970
Aston Villa 1 1982
PSV Eindhoven 1 1988
Red Star Belgrade 1 1991

British Club Performance

ClubCupsRunners UpPlayedWins
Liverpool 6 3 217 123
Man United 3 2 279 154
Notts Forest 2 5 20 12
Chelsea 1 1 168 83
Aston Villa 1 0 15 9
Leeds United 0 1 39 21
Arsenal 0 1 199 101
Man City 0 0 81 39
Tottenham 0 1 55 25

Champions League Stats

Tournament Stats
First Year1955 - 1956 Season
Titles (Nation)Spain (18)
Titles (City)Madrid (13)
Highest Attendance127,621 (Hampden Park 1960)
Prize Money Winner€19,000,000 (2020)
Group Stage Base Fee€15,250,000 (2020)
Qualifying Teams78/79
Final Teams32
Club Stats
TitlesReal Madrid - 13
Runner UpJuventus - 7
AppearancesReal Madrid - 51
Games PlayedReal Madrid - 439
Games WonReal Madrid - 262
Goals ScoredReal Madrid - 973
Goals ConcededReal Madrid - 480
Biggest WinD Bucharest 11 - 0 Crusaders (1974)
Manager Titles3 - Multiple - Bob Paisley (Liverpool) First
Least Wins for TitleMan United - 5 (1999)
Consecutive TournamentsReal Madrid - 23
Consecutive TitlesReal Madrid - 5 (1956-60)
Consecutive Clean SheetsArsenal - 10 (2006)
Player Stats
TitlesFrancisco Gento - 6 (Real Madrid 1956-60 & 1966)
AppearancesIker Casillas - 177 (Real Madrid & Porto)
GoalsChristiano Ronalso - 130 (Real Madrid, Man Utd & Juventus)
Goals Single SeasonChristiano Ronaldo - 17 (Real Madrid 2013-14)
Golden BootLionel Messi - 5 (Barcelona)
Fastest Goal10.2 Seconds (Roy Makaay 2007)

About the Champions League

The Beginnings

European Cup Trophy
European Cup Trophy - David Flores [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In a similar story to the European Championships the creation of a Europe wide club football competition was delayed until the mid 1950's primarily due to political tensions on the continent.

A few precursors existed prior to the second world war. In 1897 an international competition was formed for clubs in the Austro-Hungarian empire known as the Challenge Cup. This knock-out tournament was played between teams that mainly hailed from Prague, Vienna and Budapest and continued until 1911.

In 1927 a tournament modelled on the Challenge Cup called the Mitropa Cup began and continued until after WWII. This was intended to assist central European nations in setting up their own professional leagues.

In 1930 Swiss club Servette made an attempt to create a European club championship. They invited 10 major European teams to compete with the trophy won by Hungarian club Ujpest. Unfortunately, in spite of its success, the competition was never repeated.

Following the war a small Latin Cup was created as a knock-out tournament between Portugal, Italy, France and Spain but never expanded

It was the French publication L'Equipe that played a massive role in creating the European Cup just as they had played a similarly important role in the creation of the European Championship. Journalists Jacques Ferran and Gabriel Hanot are documented as the first to put proposals forward after being inspired by a visit to the South American Championship of Champions.

The European Champion of Clubs' Cup was finally conceived in Paris and began in 1955.

1955 – 1960 European Champions Cup

Real Madrid Early European Cup History
Real Madrid Early European Cup History - Ian Dick from Glasgow, UK [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In its first season 16 teams participated from around Europe. Scottish team Hibernian entered but the English FA's secretary Alan Hardaker denied the then English champions Chelsea from entering citing it was against the interest of English club football.

The first ever match took place between Sporting CP and Partizan and ended as a 3-3 draw, the first ever goal being scored by Sporting's Baptista Martins.

The first ever championship was won by Real Madrid who came from behind to win 4-3 in the final at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

for the following 1956-57 season English Champions Manchester United decided to defy the governing body and enter the European Champions Cup. It was however Real Madrid that successfully defended the trophy beating Fiorentina at their home stadium, the Bernabeu. Real Madrid continued to dominate the tournament until winning it on 5 consecutive occasions until 1960.

Munich Air Disaster

memorial stone in remembrance of the Munich air disaster
memorial stone in remembrance of the Munich air disaster - Flo Sorg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Manchester United entered the European Cup again after winning the English league in 1957. Having just advanced to the semi-final after beating Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia the Manchester United plane stopped in Munich for refuelling. On a day of bad weather the British Airways plane crashed on a third attempt at take-off killing 23 out of 44 people on the plane including the main body of Manchester United's Busby Babes along with journalists and other staff.

Still recognised as one of the worst ever footballing disasters it took over 10 years for Manchester United to reach a similar level again, eventually rebuilding to win the European Cup in 1968.

1961 - 1969

1961–62 European Cup - Juventus v Real Madrid
1961–62 European Cup - Juventus v Real Madrid - See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Real Madrid's dominance came to an end when they were knocked out of the 1961 competition by their bitter rivals Barcelona in the quarter finals. Benfica then began their own short dominance by beating Barcelona in the 1961 final 3-2 before beating Real Madrid themselves 5-3 in the 1962 final.

The baton was passed on again as AC Milan beat Benfica in the 1963 final before rivals Inter Milan won the trophy in 1964 and 1965 in an era of dominance for the city that holds the current record of 6 European Cup wins between the two Milanese teams.

Real Madrid returned win in 1966, beating FK Partisan at Heysel Stadium in Brussels. This was the last time real would win the trophy again for over three decades.

1967 and 1968 saw British teams come to the fore at last. Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 beating Inter Milan 2-1 in the final held in Lisbon. Matt Busby's Manchester United won the cup the following year ten years after the devastating Munich disaster beating Benfica 4-1 after extra time at Wembley.

It was another victory for AC Milan that saw the decade out with a win over the emerging Dutch champions Ajax.

1970 - 1984

Feyenoord v Celtic 1970 European Cup Final
Feyenoord v Celtic 1970 European Cup Final - Eric Koch / Anefo [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

It was the Dutch and Germans that dominated the early 1970's. Feyenoord beat Celtic in the 1970 final to prevent the Scottish club winning the cup for a second time. This was followed by three wins on the trot for the team branded 'total football' containing the Johan Cruyff as Ajax won in 1971, 1972 and 1973. It was Germany's turn next as Bayern Munich won three on the bounce in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

England's most successful club in Europe, Liverpool, were next to claim the crown as Bob Paisley, who holds the managerial record of 3 European Cup wins, drove his team to claim the crown Liverpool beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in Rome to bring the title home in 1977.

This started a period of 8 years of dominance from English teams as Liverpool were again champions the following year in 1978 beating Club Bruge 1-0 at Wembley. Nottingham Forrest became the only club in history to win the European Cup on more occasions than their domestic league as the won the competition in 1979, beating Malmo 1-0 in Munich, and 1980, beating Hamburg at the Bernabeu. This was followed by Liverpool again who won the cup for a third time in 1981, defeating Real Madrid 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, before Aston Villa won the European Cup for the first and only time in 1982 by beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam.

After a blip that saw Hamburg claim the crown in 1983 against Juventus it was again Liverpool's turn. Joe Fagan, in his only year in charge, completed a cup treble for Liverpool by beating Roma 1-0 at their home stadium in Rome to win the cup for the 4th time.

Heysel Stadium Disaster 1985

Heysel Disaster
By fr:Utilisateur:Heynoun ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1985 Liverpool were aiming to win the European Cup again for the 5th time as they took on Juventus in the final at Brussels Heysel Stadium. Liverpool were beaten 1-0 in a result overshadowed by the death of 39 and injury of 600 mainly Juventus fans. Disruption in the Liverpool end an hour prior to kick off led to the collapse of a concrete retaining wall onto the Italian fans. The match continued, something that would never happen in the modern day and Liverpool lost.

As a consequence of Heysel, combined with an already tense situation of hooliganism in English football, all English clubs were banned from Europe for 5 years, Liverpool for 8, later reduced to 6.

English clubs therefore did not renter the competition until 1990.

Read more about the Heysel stadium disaster.

1985 – 1992

With the dominant English clubs banned from the competition the European Cup was won by 6 different clubs over the next seven years.

Steaua Bucharest win in 1986 followed by Porto in 1987, PSV Eindhoven in 1988, AC Milan back to back in 1989 and 1990, Red Star Belgrade won in 1991 before Barcelona won the trophy for the first time in 1992. This was the last time the competition was titled the European Cup

Champions League 1993 – 1999

UEFA Champions League Logo
UEFA Champions League Logo - UEFA Champions League [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In one of the most successful rebranding's ever the European Cup was changed to the UEFA Champions League. The new competition came with enhanced marketing and TV rights that rapidly made the competition the richest club competition in the world. The first Champions League was won by Marseille, becoming the first, and only, French team to win the title, beating AC Milan in the final in Munich. Marseille were embroiled in controversy in the same year as it emerged their chairman, Bernard Tapie, has been involve in match fixing. This lead to Marseille being stripped of their Ligue 1 but not Champions League title. Marseille were then banned from defending their Champions League title in 1994.

The early years of the Champions League carried on where the European Cup left off seeing a variety of winners before the end of the century. AC Milan shocked a lauded Barcelona team in 1994 winning 4-0 in Athens in what is cited as one of the best ever European finals. Milan reached the final the following year only to be beaten by Ajax 1-0 in Austria in 1995. 1996 saw Juventus win the trophy for the second time beating holders Ajax 4-2 on penalties. Borussia Dortmund claimed their first Champions league title in 1997 against holders Juventus in Munich.

Real Madrid finally returned to the top winning the Champions League 1998 after a gap of 32 years beating Juventus 1-0. 1998 was also the first year in which second placed clubs from Europe's top leagues were allowed entry.

Manchester United won the European Cup for the second time in 1999 becoming the first club to win the tournament having not been champions of their own league, finishing runners up to Arsenal in 1997-98. United won 2-1 in a thrilling final that shocked dominant Bayern Munich, Bayern winning 1-0 were knocked as Man U scored two injury time goals stole the title from under them. Manchester United still hold the record for winning the trophy with the least number of wins in this season, five.

New Millennium 2000 – 2004

Old Trafford 2003 UEFA Champions League Final
Old Trafford 2003 UEFA Champions League Final - manc72 (Matthew Wilkinson) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Real began a new era of dominance winning at the same time UEFA Champions League qualification was further relaxed now allowing 3rd and even 4th placed teams to enter from UEFAs top ranked domestic leagues. Real won in 2000 and 2002 with Bayern Munich winning in 2001.

An all Italian final in 2003 saw Milan prevail for their 6th title beating Juventus 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Porto claimed their second title a year later in 2004 defeating Monaco 3-0 in France.

One Night In Istanbul

Liverpool 2005 Champions League parade
Liverpool 2005 Champions League parade - Jprw [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2005 Liverpool won their British record 5th European Cup and first trophy since it was rebranded the Champions League. The final in which Liverpool beat AC Milan 3-2 on penalties following a 3-3 draw is widely regarded as the most entertaining final yet.

Liverpool 3-0 down at half time looked humiliated and in damage limitation mode only for a miraculous second half comeback in which Liverpool drew level in just 7 minutes of football. Liverpool won on penalties largely thanks to the antics of their keeper, Jerzy Dudek.

2006 - 2015

Barcelona Four Champions League Trophies
Barcelona Four Champions League Trophies - hakolal [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In recent years the European Cup has been shared between Europe's four biggest nations, Spain, England, Italy and Germany.

From Spain Barcelona emerged as the most dominant team in the competition since Real Madrid in the 1950's winning the 2006 final 2-1 against Arsenal, in 2009 they won 2-0 and in 2011 3-1 both Vs Manchester United. Barcelona capped 4 wins in 9 years with a 3-1 win over Juventus in 2015 in Berlin.

Despite Barcelona's dominance perhaps the most notable event was Real Madrid winning 'La Decima', their 10th European Cup in 2014 betting local rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 Lisbon. They will surely remain the only club to achieve double digits for a long time to come.

Following Liverpool's success in 2005 it was Manchester United turn to win their 3rd Cup beating Chelsea in a dramatic 6-5 penalty shoot-out after a rather drab 1-1 draw. Chelsea won the cup for the first time on their second final appearance in 2011, this time winning on penalties 4-3 over Bayern Munich in their home stadium.

Bayern Munich prevented domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund winning their second title in 2013 beating them 2-1 at Wembley for the only title to go to Germany over the last ten years.

The remaining two cups both went to Milan. AC Milan won their 7th competition getting revenge on Liverpool in the process beating then 2-1 in Athens in 2007. Inter Milan became the last Italian team to win in 2009 beating Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Bernabeu.

2016 -

Real Madrid Winner Of The Champions League in 2018
Real Madrid Winner Of The Champions League in 2018 - Антон Зайцев [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The 2016 final saw even more heart break for Atletico Madrid who were beaten by local rivals Real Madrid on penalties, almost a remake of the 2014 final. The following year in 2017 Real Madrid won a consecutive title beating Juventus comfortable 4-1, Ronaldo staring again. Real won again in 2018, making it three in a row, beating Liverpool thanks to a Gareth Bale wonder goal and some terrible errors by the Liverpool goal keeper.

With 13 titles now in the bag it would take decades potentially for any other club to catch Real Madrid, that is providing they don't now start a whole new Champions League dynasty.

Liverpool might be one team with something to say about that. The most successful English club in Europe added their sixth title in 2019 beating tottenham in an all English Final. The game itself was poor, Liverpool winning 2-0 on the night in Madrid, but it was the build up that marked the 2018-19 campaign, that saw more comebacks than any other previous Champions League.

2020 was a special year due to the shutdown caused by corona virus. This meant the entire knockout phase was played with no spectators over a two week period at Benfica's Estadio da Luz and Sporting Lisbon's Esadio Jose Alvalde Stadiums. Bayern Munich won the final 1-0 against PSG in Lisbon in what was called the battle between old money and new money. All games were played over one-leg and this format was very much enjoyed by fans, which suggests UEFA could change things in the future given the sucess of the hastily re-arranged tournament.

Will British clubs begin a new era of European domination, will it return yet again to Spain this year, or will it be the turn of another team, whatever happens you know it will be exciting.