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 format is due to change for 2024-25 and increase to 36 teams with the group stage replaced by a league phase with an additional two match weeks and a play-off round.

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. The final for 2021 was due to be held in Istanbul instead, but with two British teams making it to the final and Turkey on the UK government red list for travel, UEFA announced that the Estádio do Dragão in Porto, Portugal, would be used instead.

The 2022 final was due to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, however, UEFA moved the final to the Stade de France in Paris on 25th February owing to Russia's invasion of Ukraine making the original venue untenable. The Atatürk stadium hosted the final again in 2023 with Wembley due to host in 2024 and the Allianz Arena in 2025.

The winner can expect to receive €20 million on top of the millions in fees for reaching the group stages and later stages. At the most teams can earn over €85 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
Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Stadium
2011 52,650 41,076 52,044 Galatasaray v Real Madrid (09/04/2013)
Allianz Arena
Bayern Munich
2005 75,000 71,000 75,000 B Munich v Schalke 04 (2015)
Anoeta Stadium
Real Sociedad
1993 39,313 21,946 32,052 Biarritz v Toulouse (Rugby) 2011
Camp Nou
FC Barcelona
1957 99,354 76,704 120,000 Barcelona v Juventus (1986)
Celtic Park
1892 60,411 57,587 83,500 Celtic v Rangers (1938)
De Kuip
1937 51,177 47,500 65,427 Feyenoord v Twente (1968)
Estadio da Luz
2003 64,642 38,250 65,400 Benfica v Nacional (2003)
Estádio do Dragão
FC Porto
2003 50,035 31,653 52,000 Porto v Barcelona (2003)
NSC Olimpiyskiy
Dynamo Kyiv & Shaktar Donesk
1923 70,050 28,931 100,062 Dynamo Kiev v Utrecht 1985
Old Trafford
Manchester United FC
1910 74,310 73,815 76,962 Wolves vs Grimsby Town (1939)
Parc des Princes
Paris Saint-Germain
1972 47,929 46,930 49,575 PSG v Waterschei (1983)
Parken Stadium
FC Copenhagen / Denmark
1992 38,065 14,523 42,083 Denmark v Sweden (2007)
Philips Stadion
PSV Eindhoven
1910 35,000 33,135 35,000 PSV v Man United (2015)
Rajko Mitić Stadium
Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda) & Serbia National Team
1963 53,000 13,566 110,000 Red Star v Ferencváros (23/04/1975)
Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
1958 43,883 34,191
Red Bull Arena (Leipzig)
RB Leipzig
2004 47,069 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)
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 81,365 80,520 83,000 Dortmund v Schalke 2004
St James' Park
Newcastle United FC
1892 52,305 52,127 68,386 Newcastle v Chelsea (1930)
Stade Bollaert-Delelis
RC Lens
1933 38,058 28,996 48,912 Lens v Marseille (1992)
Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
S.S.C. Napoli
1959 54,726 38,760 112,365 SSC Napoli v AC Perugia (1979)
Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma / SS Lazio
1937 72,698 21,274 100,000 Italy v Hungary (1953)
The Emirates
Arsenal FC
2006 60,704 60,191 60,383 Arsenal v Wolves (November 2019)
The Etihad
Manchester City FC
2003 53,400 53,249 54,693 Manchester City v Leicester City (2016)
Wanda Metropolitano
Atletico Madrid
2017 68,457 54,379 66,591 Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid (2017)
2007 90,000 85,000 89,874 Portsmouth v Cardiff City (2008)


FixtureDate & TimeStadium
?v?Sat 1st JuneWembley

Group Stages

Group A

Galatasaray v CopenhagenWeds 20th SepAli Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Stadium
B Munich v Man UnitedWeds 20th SepAllianz Arena
Man United v GalatasarayTues 3rd OctOld Trafford
Copenhagen v B MunichTues 3rd OctParken Stadium
Galatasaray v B MunichTues 24th OctAli Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Stadium
Man United v CopenhagenTues 24th OctOld Trafford
B Munich v GalatasarayWeds 8th NovAllianz Arena
Copenhagen v Man UnitedWeds 8th NovParken Stadium
Galatasaray v Man UnitedWeds 29th NovAli Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Stadium
B Munich v CopenhagenWeds 29th NovAllianz Arena
Man United v B MunichTues 12th DecOld Trafford
Copenhagen v GalatasarayTues 12th DecParken Stadium

Group B

Sevilla v RC LensWeds 20th SepRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
Arsenal v PSVWeds 20th SepThe Emirates
RC Lens v ArsenalTues 3rd OctStade Bollaert-Delelis
PSV v SevillaTues 3rd OctPhilips Stadion
Sevilla v ArsenalTues 24th OctRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
RC Lens v PSVTues 24th OctStade Bollaert-Delelis
Arsenal v SevillaWeds 8th NovThe Emirates
PSV v RC LensWeds 8th NovPhilips Stadion
Sevilla v PSVWeds 29th NovRamón Sánchez Pizjuán
Arsenal v RC LensWeds 29th NovThe Emirates
RC Lens v SevillaTues 12th DecStade Bollaert-Delelis
PSV v ArsenalTues 12th DecPhilips Stadion

Group C

Real Madrid v Union BerlinWeds 20th SepSantiago Bernabéu
Braga v NapoliWeds 20th SepEstádio Municipal de Braga
Union Berlin v BragaTues 3rd OctStadion An der Alten Försterei
Napoli v Real MadridTues 3rd OctStadio San Paolo
Braga v Real MadridTues 24th OctEstádio Municipal de Braga
Union Berlin v NapoliTues 24th OctStadion An der Alten Försterei
Napoli v Union BerlinWeds 8th NovStadio San Paolo
Real Madrid v BragaWeds 8th NovSantiago Bernabéu
Real Madrid v NapoliWeds 29th NovSantiago Bernabéu
Braga v Union BerlinWeds 29th NovEstádio Municipal de Braga
Napoli v BragaTues 12th DecStadio San Paolo
Union Berlin v Real MadridTues 12th DecStadion An der Alten Försterei

Group D

R Sociedad v Inter MilanWeds 20th SepAnoeta Stadium
Benfica v RB SalzburgWeds 20th SepEstadio da Luz
RB Salzburg v R SociedadTues 3rd OctRed Bull Arena
Inter Milan v BenficaTues 3rd OctSan Siro
Inter Milan v RB SalzburgTues 24th OctSan Siro
Benfica v R SociedadTues 24th OctEstadio da Luz
R Sociedad v BenficaWeds 8th NovAnoeta Stadium
RB Salzburg v Inter MilanWeds 8th NovRed Bull Arena
Benfica v Inter MilanWeds 29th NovEstadio da Luz
R Sociedad v RB SalzburgWeds 29th NovAnoeta Stadium
Inter Milan v R SociedadTues 12th DecSan Siro
RB Salzburg v BenficaTues 12th DecRed Bull Arena

Group E

Feyenoord v CelticTues 19th SepDe Kuip
Lazio v Atl MadridTues 19th SepStadio Olmipico
Atl Madrid v FeyenoordWeds 4th OctWanda Metropolitano
Celtic v LazioWeds 4th OctCeltic Park
Feyenoord v LazioWeds 25th OctDe Kuip
Celtic v Atl MadridWeds 25th OctCeltic Park
Atl Madrid v CelticTues 7th NovWanda Metropolitano
Lazio v FeyenoordTues 7th NovStadio Olmipico
Lazio v CelticTues 28th NovStadio Olmipico
Feyenoord v Atl MadridTues 28th NovDe Kuip
Atl Madrid v LazioWeds 13th DecWanda Metropolitano
Celtic v FeyenoordWeds 13th DecCeltic Park

Group F

AC Milan v NewcastleTues 19th SepSan Siro
PSG v B DortmundTues 19th SepParc des Princes
B Dortmund v AC MilanWeds 4th OctSignal Iduna Park
Newcastle v PSGWeds 4th OctSt James' Park
PSG v AC MilanWeds 25th OctParc des Princes
Newcastle v B DortmundWeds 25th OctSt James' Park
B Dortmund v NewcastleTues 7th NovSignal Iduna Park
AC Milan v PSGTues 7th NovSan Siro
PSG v NewcastleTues 28th NovParc des Princes
AC Milan v B DortmundTues 28th NovSan Siro
B Dortmund v PSGWeds 13th DecSignal Iduna Park
Newcastle v AC MilanWeds 13th DecSt James' Park

Group G

Young Boys v RB LeipzigTues 19th SepWankdorf Stadium
Man City v Red StarTues 19th SepThe Etihad
RB Leipzig v Man CityWeds 4th OctRed Bull Arena
Red Star v Young BoysWeds 4th OctRajko Mitić Stadium
RB Leipzig v Red StarWeds 25th OctRed Bull Arena
Young Boys v Man CityWeds 25th OctWankdorf Stadium
Man City v Young BoysTues 7th NovThe Etihad
Red Star v RB LeipzigTues 7th NovRajko Mitić Stadium
Man City v RB LeipzigTues 28th NovThe Etihad
Young Boys v Red StarTues 28th NovWankdorf Stadium
RB Leipzig v Young BoysWeds 13th DecRed Bull Arena
Red Star v Man CityWeds 13th DecRajko Mitić Stadium

Group H

Barcelona v AntwerpTues 19th SepEstadi Olímpic Lluís Companys
S Donesk v PortoTues 19th SepVolksparkstadion
Antwerp v S DoneskWeds 4th OctBosuilstadion
Porto v BarcelonaWeds 4th OctEstádio do Dragão
Barcelona v S DoneskWeds 25th OctEstadi Olímpic Lluís Companys
Antwerp v PortoWeds 25th OctBosuilstadion
S Donesk v BarcelonaTues 7th NovVolksparkstadion
Porto v AntwerpTues 7th NovEstádio do Dragão
S Donesk v AntwerpTues 28th NovVolksparkstadion
Barcelona v PortoTues 28th NovEstadi Olímpic Lluís Companys
Porto v S DoneskWeds 13th DecEstádio do Dragão
Antwerp v BarcelonaWeds 13th DecBosuilstadion

Note Barcelona will play at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys for the 2023-24 Champions League season due to refurbishment of the Nou Camp. Shaktar Donesk will play their home games at the Volksparkstadion in Hambury, Germany, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

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 years however since 2009 it seemed to have settled into a fairly fixed format. It is however due to change for the 2024-2025 season (see later) but for now 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 ranked 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
England Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Spain Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Italy Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes 4
France Yes Yes Yes - 3
Portugal Yes Yes 3rd Q Round - 3
Netherlands Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Austria Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Scotland Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Russia No# No# - - 0#
Serbia Yes 3rd Q Round - - 2
Ukraine Yes 2nd Q Round - - 2
Belgium Yes 2nd Q Round - - 2
Switzerland Play Off 2nd Q Round - - 2
Greece 3rd Q Round 2nd Q Round - - 2

#Russia will not compete in the next tournament due to their suspension from UEFA in light of the war in Ukraine.

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 (except Russia) 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 game will progress to extra time and then penalties if required.

UEFA abolished the away goals rule for the 2021-2022 season. The rule had been in place since 1965 and meant that the team with the most goals away from home would progress in the event of a tie. Only if teams were tied on away goals would the match go to extra time and then penalties, away goals would apply in extra time too. The rule was initially brought in to promote away teams to attack but over time, as home advantage became less obvious, it began to have an opposing effect, resulting in home teams attacking less to prevent the away team scoring. The rule was also particularly unfair in extra-time, if the away team scored first the home team would then have to score twice.

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.

New League Phase And 36 Teams From 2024-2025

 uefa champions league banner in front of stand

With UEFA never wanting to leave anything alone and always on a quest for expansion at the expense of quality they have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to increase the number of teams from 32 to 36 from the 2024-25 season onwards.

The group stage will be done away with and replaced by a league phase featuring all 36 teams. Each team will now play eight league games, two more than before but two less than the original 10 proposed, this will involve four home and four away games but crucially all against different opponents.

Teams get 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw and the teams in the top eight spots go straight into the knockout phase last 16. The knockout phase itself will remains unchanged. The remaining eight places are decided by a play-off between teams ranked 9th to 24th in the league with ninth to sixteenth placed teams seeded.

This adds at least two matches for each team involved along with a potential further two matches if they make the two-legged play-offs. We are told this is so teams in the league phase have more to play for, for longer, compared to the previous group stage model. In reality the addition of two match weeks and an entire 16 fixture play-off round is the real reason as it gives more power to commercial TV rights and sponsorship deals.

The first 32 teams will qualify for the league phase in the same way they did before. The remaining four places are allocated as follows; to the team that finishes 3rd in the country ranked 5th in the UEFA rankings, an additional place for the Champions Path (making 4 total) and two places awarded to the countries that performed best in UEFA competitions the previous year.

Plans to give those two last places to teams with the highest UEFA coefficient who did not qualify were dropped after protests it would only protect the already big teams.

Previous Winners

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

Host CityYearWinnerStadium
London 2024 ? Wembley
Istanbul 2023 Man City Atatürk Olympic Stadium
Paris 2022 Real Madrid Stade de France
Porto 2021 Chelsea Estádio do Dragão
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 14 2022, 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
Chelsea 2 2012, 2021
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
Man City 1 2023

British Club Performance

ClubCupsRunners UpPlayedWins
Liverpool 6 4 248 144
Man United 3 2 293 160
Notts Forest 2 5 20 12
Chelsea 2 1 201 104
Man City 1 1 119 66
Aston Villa 1 0 15 9
Leeds United 0 1 39 21
Arsenal 0 1 201 101
Tottenham 0 1 63 28

Champions League Stats

Tournament Stats
First Year1955 - 1956 Season
Titles (Nation)Spain (19)
Titles (City)Madrid (14)
Highest Attendance127,621 (Hampden Park 1960)
Prize Money Winner€20,000,000 (2023)
Group Stage Base Fee€15,640,000 (2023)
Qualifying Teams78/79
Final Teams32
Club Stats
TitlesReal Madrid - 14
Runner UpJuventus - 7
AppearancesReal Madrid - 54
Games PlayedReal Madrid - 476
Games WonReal Madrid - 285
Goals ScoredReal Madrid - 1,047
Goals ConcededReal Madrid - 521
Biggest WinD Bucharest 11 - 0 Crusaders (1974)
Manager Titles4 - Carlo Ancelotti (2003 & 2007 Inter Milan, 2014 & 2022 Real Madrid)
Least Wins for TitleMan United - 5 (1999)
Consecutive TournamentsReal Madrid - 27
Consecutive TitlesReal Madrid - 5 (1956-60)
Consecutive Clean SheetsArsenal - 10 (2006)
Player Stats
TitlesFrancisco Gento - 6 (Real Madrid 1956-60 & 1966)
AppearancesChristiano Ronaldo - 183 (Real Madrid, Man Utd & Juventus)
GoalsChristiano Ronaldo - 140 (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.

English clubs continued to show their status in the modern game with Man City and Chelsea reaching the 2021 final, a season also disrupted by corona virus and mostly played behind closed doors. City were heavy favourites with Pep Guardiola seeking his first CL title for the club, but it was Chelsea who won the day 1-0 as the occasion overawed Man City.

The 2021 final should have been played at Istanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium but this was changed to Porto's Estádio do Dragão due to travel restrictions in place at the time. Really the final should have been held at Wembley given both clubs were English and travel was not encouraged at the time. In typical UEFA fashion, though, they decided not to go for Wembley simply because the UK government would not waive restrictions for sponsors and dignitaries. Demonstrating once and for all the UEFA don't care about fans, let alone the climate costs involved.

In 2022 everything returned to normal, not just in terms of crowds coming back but by the fact Real Madrid won it again in a repeat of the 2018 final beating Liverpool 1-0. Real were not the best team in the competition but found a way to win as they always do with amazing comebacks along the way against PSG, Chelsea and Man City. The final was held at the Stade de France in Paris after Russia's Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg was stripped of hosting duties thanks to their invasion of Ukraine.

Man City finally got their own European Cup in 2023 beating Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul, allowing them to cement their claim to being one of the best teams of modern times. It wasn't the same spectacle as the stadium saw in 2005 but as it was their first European Cup win no City fan will really care that it was a boring game. It seems likely that it won't be their last Champions League win now.

Will British clubs continue 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.