When it comes to club football, the UEFA Champions League, which replaced the European Cup, is the No. 1 annual competition in Europe.
Among the more talked-about and respected tournaments in the world, its quality is of sheer excellence, and from its first year in 2002, only Real Madrid have won it in consecutive years. In fact, in 2018, they won it for the third year in a row.
The competition’s finale attracts a larger audience than the World Cup Final or the Olympics and is generally regarded as the highlight on the football calendar.
The history of the Champions League
In the old days, entry to the European Cup was restricted to those who ranked first in their respective European leagues. The teams also played knockout football from the opening whistle.
However, it was in the 1990’s when UEFA decided to adopt a new strategy to raise the quality of the competition. As a result, in 1992, the more reputable leagues were allowed to enter up to four of its teams in what would be known as the Champions League.
Since 1955, we have been treated to a major European club competition. That year saw 16 teams battling it out. Real Madrid was the most successful club even in those days. Los Blancos won five tournaments in a row from 1956 to 1960.
However, the competition entered a new realm when it was renamed the Champions League, with television money and sponsorship now worth billions.