UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is Europe’s most prestigious club competition played among the continent’s elite clubs. Clubs who have won this tournament put their names in the history pages. The competition was founded in 1955 and has had 22 different winners so far. The tournament’s most successful team is Real Madrid which has won the tournament 10 times, followed closely by Italy’s AC Milan which has 7 wins to its name.
In 1992 the “European Cup” changed its format to become the “Champions League”. Each year the competition features 32 qualified teams from across Europe, including the winners of Europe’s ‘big 5’ leagues (Spanish, Italian, English, German and Portuguese- which competes closely with the French league). Every year the tournament’s final is hosted in a different European City. No team in the Champions League era has successfully defended the trophy. Three wins in a row or five wins of the trophy along the years entitle the winning club to hold the trophy permanently. Only five clubs belong in this exclusive list: Real Madrid, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool FC.
Collectively, Spanish clubs have won the tournament 14 times, while Italian and English Clubs have collectively won it on 12 occasions.
Current title holder is Real Madrid, which beat its city rival, Atletico de Madrid, 4-1 in extra time, making it one of the most remarkable finals of recent times. The tournament’s all time top scorer was until recently Real Madrid’s legendary Raul with 71 goals. During the 2014-15 season both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have passed Raul to hold the top 2 places. Other football legends such as Thierry Henry, Alfredo Di Stefano and Eusebio are also featured in the top 10 scorers. Francisco Gento has won the title a record six times, all with Real Madrid
Manchester United’s veteran Ryan Giggs has the most Champions League appearances, having played in the competition 151 times since 1993. Xavi and Raul make up the rest of the top 3 with 147 and 144 appearances accordingly
Real Madrid’s 1958 8-0 win over Sevilla and Liverpool’s 8-0 win against Besiktas in 2007 is the highest winning margin in the tournament’s history.
Some of the most memorable finals include Benfica’s 1962 5-3 victory over Real Madrid in Amsterdam, Celtic’s 1967 2-1 win over Inter Milan in Lisbon, Manchester United’s win over Bayern Munich in 1999 with an imaginary turnover in the very last minutes of the game, and more recently Liverpool’s dramatic win over AC Milan in 2005. Down 0:3 at half time, Liverpool went on to score 3 goals in 2nd half in Istanbul and eventually won the final in a penalty shootout.
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