The Champions League Final: The Most Popular Match from the Most Popular Sport

Die Champions League ist eines der größten Sportevents weltweit (Quelle: Bigstock-ID-72809269-by-grapix)

The UEFA Champions League is one of the biggest sporting events in the sporting calendar all over Europe. The Champions League takes the best football teams from all over Europe and has them compete head-to-head in organized matches outside of the club’s domestic league. The whole process starts in late summer, with teams from smaller countries having to qualify for the “Group Stage” of the competition. The Group Stage is when 32 teams playing in eight groups play six matches, home and away to the other clubs in the group, to determine the final 16 teams. Once those 16 clubs are determined, they play in two-legged knockout rounds until the final two football clubs are scheduled to play a final game in a pre-selected site.

European Champions Cup to Champions League

The European Champions Cup predated the Champions League, which had been a knockout competition open to only the winners of the domestic leagues from the previous league. UEFA changed the format of the competition for the 1992-93 season to expand the competition into having a group stage, and after 1997-98, to increase the number of teams from the bigger leagues to include teams who were not champions. This resulted in the increase in the number of games and television revenue that stemmed from the increased number of matches. The inclusion of teams from the more popular leagues that had not won their domestic league the previous season also resulted in a much larger, and lucrative, competition. UEFA generates a lot of income from the event, and the clubs that take part in the competition get a large amount of income from participating. In leagues such as England, it is extremely important for the bigger teams to finish in the Champions League qualification spots. The amount of money that the teams earn from even qualifying, much less winning, the competition is vital for the teams for their continued dominance in their leagues. For example, Tottenham Hotspur in England was unable to keep their best players at the team after failing to qualify for the Champions League. Two of their best players, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, went on to win last year’s competition with Real Madrid instead.

The Final-Game

As one of the primer sporting events on the calendar, the Champions League final does not disappoint for drama. The final occurs in late May. The clubs that appear in the final have often been through both a grueling league season and a long European campaign that has lasted since September. The clubs that make the final have dealt with injuries, controversy, and the stress that goes with the highest levels of club football. The Champions League has been dominated over the past thirty years by teams from the following countries:

  • Spain
  • England
  • Germany 
  • Italy

The last time a team has won the competition from outside one of those four countries was in 2004 when Porto, from Portugal, won the event. The only other times that any clubs outside the top four leagues have won the European Cup occurred in the first few years of the competition, with Ajax, from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, winning in 1995 and Olympique de Marseille, from France, winning the first title in the Champions League era in 1993.

Real Madrid Rules the Competition

Real Madrid has won the European Cup a record 10 times, with Italian powerhouse AC Milan in second place, having won seven titles. In recent years, the final has been contested five times by teams from the same league, with Real Madrid having done it twice, beating both Atletico Madrid and Valencia in 2014 and 2000 respectively. The increase in the number of teams from more popular leagues has seemed to make it harder for teams from smaller leagues to make the finals. It has also made it very difficult for teams to repeat as champions, with the last team to defend its title coming in 1990 when AC Milan beat Portugal’s Benfica. Bayern Munich has recently been to two finals in a row, losing to Chelsea in 2012 and beating fellow German team Borussia Dortmund in 2013, and Manchester United failed to defend its title in 2009, losing to Barcelona. Spanish teams have won the European Cup 14 times, more than any other league. Real Madrid has actually won the Cup more times than most leagues. Teams from Italy and England have won the Cup 12 times each, and no other league has won it more than seven times.

One of the Most Popular Sporting Events in the World

The Champions League Final match is usually one of the most watched sporting events in the world. The only other annual sporting event that comes close to the viewership that the final usually achieves is the NFL’s Super Bowl. The World Cup final, the Olympics, and the final of the UEFA’s every four-year championship are the only other sporting events achieve more popularity throughout the world. The Champions League final is usually considered the highest honor in all of club football because of the dominance of European clubs. The South American championship, the Copa Libertadores, is considered the second most important club trophy in the football world. Football is the most popular sport in the world, and since the European Champions League is seen as the most competitive and most impressive trophy for any club to win, fans from all over the world tune in to see the best players play in the biggest stage possible. Short of playing for your country in the World Cup, playing in a Champions League final is the biggest highlight of any player’s career. Legendary performances in the final take on almost mythic qualities, with people remembering such events as Liverpool’s great comeback in 2005 or Zinedine Zidane’s wonder goal in 2002 winning the trophy for Real Madrid. Fans of the teams involved usually work themselves into a fever pitch over the event, with thousands of them descending upon the city where the final is held in the days before the game. Most of the fans do not even watch the final in the stadium, but instead travel to experience the event and the atmosphere surrounding the final with a few thousand of their friends. You can bet on the match, along with a lot of other matches, visit


Why the last game is so fascinating?

Fans of other teams, or even causal fans, also enjoy the match. The pressure of the game, along with the long process to determine the teams in the game, usually results in close, hard-fought matches. The NFL’s Super Bowl, for example, is often not a close game, but the European Champions League final is almost always a cracker-jack match with tackles flying in, teams pressing for winning goals, and superhuman efforts almost seem ordinary during the event. It is usually one of the last, if not the last, match in the calendar of the teams involved and so everyone leaves everything on the pitch. It is a must-see for any football fan, and almost any sports fan clears their schedule to see the match.


Imagesource: grapix/

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