The UEFA Champions League (UCL) is an annual club football tournament which was established in 1955. It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in club football and is contested by the league champions, as well as the clubs finishing from second to fourth position in Europe’s top leagues. The tournament was first named as the European Cup and after the 1991-1992 season it was renamed as The Champions League.
A total of 22 clubs have won the Champions League/European Cup. Real Madrid holds the record for having won the competition most number of times (13). They have also won the competition the most number of times in a row, winning it five times from 1956 to 1960. Clubs from Spain have won the most number of times, with 18 wins from it’s two premier clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid.
In its current format, The Champions League begins in early July with four knockout qualifying rounds and a playoff round. Six teams qualify from this and join the remaining 26 teams in the group stage. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups and play each other twice. The eight group winners and the eight runners up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final.
Group Stage Draw Rules
The 26 teams who have qualified for the group stage are joined by six other teams through the playoff ties. The teams are split into four seeded pots. Pot 1 consists of the current Champions League winner, current Europa League winner and the champions of the six highest ranked European nations. The teams to be filled in pots 2,3 and 4 are determined by their respective club coefficient rankings. This is determined by the sum of all points won in the previous five years. In cases where clubs have identical five year coefficients, rankings are determined by coefficients in the recent season.
The 32 teams will be assigned to eight groups of four teams apiece. Each team in every group will play the other three teams twice, one at home and one away from home. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage, while the third placed team drops into The Europa League.
The draw will start with Pot 4, assigning each team from the pot into a group. This will eventually continue for Pot 3 then Pot 2 and Pot 1. One restriction is that teams from the same nation cannot be drawn against each other. There is also a rule that Ukrainian and Russian clubs cannot be drawn against one another because of the political instability between the two countries.
In case of nations with two or more representatives, clubs are paired in order to split their matches between Tuesday and Wednesday. If a paired club is drawn, for example in groups A,B,C or D, then the other paired club is automatically assigned to one of the groups E,F,G or H.
Knockout Stage Draw Rules
In the draw for the round of 16 matches, the winners of the eight groups are placed in the seeded pot and the runners up of the eight groups are placed in the unseeded pot. The seeded teams are drawn against the unseeded teams, with the seeded teams hosting the second leg. Teams from the same group or the same nation cannot be drawn against each other. For example, Liverpool cannot be drawn against the likes of Manchester United.
In the draws for the quarterfinals and semifinals, there are no seedings and the teams from the same group or the same nation can be drawn against each other. The team drawn first in each tie will play the first leg at home, with those drawn second starting away.
Round of 16 draw
Why was the Champions League round of 16 draw redrawn?
The Champions League round of 16 draw created a huge fuss in the world of football as UEFA was forced to redo the draw due to multiple errors that occurred during the initial draw. the initial tie of the first draw went according to plan as Real Madrid were drawn against Benfica. However, in the second tie, Manchester United were drawn against Villarreal which was a huge blunder as both teams played in the same group during the group stages.
More errors happened as during the draw for the third tie concerning Atletico, with Manchester United's ball not included in the pot, thus meaning their ball could not physically be pulled out. These errors were visible to all and fans started raise questions on social medias. Even the clubs involved in the draw asked for an explanation to the problems that happened at the draw.
After some time, UEFA released a statement stating that the draw has been declared void and it will be entirely redone. UEFA said:
"Following a technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials as to which teams are eligible to play each other, a material error occurred in the draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 1500 CET."