The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition which was established in 1955. The tournament was first named as the European Cup but after the 1991/1992 season it was renamed as The Champions League.
The Champions League has maintained a charm of its own over the years where it has asserted itself as Europe’s premier club competition. The prospect of the best clubs from Europe locking horns against each other makes the tournament appealing with the level of competition on a higher pedestal than any other league.
The teams who occupy the top three league places in the countries ranked 1 to 3 in UEFA competition gain automatic entry into the group stages for the following season’s Champions League. The first and second placed teams in the countries ranked 4 to 6 also gain automatic entry, as do the champions in the countries ranked 7 to 12. The Champions League holders automatically get the chance to defend their title in the next season.
For teams who do not make it to the competition automatically, there are two qualifying avenues.
The first one is The Champions Route in which the first qualifying round sees the champions of the countries ranked 50 to 53 in UEFA competition play two legged ties. The two winners of those ties progress to the second qualifying round where they are joined by the champions of the 32 countries ranked 17 to 49 except Liechtenstein. The victorious sides from those 17 ties join the champions from the countries ranked 14 to 16 in the third qualifying round. The winners of these 10 ties go through to the play-off round. The winners of each of these five ties, which take place on a home and away basis, reach the group stages of the Champions League.
Another route is the League Route in which the third placed team from the sixth ranked association starts in the third qualifying round alongside the runners-up from the associations ranked 7 to 15. The winners of these five ties go through to the play off round where they are joined by the fourth placed teams from the associations ranked 1 to 3 and the third-placed sides from the associations ranked 4 and 5. The teams that emerge victorious from these five ties go through to the group stages of the Champions League.
Teams in the Champions Route cannot meet those in the League route. Teams who lose in the third qualifying round go into the Europa League play-offs. The five teams who lose in the Champions League playoff round enter the Europa League group stages.
The 32 teams who have qualified for the group stage 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. If either or both titleholders are the domestic champions of one of the top six associations, the pot is completed with the champion of the next highest ranked nation.
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. A club receives two coefficient points for a win and one for a draw. In cases where clubs have identical five year coefficients, rankings are determined by coefficients in the recent season.
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. The home team for the finals will be determined by an additional draw held after the quarterfinal and semifinal draws.