UEFA Champions League - Tournament Structure / Competition Format

The UEFA Champions League is the top football competition in the world today. This is where the best teams are. This is where the best players are. This is where the money is.

The UEFA Champions League - LogoThe UEFA Champions League competition can be divided into 4 different sections.

1. Qualifying
2. Group Stage
3. Knockout stage
4. Final

First of all, most european countries have a football association. These associations are ranked according to the performance of their teams in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League over the last 5 years. Each association is given a coefficient, and according to that coefficient entries to the UEFA Champions League are given each year. Spain, England and Germany have the highest coefficients at the moment and the top 4 teams from their primary league competitions (La Liga, Premier League and Bundesliga) enter the UEFA Champions League. Countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Lithuania for example get 1 entry each. The higher the coefficient of a country, less qualifying its teams have to go through to make it to the group stage. Top placing teams get direct placement into the group stage while lower placing teams have to go through qualifying rounds . The teams from countries with lower coefficients have to battle through as many as 4 rounds of qualifying.

In the qualifying part of the competition home and away matches are played where the team with a better goal differential in each matchup advances to the next round. In the event of a draw, away goals are considered (more away goals the better) and if necessary, overtime is played at the end of the 2nd match. If the teams are still tied after overtime is done, penalty shootout decides the winner. In the end, 10 teams from the qualifying round earn a spot in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League where they are joined by 22 teams which are placed there directly. As we said before, the 22 teams that are placed in the group stage directly are the top ranking teams from associations with highest coefficients.

In the group stage of the tournament, 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4 with one rule being that teams from same countries are placed in separate groups. Each team in a given group plays home and away games against the other 3 teams from the same group. At the end of group stage, 2 top teams from each group (total of 16 teams) advance to the knockout stage of the competition.

In the knockout stage of the competition teams are paired up so the winner of a group plays the 2nd place team from another group. Again teams from same countries are not paired up. Home and away games are played in the 'best of 16 round', the quarterfinals and then the semi-finals. The winners of the 2 semi-finals matches go to the final.

in the final, one match is played and the winning team earns the UEFA Champions League trophy. Every year the final game is played in a different city. The UEFA Champions League Final of 2012 was played in Munich, Germany where Chelsea beat Bayern 4-3 in the penalty shootout. The 2013 Uefa Champions League Final will take place in London, England.