One of the most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world, the UEFA Champions League is an annual continental club championship organized by the Union of European Football Associations. The Champions League, as it is popularly known, began in 1992 replacing the European Club which had run since 1955. It added a group stage to the competition and allowed multiple entrants from selected countries. The strongest national leagues can send up to four teams and the number is set to increase to five teams from 2015 onwards.
The Champions League begins in mid-July with three knock-out qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 10 qualifying teams join 22 other teams who have qualified in advance according to a UEFA coefficient ranking (which is calculated over a five-year basis), making a total of 32 teams. The teams are divided into eight groups of four teams each and play against each other in a double round-robin system. The winners and runners-up of each group proceed to the knockout phase that ends with the final match in May.
The 2013-14 UEFA Champions League began with a draw for the first and second qualifying rounds in Nyon, Switzerland (the League’s headquarters) on June 24, 2013 and will conclude at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday May 24, 2014. Currently, the tournament is approaching the knockout stage and the schedules are as follows:
- Qualifying rounds: The matches of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd qualifying rounds were played on July 2, 9, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31, 2013 and August 6 and 7, 2013.
- Play-off rounds: The matches of the play-off round were played on August 20, 21, 27 and 28 2013.
- Group stage: The group stage matches were played on September 17 and 18, 2013, November 2, 5, 6, 26 and 27, 2013 and December 10 and 11, 2013. Sixteen teams advanced to the knockout phase.
- Knockout phase: The matches of the 1st leg of the knockout phase between 8 winners and 8 runners-up of the Group Stage took place February 18, 19, 25 and 26, 2014 and those of the 2nd leg are scheduled for March 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2014.
- Quarter finals: The matches of the 1st leg of the quarter final are scheduled for April 1 and 2 and those of the 2nd leg for April 8 and 9, 2014.
- Semi-finals: The matches of the 1st leg of the semi-finals will be played on April 22 and 23, 2014 and those of the 2nd leg will be played on April 29 and 30, 2014
- Final: The final match of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League will be played at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday, May 24, 2014
If they manage to reach the final again, the defending champions Bayern Munich, who beat their Bundesliga rival Borussia Dortmund in 2012-13, will face tough contenders like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Barcelona. So far, Spanish clubs have the highest number of victories (13 times), with Real Madrid being the most successful club in the League’s history. Spain is followed by England and Italy, with 12 wins each.
The Champions League is so popular that the final match of the 2012-13 competition, played at Wembley Stadium in London was watched by 360 million television viewers worldwide. This made it the most watched annual sporting event of the year.
So come join us in Portugal for the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League Final and be a part of one of the greatest sporting spectacles on earth. Click here to start planning your trip, and get a custom quote for this once in a lifetime experience.