The Champions League is arguably the biggest non-international football competition in the world, one that attracts the best players and the most fans. It is contested by the best teams from all major European leagues, with entrants determined based on how they performed during the previous domestic season. The bigger leagues, including the top tiers in England, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, are allocated more spaces and tend to produce more winners, but there have been finalists from many other countries as well, including Scotland, Romania, Portugal, Serbia, Greece, Belgium, and Sweden. The very first Champions League took place in 1955, at which point it was known as the European Cup. The first final was contested between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims, with the title going to the former. It switched to its current name in 1992, at which point it also adopted the iconic Champions League anthem, which gets the hearts of countless football fans beating faster every year. There are 32 teams entered into the main Champions League competition every year, but this follows several rounds of qualifying, during which many lower-ranked teams compete for a chance to enter the final stages, where they can secure sizeable prizes.
UK teams have won their fair share of Champions League and European Cup titles over the years, but for the most part, they have been overshadowed by Spanish teams. In 2018, following a 3-1 victory against Liverpool, Real Madrid won their 13th title, nearly twice as many as second-placed Milan, who had won 7. At that point, Real Madrid and Barcelona shared 18 titles between them, while English teams have won a combined total of just 13, the same as Real Madrid have won on their own. Real are not only the most dominant team, they are also the most consistent, having enjoyed many lucrative spells. They won five titles in a row from 1956 to 1960 and three in a row from 2016 to 2018. Between 1970 and 1990, the competition experienced some of its most unpredictable years, with multiple wins from Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Nottingham Forest, as well as one-off wins from Feyenoord, Aston Villa, PSV Eindhoven, Steaua Bucurest, and Juventus. Celtic have also been successful in the past, winning the 1967 competition before making it to the final in 1970. On both occasions the final score was 2-1; first with a win against Inter Milan, then a loss against Feyenoord.
The UK has a rich history in the Champions League. One of the most memorable games in the event’s history came in 2005, when Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit in the final, drawing 3-3 against AC Milan who they then beat in a penalty shootout. 6 years earlier, Manchester United had their own history-making moment when they scored two stoppage time goals to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 and claim their first title since 1968. In 2008, the competition witnessed its first all-English final when Manchester United faced-off against Chelsea in Moscow. It was a battle of Red vs Blue, the Premier League champions vs the runners-up. Just 2 points had separated the two in the league and after 90 minutes of Champions League football, they were inseparable, with only a penalty shootout deciding the victor and giving Man Utd their 3rd Champions League title. It was an all-English affair again in 2019, as Liverpool met Tottenham. Neither had won any silverware during the season and both were desperate to get their hands on the Champions League trophy. Liverpool eventually got the edge and won their 6th title following a 2-0 victory, their first win since their famous encounter in 2005.