A Beginner's Guide to European Tournaments
Along with the English cups going on during the Premier League season, there are two European tournaments occurring as well: The Champions League and the Europa League.
1. The Champions League
Simply put, on average, this tournament showcases the best football in the world. Here is how it works, at the end of the Premier League season the top 4 of the table are entered into the Champions League for the following season. So, if you make it into the Champions League, you will have 4 trophies to compete for: the Premier League Title, the FA Cup, the EFL Cup, and The Champions League trophy.
The Champions League is the most prestigious of all of the club trophies. The top 4 of the Premier League join all of the best clubs in Europe from other leagues (Spain, Italy, Germany, etc.) The tournament begins in a round robin format. 32 teams, sorted randomly into 8 groups of 4. Each team plays the rest of the teams in their group, home and away. 3 points for a win, 1 point for draw. The top 2 teams in each group moves forward to the knockout stages.
16 teams make it to the knockout bracket stage. Teams will play home and away each round, with the team scoring the most aggregate goals advancing on. In the case of an equal amount of aggregate goals, the tie breaker rest with the side who most scored away goals (goals scored at the other teams ground).The Champions League final is played in a typically neutral location at one of the larger stadiums across Europe and is only one match, extra time and penalty kicks if need be. The 2018 Final will be held at National Sports Complex Olimpiyskiy, home to FC Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.
Every team in Europe wants to be in this competition because of the prestige and the opportunities that open for the club. Clubs in the Champions League get paid large amounts of money per match, which the clubs can use to buy players, hire coaches, etc. Also, players are aware of the prestige. It is easier to draw world class players to teams that are in the Champions League because it is the biggest stage for a football club.
2. The Europa League
The Europa League is the same format as the Champions League. If you're familiar with the NCAA tournament, the Europa League is the NIT tournament. The clubs that finish 5-6 in the Premier League qualify for the Europa League for the following season. Europa League clubs still get money but not as much as clubs in the Champions League. The winner of the Europa League final automatically qualifies for the Champions League the following season as well.
In 2005 Liverpool won their 5th Champions League trophy after one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football. The match is known as the Miracle of Istanbul. AC Milan were ahead 3-0 at halftime. Liverpool score 3 goal in a six minute period in the second half. Liverpool went on to win the Champions League after defeating AC Milan in penalties. Please look it up.
In the rare occasion that a club wins the Champions League 5 times, they get to bring home the Champions League trophy permanently.
Here's Casey with Ol' Big Ears!