The EUFA’s annual football competition for all of continental Europe, including Britain, is one of the most revered tournaments in all of competitive football. In terms of viewership, it is the most watched yearly sports event in the world. The highest turnout to date took place during the 2012-13 competition, during which 360 million viewers from around the globe tuned in to watch the events matches.
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The Champions League was introduced in 1992 after the closure of the European Cup competition. The new competition expanded on the old knockout style with several stages of play in a round-robin format. Many nations were initially only allowed to send their leagues’ top finishers to the competition, but some nations have now been allotted as many as five spots for their top teams to participate.
Beginning in summer, the Champions league consists of three qualifying rounds in a knockout format with a playoff round that follows. The 10 teams to survive the qualifiers are met with 22 other teams that have made the cut in advance. The teams are divided into eight groups of four for a double round-robin format. First and second place finishers in each group will then proceed to the final knockout phase and ultimately the final. Those who claim the championship are then qualified automatically for the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Cup competitions.
The UEFA announced specific changes to the competition format in 2016 that altered access to the competition in an effort to avoid the creation of a European Super League. As a result, the highest ranking clubs in the highest ranking European leagues were granted automatic qualification to the competition. The changes were met with resistance from smaller football associations, but those changes were ultimately ratified in December of 2016.
57 teams in all competed in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League. The first two legs of qualifying round one were played in June and July of 2017 with Víkingur Gøta, The New Saints, and Hibernians finishing in the top three positions respectively.
Round two saw Legia Warsaw finish in the highest position with a 9-0 aggregate, while Rijeka finished with 7-1 and Red Bull Salzburg, Celtic, and Qarabağ all finished with 6-0 against opponents.
Round three was split into two routes, Champions and League, for placement in the respective competitions. Steaua București and İstanbul Başakşehir finished highest in the League Route with 6-3 and 5-3 respectively.
For the Champions Route, Olympiacos and APOEL finished with top marks at 5-2 and 4-1 respectively.
Again split into league and champions routes, the playoff round was punctuated with many high-scoring results.
In the League Route, Liverpool and Sporting CP finished in top positions with aggregates of 6-3 and 5-1 respectively.
In the Champions Route, Celtic overpowered Astana with an 8-4 aggregate, while Olympiacos would best Rijeka at 3-1.