The Champions League was established as a seasonal football competition since 1955 by Europe’s football governing body UEFA.
Principally, the Champions League is open to domestic league winner of all UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) member associations with the exception of Liechtenstein, which currently runs no domestic league competition.
Furthermore, the Champions League also welcomes some top clubs in Europe’s big leagues that end their domestic campaign between second to fourth spot.
Previously, the Champions League was known as the European Cup before it was rechristened during the 1992–93 season.
Initially, only the respective national league winners and the defending champion of the Champions League were permitted to take part in Europe’s premier club competition.
However, this was rule was changed in 1997 to permit runners-up of the stronger leagues across Europe to compete.
At the commencement of the Champions League era, the defending champion did not automatically qualify for the tournament until the rules were changed in 2005 to grant title holders Liverpool free passage into the tournament.
Interestingly, clubs that have won the Champions League three times in a row, or five times overall, receive a multiple-winner badge.
At the last count six clubs that include Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, Liverpool and Barcelona have earned this privilege.
However, a total of 22 clubs have claimed the Champions League/European trophy.
Spanish giants Real Madrid currently hold the record for the most victories, having claimed the competition 13 times, including the inaugural edition of Europe’s most popular club football competition.
The Los Blancos have also won the seasonal competition the most times in a row, claiming it five times between 1956 and 1960.
On the other hand, Italian topflight champions Juventus have been runners-up most times, losing seven times in the finals.
La Liga side Atlético Madrid remain the only club to play in three finals without tasting victory while the pair of Reims and Valencia have ended up twice as runners-up twice without winning.
On the whole, Spanish clubs have provided the most champions, with 18 wins from two clubs.
Italy account for 12 winners from three clubs as England produced 12 winners from five clubs.
Interestingly, English clubs were axed from the competition for five years no thanks to the Heysel disaster in 1985.
Real Madrid are the current holders of the Champions League after beating Liverpool at the 2018 final in Kiev, Ukraine.
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