What is UEFA Champions League?
The UEFA Champions League came about as a new model of the European Cup and was played for the very first time in the 1992-1993 term.
Already established as the most popular club tournament in football, UCL has become even more prestigious with the introduction of a mini-division group stage system.
The new concept had a similarity to the FIFA World Cup, with an early phase of group play, come behind a knockout phase.
For several times has the competition expanded to include more teams – the initial eight have become 32 (qualification period excluded).
The UEFA Champions League trophy can be kept forever by a side that win the tournament five times or three times consecutively (since the rule changed 13 years ago, it is only a replica).
The elite European clubs have thus far dominated the tournament, and few shock victories have occurred. Perhaps Porto’s victory back in 2004 should be considered as the biggest surprise.
Potential furores that could have happened was Nantes in the 1995-96 season that almost managed to go through the Serie A giants Juventus in the semi-finals (lost 3-4 on aggregate).
If the Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kyiv had won in 1998-99, it’d also be seen as a sensation; The club were only one goal down on aggregation versus Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.
Two years later, Leeds United reached the semi-finals but was not near to beat Valencia that time.
Villarreal are another club that are not familiar to be seen at the final stages in the biggest events;
The Yellow Submarine were only one goal down on aggregation against then Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in the semi-finals in 2006.
Who are the traditional favourites?
Traditional UCL giants such as Barcelona and Real Madrid have looked weak.
Both clubs look to be going through a rebuilding process but do have plenty of match-winners in their squads who can take their clubs deep into the tournament.
Juventus and Bayern should also be among the favourites, of course, even though the Old Lady have been playing poorly for the last few seasons.
That can’t be said about Die Roten, who, with their fighting spirit, balanced and high-class players can defeat anyone.
But, as the main frontrunners, as always, we have to name the winners of the previous UCL, in this case, Chelsea.
Champions League – 2021/22 season (odds)
Manchester City 5/2
Bayern Munich 5/1
Manchester United 10/1