The Champions League is the most prestigious cup competition in European Soccer and one of the most popular tournaments in all of sport. Every year, 32 teams from all corners of Europe compete to crown themselves the best club on the continent. The final has been one of the most anticipated events on the European Soccer calendar since its inception, with the first tournament being held back in the 1955-56 season. Sufficed to say, it has experienced a few changes since then.
Originally comprised of just 16 teams competing in four straight-knockout rounds, it expanded to 32 in 1960 and added another round. Up until 1992, it was known simply as ‘The European Cup’ until UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) changed the name of the tournament to the UEFA Champions League and replaced the first round with a group period. This was the beginning of the tournament as we know it now.
The 32 teams were split into eight groups of four, with each team playing the three in their group twice (Home and Away) in a round-robin format. The winner and runner-up of each group then progressed to the knockout stages of the tournament, starting in the round of 16 through to the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. The first three knockout rounds are played over two legs (home and away) with the winner progressing based on the aggregate score of both games. If they are level after the aggregate score, the second game goes to extra-time followed by a penalty shootout if necessary. Formerly, an away goals rule was in place, but later abolished in the 20-21 season.
Before the tournament can begin, a draw must take place to decide which group every team will play in. Every team is split into four ‘pots’. Pot 1 contains the winners of the previous season’s champions league and Europa League tournaments titleholders and the champions of the top six leagues (English, Spanish, German, Italian, French and Portuguese) with the remaining teams split into pots two, three and four. For the next round, the Champions League draw time is 12pm in the home of European Football, Nyon, Switzerland. The best teams in the competition will be hoping for as favourable a draw as possible, as the heavyweights will be hoping to avoid each other. If you would like to know how you can follow the draw and the excitement that follows, here is a guide on just how you can do so.
How to watch in the UK
In the UK, every minute of every game will be shown live on BT Sport. Spread across three different channels, they have a ‘red button’ option allowing you to choose from any game that is taking place on that day. Whilst you can choose to include BT in your Sky package or by purchasing a BT TV box and subscription, you can also stream the game online. If you don’t have a Sky or BT set-top box you can subscribe to the BT Sport app and watch using your phone, laptop, tablet or games console. You can also purchase a NOW TV sport subscription and include BT. Prices of all of these subscriptions may vary.
How to watch in the US
A select number of games in the 21/22 season will be shown live on CBS. However, if you don’t want to miss a minute of the action, soccer fans in the U.S. can watch every single game of the campaign on Paramount Plus. Their basic package costs $4.99/month or you can go ad-free for $9.99/month.
How to watch in Canada
Much like the US, Canada are also able to watch every minute of the tournament via streaming. By using DAZN. The subscription comes with two different plans, with customers being offered the choice of paying $20 CAD per month or $150 CAD for the year. DAZN is able to be streamed just like Paramount Plus and NOW TV, using any device such as your phone, tablet, laptop or games console. In Canada, DAZN also streams Premier League soccer.
The 2021-22 Champions League is set to be one of the best. With fans now back in attendance, the atmosphere is better than ever and the level of competition is fierce. There is no clear favourite as we approach the end of the group stages and edge further towards the knockouts. Wherever you are in the world and however you decide to watch, you are not going to want to miss the greatest club tournament in the world.