UEFA Champions League Previews, Predictions & Betting Tips

What is the UEFA Champions League?

The UEFA Champions League (UCL) is an annual continental club football competition that is organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is the biggest, most watched and most prestigious club football tournament and one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world.

The 2018–19 UEFA Champions League is the 64th edition of the competition and the 27th since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.

The video assistant referee (VAR) system will be used from the round of 16 onwards in the 2018-19 season.

UEFA Champions League History

The UEFA Champions League has roots in the Challenge Cup, Mitropa Cup, Nations Cup and the Latin Cup which was formed in 1949. The competitions as we know it was conceived in Paris in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup, or European Cup.

The first European Cup took place in 1955-56 season with 16 teams participating. The first European Cup final was contested between Stade de Reims and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes with the Spanish club winning 4-3 thanks to goals from Alfredo Di Stéfano, Marquitos and a Héctor Rial double.

Real Madrid dominated the European Cup from then on, winning five consecutive titles which is a record that hasn’t been broken. Portuguese club Benfica were the next club to win the competition with Eusébio leading the way before Italian clubs AC Milan and Internazionale took control of Europe.

Real Madrid won their sixth title in 1965-66 before Celtic, Manchester United and AC Milan won in the following seasons. Dutch clubs took over from 1969-70 with Feyenoord winning the title before Johan Cruyff inspired Ajax Amsterdam to three consecutive titles.

Bayern Munich took over with three straight wins before English clubs dominated the European Cup from 1976-77. Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa were European Cup champions in a six year spell which was broken by Hamburg in 1982-83.

Liverpool regained the European Cup the following season before a terrible tragedy at the 1984-85 final between Liverpool and Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. The death of 39 mostly Juventus fans resulted in a five-year ban from European competition for English clubs Liverpool banned for a six years.

Steaua Bucharest, FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven, AC Milan, Red Star Belgrade and Barcelona were subsequent champions before the European Cup was renamed the UEFA Champions League for the 1992–93 season. Marseille won the 1993 final against AC Milan but were later banned due to domestic match fixing. AC Milan won their fifth title the following season before Ajax, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid won the title.

An English club won the competition for the first time in 14 years when Manchester United defeated Bayern Munich in the 1998-99 final. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, FC Porto, Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United were subsequent winners before Spanish clubs began to dominate the UEFA Champions League.

Barcelona won in 2008-09 and 2010-11 before Real Madrid won their 10th European Cup in 2013-14. Barcelona won the following season but Real Madrid bounced back to win three consecutive titles under manager Zinedine Zidane.

Zinedine Zidane guided Real Madrid to three straight UEFA Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018 (Getty Images)

What is the UEFA Champions League format?

The UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds begin in late June with a preliminary qualifying round and three qualifying rounds. A play-off is used to decide which six clubs will join the 26 that already qualified for the group stage, with these 32 teams drawn into eight groups of four that play against each other home and away.

The eight group winners and runners-up proceeding to the knockout phase, with the round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals all home and away two-legged affairs. The UEFA Champions League final is a one off match at a predetermined stadium.

The winners of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup and the 2019 UEFA Super Cup where they will play against the winners of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League. The winners will also automatically qualify for the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League group stage unless they have already qualified through their domestic league performance.

Who has won the most UEFA Champions League titles?

Real Madrid have won the most UEFA Champions League / European Cup titles with 13 victories (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). 

AC Milan have won seven titles with Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Barcelona all winning five times. Ajax Amsterdam have won four titles with Manchester United and Internazionale winning on three occasions.

Juventus, Benfica, Nottingham Forest and FC Porto have all won twice with 10 clubs winning once including Celtic, Hamburg, Steaua Bucharest, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Feyenoord, Aston Villa, PSV Eindhoven and Red Star Belgrade.
What clubs have won the most UEFA Champions League titles?

Clubs from Spain (Real Madrid and Barcelona) have won 18 titles with Italian and English clubs winning 12 each. German clubs have won seven times, Netherlands six with Portuguese clubs winning four titles. Four nations have a club that has won once including France, Scotland, Romania and Yugoslavia.

Since the 1996-97 season the UEFA Champions League has been dominated by clubs from Spain, England, Italy and Germany. Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona have won seven of the last 10 competitions.

Who has scored the most UEFA Champions League goals?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been going head to head for more than a decade with both superstars leading the way. Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski are two of the current players in the top 10 with all the other players on the list having retired.

Raul scored 71 goals for Real Madrid and Schalke, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals for PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid with Thierry Henry, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Andriy Shevchenko and Zlatan Ibrahimović rounding off the top 10. List correct as of 12 December 2018:

Cristiano RonaldoPortugal121158
Lionel MessiArgentina106129
Karim BenzemaFrance59110
Ruud van NistelrooyNetherlands5673
Robert LewandowskiPoland5378
Thierry HenryFrance50112
Alfredo Di StefanoArgentina4958
Andriy ShevchenkoUkraine48100
Zlatan IbrahimovicSweden48120

What happened in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League?

The round of 16 saw Real Madrid get past Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus beat Tottenham Hotspur to set up a quarter-final clash. Real Madrid won the 1st leg in Italy 3-0 with an incredible Cristiano Ronaldo overhead kick with the Spanish club holding onto the tie in Madrid despite losing 3-1.

The other quarter-finals saw Bayern Munich defeat Sevilla and Liverpool take care of Manchester City with a 5-1 aggregate victory. Barcelona defeated Roma 4-1 in the first leg before a huge comeback from the Italians in Rome, a 3-0 win putting them through on away goals.

Real Madrid edged past Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals and Liverpool got past Roma after a 5-2 home win was followed by a 4-2 defeat in Rome. The 2017-18 UEFA Champions League final was contested between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on 26 May 2018.

After a goalless first half, Karim Benzema put Real Madrid ahead in the 51st minute before Sadio Mane equalised for Liverpool four minutes later. Gareth Bale came off the bench not long after and stepped up with two goals to give Real Madrid their third consecutive title and 13th overall.

Gareth Bale scored two goals for Real Madrid in the 2017-18 final including an incredible overhead kick (Getty Images)

What is the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Prize Money?

The prize money for the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League is as follows:

  • Winning the Final: €19,000,000
  • Losing finalist: €15,000,000
  • Semi-finals: €12,000,000
  • Quarter-finals: €10,500,000
  • Round of 16: €9,500,000
  • Group match victory: €2,700,000
  • Group match draw: €900,000
  • Base fee for group stage: €15,250,000
  • Third qualifying round: €480,000
  • Second qualifying round: €380,000
  • First qualifying round: €280,000
  • Preliminary qualifying round: €230,000

Where is the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final being played?

The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final will be played at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Spain.

When is the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final?

The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final will be contested on 1 June 2019

Who are the favourites to win the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League?

Manchester City are the favourites to lift their first UEFA Champions League trophy with five time winners Barcelona and Juventus close behind. Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are next best with Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund given an outside chance by bookmakers.

Who were the recent UEFA Champions League Winners and Runners-up?

Winning Nation

2017-18SpainReal MadridLiverpool
2016-17SpainReal MadridJuventus
2015-16SpainReal MadridAtletico Madrid
2013-14SpainReal MadridAtletico Madrid
2012-13GermanyBayern MunichBorussia Dortmund
2011-12EnglandChelseaBayern Munich
2010-11SpainBarcelonaManchester United
2009-10ItalyInternazionaleBayern Munich
2008-09SpainBarcelonaManchester United
2007-08EnglandManchester UnitedChelsea

We love the UEFA Champions League at Free Tips and cover the competition comprehensively including UEFA Champions League handicap tips, anytime goalscorer tips and our outright UEFA Champions League competition winner tips to help you build your bankroll.

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