Club Cups

Club Cups

The number of club cups is truly staggering.  Each country has multiple cups (Brazil even has a tournament for every state!) and some of them are composed of teams from multiple divisions.  This would be akin to a Major League Baseball team playing in a tournament with Minor League teams.  Club cups are played every year.  Below are an explanation of how the two most famous club cups operate.  Look for more cup information to be added at a later date.

Champion’s League

Format: Qualifying, group, and knockout

Current champions: Barcelona

Qualifying

Generally speaking, the Champions League is a tournament of the previous season’s 1st – 3rd place finishers from each European league, though three leagues (Spain, Italy, and England) are given spots for 1st through 4th place.  The top two (or three) finishers are given automatic places in the 32-team group stage.  The third place (or fourth place) teams have to play a mini tournament to get into the group stage.

Group and Knockout

Like the World Cup finals, the top two teams from each group advance to the knockout round.  However, unlike its more famous international counterpart, the Champions League knockout round is a two-leg tie system.  The final, though, is single-elimination and is played at a stadium determined before the start of the competition.

The Champions League is the premier club tournament and clubs that participate gain millions of dollars in TV revenue.  The fight for a league’s final Champions League spot is often as entertaining a part of the season as seeing who wins the league!

Europa League

Format: Qualifying, group, and knockout

Current champions: Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)

The Europa League is Champions League’s little brother – qualifying, in fact, is related to the Champions League.  If a league sends 4 teams to the Champions League, the 5th and 6th place finishers go to the Europa League.  For those divisions that send two teams to the Champions League, 3rd and 4th place sides go to the Europa League.  Further muddying the waters is the fact that winning a domestic cup also grants qualification.  And since most are won by the best clubs (ie the ones already in the Champions League), the runners-up to those domestic cups are often the sides that represent their nations in the Europa League.

While qualifying is complex, the group stage (double round-robin) and knockout round (single-elimination) follow the traditional format.

UEFA (European soccer’s governing body) chooses the host stadium for the final.

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