The UEFA Champions League, known simply as the Champions League, is an annual continental club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champion (and, for some nations, one or more runners-up) of each UEFA national association. The final of the 2012–13 tournament was the most watched UEFA Champions League final to date, as well as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide in 2013, drawing 360 million television viewers.
Introduced in 1992, the competition replaced the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, or simply European Cup, which had run since 1955, adding a group stage to the competition and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries. The pre-1992 competition was initially a straight knockout tournament open only to the champion club of each country. During the 1990s, the format was expanded, incorporating a round-robin group stage to include clubs that finished runner-up of some nation’s top level league. While most of Europe’s national leagues can still only enter their national league champion, Europe’s strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams for the competition, and will provide up to five teams from the 2015–16 season onwards. Clubs that finish next-in-line in each nation’s top level league, having not qualified for the UEFA Champions League competition, may be eligible for the next level UEFA Europa League competition.
In its present format, the UEFA Champions League begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 10 surviving teams enter the group stage, joining 22 other teams qualified in advance. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams and play each other in a double round-robin system. The eight group winners and eight runners-up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final match in May. The winner of the UEFA Champions League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition’s history, having won the tournament ten times, including its first five seasons. Spanish clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories (14 wins), followed by England and Italy (12 wins apiece). The competition has been won by 22 different clubs, 12 of which have won it more than once. Since the tournament changed name and structure in 1992, no club has managed consecutive wins; Milan were the last holders to successfully defend their title, in the 1989–90 season. The reigning champions are Real Madrid, who secured their tenth win in the competition after defeating Atlético Madrid 4–1 in the 2014 Final.
The 2015 UEFA Champions League Final will be the final match of the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League, the 60th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 23rd season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. It will be played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on 6 June 2015, between Italian side Juventus and Spanish side Barcelona.
The winners will earn the right to play against the winners of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League in the 2015 UEFA Super Cup. They will also qualify to enter the semi-finals of the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup as the UEFA representative.
The Olympiastadion was announced as the venue for the final at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting in London on 23 May 2013. This will be the first European Cup/Champions League final hosted in Berlin.
The current Olympiastadion was built for the 1936 Summer Olympics in the western part of the city and formed the southern part of the Reichssportfeld (today Olympiapark Berlin). During the Second World War, the area suffered little damage. After the war, Allied military occupation used the northern part of the Reichssportfeld as its headquarters until 1949.
This will be the eighth European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals for both Juventus and Barcelona. Juventus won two of their previous finals (1985, 1996) and lost five (1973, 1983, 1997, 1998, 2003), while Barcelona won four of their previous finals (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011) and lost three (1961, 1986, 1994). Barcelona also played in six Cup Winners’ Cup finals (winning in 1979, 1982, 1989, 1997, and losing in 1969, 1991), while Juventus also played in one Cup Winners’ Cup final (winning in 1984) and four UEFA Cup finals (winning in 1977, 1990, 1993, and losing in 1995).
In their previous UEFA club competition meetings, Barcelona won 2–1 on aggregate in the 1985–86 European Cup quarter-finals and 3–2 on aggregate in the 1990–91 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals, while Juventus won 3–2 on aggregate in the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Both teams may still win the treble of league, cup and Champions League titles (as of 13 May 2015, the only confirmed title is Juventus winning the 2014–15 Serie A).
Since 1985, the stadium has hosted the finals of both the DFB-Pokal and its companion women’s tournament, the Frauen DFB Pokal. The Olympiastadion hosted the Internationales Stadionfest, which also served as an IAAF Golden League event until 2010. The stadium hosted the 2009 World Championships in Athletics where Usain Bolt broke the 100m and 200m world records.
Aside from its use as an Olympic stadium, the Olympiastadion has a strong footballing tradition. Historically, it has been the home ground of Hertha BSC since 1963. It was also used for three matches at the 1974 FIFA World Cup. It was renovated ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, at which it hosted six matches, including the final.
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