Listening Report: Big European Cup Competitions
The two tournaments’ histories
The Champions League is a much more prestigious tournament than the Europa League, and it started back in 1955 as the European Champion Club’s Cup, or more simply the European Cup. It was a simple knock out competition then, played over two legs, and only the champions from each country took part. In 1992 it was re-branded as the Champions League, group stages were introduced and since then the number of teams from each country taking part has expanded. From 2015, five from some countries can enter.
The Europa League was created out of two older competitions, the UEFA Cup, started in 1971, and the Cup Winners Cup, founded in 1960. The Cup Winners Cup, as its name suggests, was for teams who had won a domestic cup, while the UEFA Cup was for teams finishing in the positions behind the winners. In 1999 these two competitions merged so that cup winners, runners-up, and even teams who had a good ‘fair play‘ record entered. Since 2009, it has been known as the Europa League.
The most successful clubs in the Champions League are Real Madrid, with 10 titles, followed by Milan on seven, and Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, each on five. The current champions are Barcelona. In the Europa League the clubs with the most wins are Sevilla, with four trophies, and Juventus, Liverpool and Inter with three. The current champions are Sevilla.
The format for the Champions League is quite straightforward. There are 22 teams who enter the group stages directly and 10 that come through qualifying rounds. Each national association that qualifies, can send between 1 and 4 teams. This is based on how successful each nation is over the previous five years. The 32 teams are seeded and play the group stage with the top two in each group going through to the knockout phase, which is played over two legs.
In the Europa League, basically each nation in Europe has three teams in the competition, based on which team won the domestic cup and where they finished in the league. In 2015 102 teams started the qualifying rounds with 48 making it to the group stages. The teams finishing first and second in this stage (24 of them) are joined by eight teams from the Champions League groups stages, who finished third in their groups, making 32 teams. From this stage, it is a knockout competition with home and away ties.
The prize money for the Champions League dwarfs that for the Europa League. The Champions League winners in 2016 can expect to receive 15 million euros compared to 6.5 million for the Europa League winners. The Champions League teams also receive much more money through TV deals than those taking part in the Europa League.
prestigious: having respect and admiration; being important
a leg: a match; a tie; a game (used with first leg, second leg, two legs…)
fair play: a team that respects the rules of the games, is polite, does not cheat or complain displays fair paly
current: at present; now; nowadays
straightforward: simple, clear, easy
seeded: given a higher status in a tournament