The UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle competition in world soccer. Top clubs across the best leagues from across the world compete for a title that arguably rivals the World Cup itself.
Today, we're going to take a look at a few of the astonishing facts behind this incredible club competition.
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In the 2016/17 season, Real Madrid became the first team to ever successfully defend the UEFA Champions League title. Only AC Milan retains a comparable feat, by winning two consecutive European Cups in 1989 and 1990. Milan, Ajax, Juventus and Manchester United are the only other teams to all return to the finals as title holders only to lose to the new champions.
Real Madrid's remarkable achievement continued as they became the first team to win three titles in a row in 2017/18, also becoming the fourth club to win three or more successive titles in European Cup history and the first to do it twice.
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Spain happen to be the most successful nation competing in the Champions League with 11 title wins, 6 more than nearest competing nation Italy who have 5. Spain's wins came in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. England emerged victorious in 1999, 2005, 2008 and 2012 and were losing finalists in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2018 while Germany were winners in 1997, 2001 and 2013 and runners-up in 1999, 2002, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
Real Madrid also made their seventh appearance in 2018, a new record in itself, surparssing the mark of AC Milan and Juventus.
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In 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to find the back of the net in three different UEFA Champions League final matches. He scored for Manchester United in 2008 and Real Madrid in 2014.
Raúl González (Madrid 2000 and 2002), Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona 2006 and 2009), Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2009 and 2011), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid 2014, 2016), Mario Mandžukić (Bayern München 2013, Juventus 2017) and Gareth Bale (Real Madrid 2014, 2018) have scored in two UEFA Champions League finals – part of an exclusive club of 20 players to have found the net in more than one European Cup showpiece.
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Ronaldo set a new record for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League with 11 goals in 2015/16, outscoring both himself(2013/14) and Luiz Adriano(2014/15). Messi got 10 goals in 2016/17 while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Filippo Inzaghi, Hernan Crespo and Robert Lewandowski all have scored 8 goals in Champions League group games.
Some of the more interesting records include Paolo Maldini's goal in 2005 which he scored 51 seconds after the starting whistle, making it the fastest Champions League goal ever scored. Lionel Messi also became the first ever player to score five goals in a single match when Barcelona smashed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 on 7 March 2012.
Oldest and youngest
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The oldest player to ever compete in the UEFA Champions League is Marco Ballotta, goalkeeper for Lazio. He was 43 years and 252 days old when he took the field against Real Madrid in 2007. Alessandro Costacurta is the oldest outfield player who was 40 years and 211 days when he played against AEK Athens in 2006/07. The youngest player to ever appear in the UCL was Celestine Babayaro who was 16 years and 87 days old when he started for Anderlecht.
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The oldest player to ever score in the Champions League was Francesco Totti who was 38 when he played a 1-1 match between Roma and CSKA Moskva. The youngest player to ever score in the competition is Peter Ofori-Quaye, who was 17 years old when he found the net in Olympiacos's 5-1 defeat at Rosenborg on 1 October 1997.
Every year the Champions League is full of new, exciting drama and brand new records. The group stage draw for the 2019/20 competition is taking place on August 29. Make sure you get your outright bets in on the competition and remember, you can bet on every exciting UCL game live at Betway.
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