The 2017 UEFA Champions League Final

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Champions League Final

The Champions League Final is the most watched sporting event in the world with a global audience exceeding 350 million viewers. Arranged by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League is a prestigious tournament that utilizes a complex coefficient system to determine which clubs can compete in the grand European Cup.

It’s time to transform into the soccer fanatic you truly are. Here’s everything you need to know to be prepared for the 2017 Champions League Final. Read on!

Italian Side vs. Spanish Side

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The Spanish club Real Madrid and the Italian club Juventus have a history of going head-to-head with each other in the Champions League.

There’s no other way to look at it – both champions competing in the final leverage a real home-field advantage. A total of 18 Champions League matches have ensued between the competing teams: With nine of those games unraveling at Juventus Stadium, the other eight matches were hosted on Real Madrid’s world-famous stomping grounds, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. One round transpired on neutral turf.

“Juve,” “Juve,” “Juve!” is the enthusiastic chant that echoes throughout the sold out Juventus Stadium in an effort to galvanize the team. The Turin-based squad has claimed victory at six of its nine home matches and has scored 21 goals (an average of 1.17 per game) throughout the 18 showdowns. Conversely, Real Madrid won five of their eight home games with the tremendous support of die-hard Madridistas at their extravagant stadium. Real Madrid trails behind in total goals scored, with 18 shots passing the goaltender (one goal per game, on average).

Champions Route

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The journey to the Champions League Final is no walk in the park, so let’s see how the matches culminating to this imperative round went down.

Real Madrid defeated Napoli 3-1, with goals credited to Sergio Ramos, Álvaro Morata, and Dries Mertens shipping one right into his own team’s net. Next, in the quarterfinals, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo wreaked havoc on German team Bayern Munich by netting a total of five goals between both matches. The Meringues advanced to the semifinals, where they downed Atletico Madrid in return for a one-way ticket to the finals.

After achieving shutout success against both F.C. Porto and F.C. Barcelona, Juventus teammates are adamant in proving the durability of their back-line. We’ll even go as far as saying the team is a contender for the best defensive group in Champions League history. In the semi-finals, AS Monaco managed to break Juve’s back-line and ship one goal in – but it wasn’t enough to prevent La Fidanzata d’Italia (translation: “The Girlfriend of Italy”) from progressing to the finals.

Standout Strikers

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As the Champions League Final approaches, standout players from both the Spanish and Italian sides will leave everything they have on the field with one objective in mind: to hoist Ol’ Big Ears above their heads once again.

Looking to break their team’s 21-year Champions League drought: Dani Alves, Gonzalo Higuaín, and Paulo Dybala have their eyes set on the big prize. Italian football (soccer) has been attracting elite superstars as of late, and Juventus players hope to continue the trend by bringing home one of the highest accolades in European football.

🏆😙 #Juventus @juventus #Dybala #Higuaín @ghiguain20_9 @paulodybala #UCLfinal #championsleague

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If there’s one player you should direct your attention toward, make it Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese megastar is in peak condition and is showing no signs of slowing down in the concluding weeks of the season. Alvaro Morata and Karim Benzema are the other Real Madrid players to be on the lookout for – both proving to be central pieces to Real Madrid’s success during their campaign.

@cristiano + @garethbale11 = 🏆 #Cristiano #Ronaldo #Bale #RealMadrid @realmadrid #championsleague #UCLfinal

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It All Comes Down to This

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Champions League: Teams and Their Countries

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Champions League Overview

The Champions League is the ultimate soccer competition. Orchestrated by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League pits the champions of domestic leagues and other qualifiers against one another in a grand annual tournament. Some of the most popular teams from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 compete for eternal glory on the biggest stage.

Here’s all you need to know to be the most well-versed “football” hipster now that the European version is the only kind available until August.

They Like to Score

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No team has scored more goals in the history of the Champions League – rebranded as such from the European Cup in 1992 – than Real Madrid. The team has scored close to 900 goals in pursuit of European and Champions League honors. In their current campaign, the Madridistas count on the scoring power of Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Welsh forward Gareth Bale.

German side Bayern Munich and Spanish side FC Barcelona both trail significantly behind the Galácticos of Real Madrid. They’ve each scored around 300 fewer goals in total, even equipped with strong players in their attacking roles. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller help lead the line for the German giants, while MSN – Messi, Suárez, and Neymar – drive defenders crazy for Barça’s benefit.

In fourth place, with close to 500 goals, is Manchester United, the highest-scoring English side and the only one in the top five spots. The team will have to wait another year for their chance to add to this tally, though, as the Red Devils failed to qualify for the Champions League due to their subpar performance last season.

Countries With the Biggest Trophy Cases

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Between the European Cup and Champions League, Spanish clubs have produced the most success in winning the yearly competition. However, just two Spanish clubs share this success of over 16 titles: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. While English clubs haven’t seen the same volume of success that Spanish sides have, more teams have had a chance to wrap their collective hands around the trophy.

Liverpool (5 titles), Manchester United (3 titles), Nottingham Forest (2 titles), Aston Villa (1 title), and Chelsea (1 title) have all won either the European Cup or Champions League. In the 2017 campaign, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester City are the three English sides with a chance to claim Champions League glory. If they could win the cup, it would be the first time for any of these clubs to earn such an honor.

Where Winners Are Born

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In the first decade of the European Cup, Real Madrid claimed the top prize five times in a row. They then shared this honor with two Italian sides, AC Milan and Inter Milan, and one Portuguese side, Benfica. These were the only sides that won the right to be called European champions in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The 1970s saw the Spanish and Italian sides moved aside for teams hailing from England, Germany, and the Netherlands. There were also instances of back-to-back winners, with Ajax winning in ’71, ’72, and ’73. Bayern Munich would win in ’74, ’75, and ’76, while Liverpool would do a double in ’77 and ’78.

More recently, there has been a return to Spanish dominance, as Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the last three Champions League trophies.

Quest to Be the Best

Who will win the Champions League this year? Will it be a newcomer or a perennial favorite? Whichever team you’re rooting for, show everyone where your allegiance lies with officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.

Hitting the Back of the Net in the Champions League

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Champions League Top Scorers

While it’s not America’s most popular sport, soccer commands the attention of the rest of the world as the “Beautiful Game.” No competition pits so many of the best teams and players against each other than the Champions League. Hosted by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League is a multi-tiered competition involving group and knockout stages. The final, a last 90-minute outing between the two best teams, actually draws more eyeballs than the Big Game in the NFL!

While it takes a team to make it to the final game or to win the competition, individual brilliance is appreciated. Here are the names of the clubs and players you need to know, both from years past and some of today’s starting XIs, when it comes to slotting the ball into the net in the Champions League.

Golden Boots

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Even under the bright lights of some of the world’s biggest sporting competitions, singular players can shine by scoring goals. No one player has scored more goals than Real Madrid’s striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward is closing in on the century mark, a feat no other player has accomplished in the Champions League. However, he isn’t alone in making this climb.

The other household name player Lionel Messi sits only three goals behind Ronaldo. The FC Barcelona forward and Argentinian footballing prodigy continues to keep pace with his peers. In fact, these two players have each won the most coveted award in soccer, the FIFA Ballon d’Or, multiple times. Essentially soccer’s most valuable player award, Ronaldo and Messi are the only two to win the award over the last nine years.

It’s not just strikers from La Liga who have won the award – several of the best strikers in the Premier League’s biggest clubs have made their mark in the Champions League as well. Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry scored over 50 goals, seven more than former crosstown rival Didier Drogba, who scored 44 goals for Chelsea.

Target Practice

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While every goal counts the same, certain teams have a propensity to score more frequently from different locations on the pitch. Two clubs, La Liga giant FC Barcelona and the beloved Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, most frequently score inside the area. Each of these clubs has scored 18 goals in the 2016 Champions League Group Stage matches from this location.

Three clubs have specialized in scoring from outside the area with Juventus’ Bianconeri leading the charge. They boast two of the Serie A’s most dynamic strikers, Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala, who are both capable of netting a worldie.

When it comes to penalties, several teams have shown success in converting their chances. One of these is the Bundesliga’s champions-elect Bayern Munich. While the club converted two penalty attempts this season, they know just how important these chances are – just ask those Bayern players who lost to Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final on penalties.

Weapon of Choice

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While there are many locations to score goals from, there are also a few options a player may use to send that ball into the net. Whether they’re using their head or their weak or strong foot, each goal is crucial to advancing in the tournament. No one has scored more goals with their left foot in the 2016 Champions League than Lionel Messi.

However, behind him is Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian winger was part of Leicester City’s unprecedented Premier League title victory in the 2015-16 season and has been a key figure in their advancement to the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Edinson Cavani doesn’t just specialize with his right foot – which has helped him score four goals for Paris Saint-Germain – he’s also got a good head on his shoulders. The Uruguayan forward has sent two goals into the net with the use of his noggin, matching the efforts of other star players like S.S.C. Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik or Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.

Taking Their Shot

Whether your favorite team plays in England, France, Germany, or Spain, there’s no denying the quality of competition in the Champions League. Cheer on your favorite side with the best officially licensed club merchandise and apparel at Fanatics.

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