Just six days until Arsenal's round of 16 game, and as I sat down to write a preview (which should be up Wednesday or Thursday) I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that most people probably aren't as familiar with UEFA Women's Champions League, or just UWCL for short because my goodness that's a mouthful, as I am. In fact, most people I know weren't even aware that women had their own Champions League.
Perhaps I'm just surrounded by peons, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to put up a post that helps everyone through the process and gives some background info on just how this tournament works. It's similar to the men's version so it's really not going to be anything mind blowing, but get out your pen and paper because here we go.
First off, let's start with a bit of a history lesson. Back in the day, before the UWCL, there was the UEFA Women's Cup. Around 2001 someone said "Hey. Maybe we should have a major women's club tournament here in Europe." Ok that's probably not how it happened, but regardless the UEFA Women's Cup was born.
The Cup was around from 2001 all the way until 2007, rest in peace, when it was decided that the tournament would be reformatted and thus renamed. Enter UWCL. (Another reason to care about the Cup besides potential trivia answers and learning is because Arsenal won the last edition of the cup in 2006-2007, beating Umea IK 1-0 on aggregate. Riveting stuff.)
Before the knockout rounds even begin, UWCL starts with the qualifying round. Essentially if you are a club that plays in a league in a country that is outside the top 15 in UEFA League Coefficient, if you win your league you start your Champions League journey in the qualifying rounds. Qualifying consists of groups of 4, with group winners advancing into the knockout rounds. Group runners up can also qualify, depending on the amount of teams needed to reach 32 to start the knockout stage.
Now, you may be asking, "what about the teams that are in the top 15 of the UEFA League Coefficient, Rachael?" Well since you asked so nicely, here's an explanation of how that all works. The respective league champions of the top 15 countries in the league coefficient automatically qualify for Champions League, and start in the round of 32. If you're REALLY good, and sit in the top eight of the coefficient, then not only does the league champion qualify, but so does the runner up. They also start in the round of 32.
Whew. With all of that out of the way let's get into the fun stuff. Knockout rounds. To figure out who's going to play who, there is a draw. The draw decides the matches for the round of 32, and what winners will face each other in the round of 16. After the final eight teams have been decided there is another draw to determine the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final.
And that's it! Oh wait one last thing, MONEY. Here's the big moolah everyone's going home with:
Champion - £211k
Runner Up - £169k
Losing Semifinalists - £42k
Losing Quarterfinalists - £21k
Ok. I assure you that is it. If you made it through this whole article you deserve a big chocolate chip cookie and multiple hugs. Unfortunately the only thing you get is virtual cookies on your computer.