In the world of sports, there’s nothing better than going best against best with the winner claiming all the marbles. While the competition doesn’t perfectly allow for that scenario, the UEFA Champions League is as close as we’ll get. As its name suggests, it pits champions (and some additional clubs) from all across European soccer to see who reigns supreme as the continent’s top dog.
Although winning a single European trophy is an impressive feat, a handful of clubs have had repeated success in the Champions League. With that in mind, which club has won the competition the most times?
A brief history of the UFEA Champions League
If you’re a European soccer fan, the Champions League is simply part of the annual calendar. The competition, however, didn’t always exist as we now know it.
While competition between various nations’ top clubs wasn’t a new idea, the modern Champions League descends from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, which began in 1955. In that tournament, each country’s champion would be entered into a single-elimination bracket with the winner claiming continental supremacy.
Although things have changed over the years due to commercial realities—the competition is now known as the UEFA Champions League, there is a group stage before the knockout rounds, and the larger nations send several clubs, rather than just their champion—the fundamental concept hasn’t changed. While winning a domestic title or cup is worth celebrating, taking home European honors carries an additional level of prestige.
Who has won the most Champions League titles?
In the big picture, the Champions League is the top prize of a European soccer season. Unsurprisingly, that means the biggest clubs tend to dominate the competition.
Historically, Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition; over the years, Los Blancos have lifted the trophy 14 times. The Spanish giant also leads the way with 44 appearances in the Champions League, and 439 total matches played.
According to UEFA’s official stats, AC Milan is the second-winningest club, claiming seven Champions League titles. Liverpool, who won the 2019 competition, is next with six titles; both Bayern Munich and Barcelona clock in with five.
Who will win the 2020 competition?
While Real Madrid won’t get to add another trophy to their cabinet this year, the 2020 Champions League Final still features two of the continent’s biggest clubs. On Sunday, August 23, Bayern Munich and PSG will be battling for European supremacy in Lisbon.
On paper, Bayern has the advantage; the Germans have been scoring goals for fun, and 538 gives them a 64% chance of claiming the crown. PSG, however, isn’t short of attacking talent. With all due respect to the likes of Lyon and an aging Barcelona squad, it will be a bit tougher to play a high line against the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. If the Parisian front line can exploit Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich’s side of the pitch, it could be a long night for the Bavarian defense.
Will Bayern Munich claim their sixth Champions League title, moving them into a tie for third all-time with Liverpool? Can PSG finally make it over the hump and win the big one? At this point, only time will tell.