The UEFA Champions League returns this week for another season of drama, but what has changed since last season? Here are 7 interesting facts about the 2015/16 campaign.
7 facts about the new season
The clash between Europe’s best turns 61 this year, and the Champions League, as it has been known since 1992 has been running for 24 of those. 32 teams will test their might in the first round of the group stages on September 15-16 as they battle it out for the biggest title in European club competition.
But what will be so special about this season’s tournament? Won’t it just be the big guns like Barca, Bayern, Real Madrid and Chelsea fighting for the European crown? While that may be true, we have found seven other little facts that will make it one of the best in a long time.
Breaking records on a weekly basis
The superstars are what get the crowds off their seats. Two of these stars more so than others: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Both of these players start the season as record-holders in the tournament and it is fair to say that they won’t be on 77 goals come May.
IKER - The one and only
The battle for the most appearances in the Champions League will be a one-sided affair this time. Porto’s new number 1 Iker Casillas (150 appearances) looks pretty certain to beat Xavi’s record of 151. Unless his new club Al-Sadd Sports decides to buy a place in the tournament that is…
Off to Astana
UEFA are clearly showing the EU what Europe really means. Thanks to FC Astana, teams will now have to travel distances of over 6,000 km to face the Kazakhstani champions. The big questions is, what will the clubs do with all those bonus flyer miles they are about to rack up? At least the players will have plenty of time to work on their Instagram selfies…
Liga de Campeones
Never before have five teams from the same country taken part in the tournament, but this will change this season thanks to Europa League winners Sevilla. ⅙ of all teams in the competition will be from Spain this year. To put that into relation – Austria and Switzerland combined have only managed to get 4 teams into the group stages since 1992!
Tutto lo stadio
Milan will host the final for the 4th time (1965, 1970 and 2001) in the history of the Champions League. It will, however, be the first time that neither Milan club is involved. Both Inter and AC failed to qualify for the tournament, but at least the Italians will get to see one top-class game this season.
Zlatan’s coming home
Cancel all your plans and keep the evening free. On November 25, Zlatan will return home to face Malmö FF, the club where it all began. He left as a young rebel in 2001 and returns to the club 14 years later as a, well, older rebel. Will it be a happy return or will his old club put a dent in PSG’s Champions League ambitions?
Home away from home
Two teams will be playing all their games away from home this season, but not because they have such great away form. Shakhtar Donetsk will play their games in Lviv while Maccabi Tel Aviv have moved their games to the arena in Haifa. So which team’s fans have to stay longer after the game? The away fans or the away away fans?