07 Mar Champions League in Barcelona
The Champions League is at its most exciting. We’re sure there are a few of you who are fed up of your friends meeting up to watch football and not understanding what’s going on. Well this week we’ve got the solution! A crash course in all things football!
First off, what exactly is the Champions League? Well, it’s probably one of the biggest leagues of all. It all started back in 1955 and is governed by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). There are two main parts to it; the qualification stages and then the main competition itself. Put simply, the top teams from various different leagues automatically qualify for the group stages, whereas other teams have to qualify their way in.
How does the main stage work? It is similar to the beginning stages of the world cup. There are 8 groups each formed of 4 teams. These teams are paired up through a draw. However, teams from the same country cannot be paired into the same group at this stage. Each team must play another team from their group once. They are awarded points depending on the outcome of the game. (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss). At the end of this stage, the two top teams from each group advance to the knockout stage (16 teams).
The knockout stage, this is where the fun begins! There are 16 teams left, and 4 parts; the first knockout round, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. Each team plays each other twice, one home and one away game. The only exception to this is the final game, which is only one!
After the first knockout round is complete, the remaining teams are drawn again to see who they pair up with for the quarter-finals. At this stage there are no restriction on who can play who.
The final is played in a pre-determined city which is chosen before the tournament starts. Not much to it really, the two qualifying teams play and whoever wins the match has won the tournament!
But what about all the technicalities of football? Let’s start with the simple things; the length of a football match is 90 minutes, played in two halves of 45 minutes. Additional minutes may be given at the end of each half to make up for time lost during the match. This should not be confused with overtime which is played in some competitions if a winner has not yet been decided after the regulation time.
Offside, this is pretty simple to follow. A player is in an offside position if there are fewer than two defenders (including the goalie) between him and the goal line. A violation of this rule occurs if he is in that position and the ball is played to him. If this happens then a free kick is awarded to the opposition.
There are different types of fouls and misconducts in football, the most common are: kicking, tripping, pushing or charging at another player recklessly. A foul happens when a player: makes a tackle but hits the player before the ball; deliberately handles the ball; or if he uses excessive force in defending a member of the opposing team. A free-kick restarts a play after a foul and is usually taken from the spot where the violation was committed. A free-kick can either be “direct”, in which the kicker may score directly, or “indirect”, in which another player must touch the ball before a goal can be scored. A penalty kick is awarded if a defender commits a foul inside his own penalty area. The kick is taken from the penalty spot and all the players (except the kicker and the goalkeeper!) must be outside the penalty area and penalty arc.
Now that you know the basic ground-rules you have no excuse to stay at home! Join us at Flaherty’s Irish Bar, the best place to enjoy the Champions League in Barcelona! There’s always a great crowd in and if you have any doubts there’s always someone who’s willing to lend a helping hand over a cold pint!