For those of you who don't follow football, the UEFA Champions League is a competition that crowns the club champions of Europe. When it was first devised in the 1950s (as simply The European Cup) it literally was a "Champions League" -- only those clubs that had won the championship of their domestic league the previous season were allowed to participate. Since then, the competition -- which runs concurrently with the domestic leagues -- has been expanded to include more clubs, most of whom come from the larger and stronger countries.
Of the 51 winners of the Euro Cup/Champions League, 33 have hailed from the "Big 3:" England, Italy, and Spain. Not surprisingly, all three of these countries send up to four clubs into the Champions League. Despite this, the champions of the smaller nations also are invited; however they are, for the most part, eliminated before the group phase (the "real" start of the competition) begins.
The group phase of the 2008-09 Champions League begins later this week. In addition to the usual suspects, (Chelsea, ManU, Fc Barcelona, Inter, et al) for the first time teams from Belarus and Cyprus have advanced to the group phase.
For those of us in the States, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic will be showing games this Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. If you have a chance, take a late lunch and check 'em out.
2007/08 Panini UEFA Champions League is 250 cards, followed up with a 100-card Update set. This packet is from the Update series, which was released only seven weeks after the first. It features players who changed teams, or "transferred," before the start of group play.