The UEFA Champions League, known simply as the Champions League, is an annual continental club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champion (and, for some nations, one or more runners-up) of each UEFA national association. Introduced in 1992, the competition replaced the European Champion Clubs' Cup, or simply European Cup, which had run since 1955, adding a group stage to the competition and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries. The pre-1992 competition was initially a straight knockout tournament open only to the champion club of each country. During the 1990s, the format was expanded, incorporating a round-robin group stage to include clubs that finished runner-up of some nation's top level league. While most of Europe's national leagues can still only enter their national league champion, Europe's strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams for the competition, and will provide up to five teams from the 2015–16 season onwards.[5 Clubs that finish next-in-line in each nation's top level league, having not qualified for the UEFA Champions League competition, may be eligible for the next level UEFA Europa League competition.
Manchester City vs Barcelona report: Lionel Messi's late penalty blunder keeps City hanging on after Luis Suarez's earlier double, still City with a loss to Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of Champions League. Perhaps the most dispiriting part for Manchester City came from that unmistakable feeling that, if anything, the gulf has widened. They have suffered plenty of times in this competition but has there ever been a time when the imbalance of talent has felt so extreme and they have been so grateful to be spared an even more harrowing ordeal? Barcelona did not just out play them, they emphatically put them in their place during that opening 45 minutes when Luis Suarez scored twice, Dani Alves struck the crossbar, Lionel Messi nutmegged David Silva and Manuel Pellegrini’s team stumbled to the interval like a side in need of smelling salts rather than half-time oranges. Sergio Agueros goal midway through the second half does change the complexion slightly before the sides renew acquaintances in this Champions League last 16 fixture on 18 March but Cities momentum was quickly lost after Gael Clichys second yellow card and the return leg would have felt like a formality had Messi put away that penalty in the third minute of stoppage time. 11-v-11, Barca had frequently toyed with City; 11-against-10, the game had descended into damage-limitation mode for City by the time Pablo Zabaletas trip on Messi left the four-times Ballon dor winner with the chance to give the score a more accurate reflection. Joe Hart kept out the shot and Barcas tormentor-in-chief headed the rebound wide of an exposed goal.