2011-2012 UEFA Champions League interesting facts
Domestic champions: This season’s competition features 17 domestic league winners from last season, with Groups G (FC Porto, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Zenit St Petersburg, APOEL FC) and H (FC Barcelona, AC Milan, FC BATE Borisov, FC Viktoria Plzeň) both featuring four title holders and Group C three (Manchester United FC, FC Basel 1893, FC Oţelul Galaţi). Alongside the 17 champions, there are eight runners-up and five third-placed finishers. Arsenal FC and Villarreal CF are the only clubs in the group stage to have finished in fourth place in their domestic league championship.
Consecutive participations: This season, Manchester United FC have extended their consecutive participation in the UEFA Champions League to 16, a record in the competition. Real Madrid CF are making their 15th successive appearance, one ahead of Arsenal FC.
Knockout streak: In qualifying for the 2006/07 knockout stage, Real Madrid CF surpassed Manchester United FC’s record of nine consecutive seasons (which ended in 2005/06) in advancing past the group stage, a record the Spanish side stretched to 14 in 2010/11. Madrid have featured in the knockout phase every time since 1996/97, although their interest in the competition ended in the round of 16 for six consecutive seasons before they went on to the semi-finals in 2010/11.
European return: Of all 32 clubs, only FC Oţelul Galaţi did not participate in UEFA club competition during 2010/11. Past masters: Four clubs competing in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League were involved in the competition when it started during the 1992/93 season. Olympique de Marseille were champions, defeating AC Milan in the final, while PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Porto also featured in the group stage. In addition FC Barcelona and APOEL FC were knocked out in the two rounds preceding the group stage that marked the competition proper.
Long road: Four clubs have advanced to the group stage from the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round: APOEL FC, FC BATE Borisov, GNK Dinamo Zagreb and FC Viktoria Plzeň, while SL Benfica and KRC Genk won through from the third qualifying round.
Debutants: Five teams are making their first group stage appearance: Manchester City FC, SSC Napoli, FC Viktoria Plzeň, FC Oţelul Galaţi and Trabzonspor AŞ. A debutant has not won the competition since Juventus in 1995/96, who became the third club to achieve this following Marseille (1992/93, first UEFA Champions League final) and AFC Ajax (1994/95). Of the group stage debutants, Plzeň and Oţelul had never played a match in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup before this season.
Pedigree: Two of the former winners of the competition since it included a group stage element from the 1992/93 season are not participating in this season’s UEFA Champions League, namely Juventus (1995/96) and Liverpool FC (2004/05). Six of the last nine winners of the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals – FC Porto (2003, 2011), Valencia CF (2004), PFC CSKA Moskva (2005), FC Zenit St Petersburg (2008) and FC Shakhtar Donetsk (2009) – are involved in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.