The UEFA Super Cup and the Champions League are two prestigious European competitions that are held by UEFA.
But how do they differ from one another?
Here’s what you need to know:
- 1 The difference between UEFA Super Cup and Champions League
- 2 Number of teams
- 3 Competition format
- 4 Extra time and penalties
- 5 Presence of double-legged ties
- 6 Number of matches played
- 7 Squad Size
- 8 Frequency and duration of the competition
- 9 Qualification for the competition
- 10 Rewards for winning the competition
- 11 Verdict
- 12 Conclusion
The difference between UEFA Super Cup and Champions League
The UEFA Super Cup is a single-match final played between the champions of two UEFA club competitions from the previous season. Meanwhile, the Champions League consists of a group stage and a knockout round and involves the top 32 clubs from the various European Leagues.
Here is an in-depth explanation of these differences:
Number of teams
The Super Cup is contested by only two teams, the winners of the UEFA Europa League and the winners of the UEFA Champions League from the previous season.
On the other hand, the Champions League is played by 32 of the best teams from across Europe, and the winners get to compete in the Super Cup.
However, this only measures the number of teams in the main competition. There will be quite a few teams that were involved in the qualifying rounds which do not make the cut.
The UEFA Super Cup is a single-game final, and the champions are decided at the end of the match
Meanwhile, the Champions League consists of a group stage and a knockout phase. There are 8 groups, each consisting of 4 teams. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout stages.
The 3rd placed team in the group becomes eligible to play in the Europa League knockout rounds.
If you’re wondering what happens when two teams finish on the same amount of points, you can check out this guide here for more information.
Extra time and penalties
When a UEFA Supercup game ends in a tie, the game goes to 30 minutes of extra time. A deadlock after extra time will then lead to a penalty shootout.
Here was the UEFA Super Cup in 2021 which ended in a penalty shootout.
For the Champions League, the group stages are decided on a points format, so there is no extra time until the knockout rounds. A knockout round tie will only go to extra time if the aggregate score is tied after the second leg.
The presence of extra time and penalties will become more prevalent in the Champions League now that UEFA has abolished the away goals rule.
Presence of double-legged ties
The UEFA Super Cup is played as a single match, and there are no replays or second legs.
The Champions League uses double-legged ties in the knockouts from the Round of 16 to the Semi-final. However, the final is a single match.
Double-legged ties are put in place, so each team plays one match in front of their home fans at their own stadium. This eliminates any unfair advantage to either side.
The UEFA Europa League is another competition that contains two-legged knockout rounds.
The venue for the Champions League final is determined before the tournament begins, meaning the final is often played at a neutral stadium.
Number of matches played
For the Champions League, the number of matches you play depends on how far you go in the competition. Here are the number of matches you’ll play in total if you reach the final of the competition from the group stages:
|Round||Number of matches|
|Round of 16||2|
As such, the maximum number of games that you can play in the Champions League is 13.
Meanwhile, the UEFA Super Cup only consists of a single game, which is similar to the FA Community Shield and the Spanish Super Cup (Supercopa de España).
UEFA Super Cup teams can name a 23-man squad for the game. This includes 11 starters and 12 bench players.
For the Champions League, teams can name two squad lists for the competition. The first list (list A) has a maximum of 25 players, where 8 of them have to be homegrown players.
List B consists of players born on or after 1 Jan 1995 and other requirements.
You can read more about the homegrown rule in the Champions League and other competitions in my guide here.
Frequency and duration of the competition
Both competitions are played every year. The Super Cup final is played every August and is a curtain-raiser to the new European football season.
Meanwhile, the Champions League runs for around 11 months from June-May every year. The first few matches in June are preliminary qualifying rounds, and the group stages start in September.
Qualification for the competition
To qualify for the Super Cup, your team needs to win the Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. Meanwhile, in the Champions League, some clubs automatically qualify for the competition either through league performance or by winning the previous season’s Champions League or Europa League.
UEFA’s member nations are given a slot for the Champions League through their domestic league. How many slots each country gets depends on UEFA Coefficient rankings. Here is the distribution for some of Europe’s top leagues:
|Premier League||Top 4 teams|
|Serie A||Top 4 teams|
|Bundesliga||Top 4 teams|
|Ligue 1||Top 3 teams|
|Eredivisie||Top 2 teams|
|La Liga||Top 4 teams|
|Primeira Liga||Top 2 teams|
Rewards for winning the competition
The reward for winning the UEFA Super Cup is the Super Cup trophy, as well as, €5,000,000 cash prize.
For the Champions League, the winners will automatically qualify for the next season’s tournament. Even if the team does not qualify through their position in the domestic league, they will still get to play in the Champions League.
For example, Chelsea finished 6th in the Premier League in 2012, but qualified for the 2012/12 UCL by winning the 2012 UCL final.
The Champions League winners are crowned the European champions, and they will participate in the FIFA Club World Cup to represent Europe in the competition.
They will collect a €4.5M prize money in addition to €15M for making the final.
Here is a summary of the comparison between the UEFA Super Cup and the Champions League:
|UEFA Super Cup||Champions League|
|Number of teams||2||32|
|Format of |
|Single match final||Group stage |
|Extra time |
|Yes||Round of 16 |
|No||Round of 16 |
|1||Maximum of 13|
|Squad size||23||25 + List B|
|Duration||One-time match||11 months|
|Winners of Champions League |
and Europa League
|League performance + winners of |
Europa League and Champions League
Both the UEFA Super Cup and the Champions League are two of UEFA’s most prestigious competitions.
However, they are 2 separate tournaments, with many differences in the number of teams and the time period of the competition.
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