The rules of soccer don’t change all too much, so when they do, you know it’s for good reason. The pandemic altered most aspects of our lives, but it also transformed the landscape of the soccer world, too.
Now, the ways subs work in the League has changed (perhaps forever), and we’re here to tell you how, why, and celebrate the moments’ subs changed the game forever.
What Is the Champions League?
The Champions League is one of the most prestigious and celebrated soccer tournaments in the world. The Champions League, or UEFA Champions League, is a unique competition where 32 of the best clubs in Europe come to play against each other.
These teams will play in five rounds, and whoever comes out in first place is crowned the best team in European soccer. The UEFA Champions League is the most talked about tournament in soccer, other than the world cup.
How Do Teams Qualify For the Champions League?
Typically, the top four teams from Spain, Italy, Germany, and England will qualify for the Champions League, but the rules vary between countries.
For example, in England, the top three teams will automatically qualify, but the fourth team will have to compete in a qualifier. In France, the top two teams will qualify and the third will play a qualifier, and Spain, Italy, and Germany have the same rules as England.
Usually, in England, the top four teams to qualify in the Premier League will automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The Premier League is at the height of the English soccer league system, and 20 teams compete for the top spot.
Qualifying for the Champions League is complex and based on the rules and regulations set out by the top bodies in soccer. This is just a snapshot of the most basic ways that the European teams can qualify for the league.
How Many Subs Are In the Champions League?
Typically, each team is allowed to list up to three substitutions in the Champions League. Substitute players are brought onto the field in exchange for an active player, and if a player is substituted, they’ll no longer be able to come back onto the field.
Substitutions aren’t available specifically for injuries, meaning if a player becomes injured after the three substitutions have been made, the team will have to continue playing with one less player.
Substitutes are used frequently, even in the Champions League. In fact, it’s rare for a substitute to NOT be used during a game. This wasn’t always the case, though.
For example, in English football, only one substitute was allowed until 1995, and the sub was only used for limited reasons, but usually in the event of an injury.
How Covid Made UEFA Change Its Rules
Although three substitutes have been the Champions League standard for years, Covid led UEFA to change its rules.
In the 2020 season, UEFA first allowed its qualifying teams to make up to five substitutions. The decision followed an extensive meeting in Budapest and applied to the 2020 Champions League, Europa League, Nations League, and the Women’s Champions League.
The pandemic placed unseen demands on the teams, and UEFA claimed that a new five-subs regulation would help teams cope with the strain, and manage their busy match calendars.
As the pandemic continued, teams were then allowed to make up to six substitutions in a Champions League match throughout 2021 and 2022. The rule is expected to be made permanent.
How Many Substitutions Are Allowed At The World Cup?
The Champions League is one of the most talked about soccer tournaments in the world, but of course, the World Cup steals the top spot.
During a World Cup Match, coaches are now allowed to implement the five-sub rule, too. Five substitutions can be made per game, compared to the three substitutions we saw pre-covid.
During World Cup Matches, managers will have three separate occasions during the game where they can implement substitutes – this doesn’t include half[-time. Following these regulations will prevent any time-wasting towards the final stages of the contest.
The number of substitutes allowed on the beach has also increased from 12-15, and up to 26 people can sit ‘on the bench’, including an additional 11 team officials. One of these officials must be a team doctor.
The Most Famous Subs And Their Stories
Although substitutions are now a common occurrence in soccer, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, the first-ever English substitute didn’t hit the field until 1965.
Keith Peacock was the first player to ever step foot on the field as a sub, just 11 minutes into a game against a rival team the Bolton Wanderers when his fellow teammate Mike Rose was injured and required a replacement.
Since 1965, substitutes in English soccer (and indeed around the world) have become frequent additions to the team, and some of their stories have truly changed the face of the game.
Thierry Henry rarely plays as a permanent player for his national team, but the player is still a highly sought-after super-sub, and he’s scored some impressive goals during his sub-era.
Thierry Henry has scored 228 goals in his career, held the record for the fastest speeds ever seen in a major league, and contributed 14 goals and 7 assists during his time as a sub for Everton only (see also ‘What Is An Assist In Soccer?‘).
In the 2018 Champions League, Real Madrid’s manager replaced Isco for Gareth Bale when the team was level with its Liverpool rivals an hour into the game.
Bale went on to score one of the finest goals ever seen in a Champions League final – as the ball arrived behind him, Bale scored an exceptional goal with his back toward the goal, which many admirers hale as a pure moment of genius.
Although three substitutions were the gold standard for years, Covid has pushed UEFA to create the five subs per match rule which not only applies to the Champions League but also now to the World Cup and other major games.
This rule is expected to stay in place permanently.