Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Champions League Update

Here are the last ten finals in the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious championship in club soccer.  Whoever wins this tournament is the champion of Europe:

2010-11:  Barcelona (ESP) 3, Manchester Utd 1
2011-12:  Chelsea (ENG) 1, Bayern Munich 1 (Chelsea won on penalty kicks)
2012-13:  Bayern Munich (GER) 2, Borussia Dortmund 1
2013-14:  Real Madrid (ESP) 4, Atletico Madrid 1 (after extra time)
2014-15:  Barcelona (ESP) 3, Juventus 1
2015-16:  Real Madrid (ESP) 1, Atletico Madrid 1 (Real Madrid won on penalty kicks)
2016-17:  Real Madrid (ESP) 4, Juventus 1
2017-18:  Real Madrid (ESP) 3, Liverpool 1
2018-19:  Liverpool (ENG) 2, Tottenham Hotspur 0
2019-20:  Bayern Munich (GER) 1, Paris Saint-Germain 0

Here's the key point to remember between the 2004-05 season, and the 2011-12 season, teams from England reached the final seven times in eight years.  That was obviously intolerable to the folks in Europe, so they convinced themselves that the English clubs had an unfair advantage because their owners were putting huge amounts of money into their clubs.  So they changed the rules making sure that teams would have to rely primarily on money that they generated from soccer.

Well, everyone understands that in Europe, there are three giant clubs that are in a much stronger position to take advantage of that rule than anyone else:  Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate Spanish soccer, and Bayern Munich dominates Germany.  No other club can approach those three in terms of soccer revenue.  According to Deloitte, here are the 10 richest clubs in the world:

1.  Barcelona (ESP):  €715.1 million
2.  Real Madrid (ESP):  €714.9 million
3.  Bayern Munich (GER):  €634.1 million
4.  Manchester Utd (ENG):  €580.4 million
5.  Liverpool (ENG):  €558.6 million
6.  Manchester City (ENG):  €549.2 million
7.  Paris Saint-Germain (FRA):  €540.6 million
8.  Chelsea (ENG):  €469.7 million
9.  Tottenham Hotspur (ENG):  €445.7 million
10.  Juventus (ITA):  €397.9 million

Now with the rules as they are, there's just not much anyone can do other than to assume that most of the time, the title is going to one of the top three clubs.  And in fact, since 2013 they've won every title but one.  I have no idea why this type of dynasty-driven sports competition is so popular in Europe, but honestly this appears to be what they prefer.  They certainly don't give underdogs much of a chance.

So my interest in club soccer has waned significantly since the new rule was added, but they just completed the Round of 16 in the 2020-21 Champions' League.  These were two-leg matches, with the winner being decided by the most total goals.  In the event of a tie, the team with the most away goals is the winner.  If that doesn't work, they go into extra time.  If they are still tied after extra time, the team with the most away goals is the winner.  And if that doesn't work they use penalty kicks.  OK, here we go (team hosting the second game listed first):

Manchester City (ENG) 4 - 0 Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)
Bayern Munich (GER) 6 - 2 Lazio (ITA)
Chelsea (ENG) 3 - 0 Atletico Madrid (GER)
Liverpool (ENG) 4 - 0 RB Leipzig (GER)
Juventus (ITA) 4 - 4 Porto (POR) (away goals after extra time)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 5 - 2 Barcelona (ESP)
Borussia Dortmund (GER) 5 - 4 Sevilla (ESP)
Real Madrid (ESP) 4 - 1 Atalanta (ITA)

The big drama here was Juventus -- led by Cristiano Ronaldo -- going out in stunning fashion to the underdogs from Portugal.  It's also surprising to see Barcelona not making the last eight, but at least they lost to another big club.

The draw for the quarter-finals will take place Friday morning.  The quarter-final matches should be really good.


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