On Saturday, the world of football will be attracted to Kiev as Real Madrid seek their third consecutive elite title in Liverpool's crown in the Champions League final. An occasion that could be as historic in the Spanish capital as the late 1950s or prove to be as memorable as in the mid-2000s in Merseyside.
There is no doubt that competition has great appeal for the mbades; They were given the opportunity to witness some of the best players in the world take on each other for the 'biggest club award'. of the continent. But at what cost does this sacrifice contribute to the rest of the sport? Is the Champions League, in fact, proving to be harmful to the domestic game?
42 points is the collective deficit between Real Madrid, Liverpool and their respective league winners, Barcelona and Manchester City, a substantial chasm, considering that one will be crowned as the "Kings of Europe" next weekend. In truth, that title is as reflective as saying that Chelsea beat Pep Guardiola's team in this campaign, as they lifted the FA Cup trophy under the Wembley stadium arch, or cited Portugal as the best team in Europe due to its Fall in glory at the European Championships in 2016.
The very concept of the word "league" is unfounded in itself. If the tournament was, in fact, a cycle of 38 games, since both participate in one week a week, it could be suggested that none would be in the situation in which they are currently preparing.
West Ham United, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Girona, Leganés and Espanyol are all parties that have taken points from their respective opponents during the course of the campaign; It is not exactly a list overflowing with European pedigree. And it is this inconsistency that highlights why, although one raises the cutlery towards the Ukrainian night sky on Saturday, neither of them can claim to be the true kings of Europe.
In the Soccer Cup, which in fact is what the Champions League is, luck plays as important a role as any other. If it is a decision of sanction of last minute granted to his favor in spite of appearing questionable, or an offside decision that is directed towards a side that has portrayed his ruthless nature in the past; Every 180 minutes during the last rounds must possess an air of good fortune for a particular side.
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However, it is not simply a label or an unfounded perception that causes the most important problem when it comes to the Champions League, but the influence of the tournament on a wider spectrum of national soccer.
Arsenal fans will tell you, the obsession of Stan Kroenke and Arsene Wenger for securing a place among the first four each year, thus ensuring high level European football, regardless of the sacrifices made elsewhere, has not created nothing but monotonous monotony in the Emirates Stadium, finally proved to be the final catalyst in the disappearance of the French as their participation dried up.
Antonio Conte; another whose position in the Premier League is threatened due, among other things, to Chelsea's inability to retain Champions League football for another season, despite achieving his eighth FA Cup win: the fifth of the era Roman Abramovich.
But perhaps more Significantly is the current turmoil at Camp Nou, a stadium that is home to both the league title and the Copa del Rey for another term. Incredibly, despite Ernesto Valverde guiding Barcelona to an almost unbeaten campaign, in a season where, after the humiliation of the Spanish Super Cup in August at Real Madrid, his followers had conceded the silverware of the league, a significant part of the Catalans wants change.
"If you're a Barcelona fan and I still support Valverde, I do not have words for you and you're a disgrace."
"I have been defending Valverde against the many Barça fans who are asking for his head all season, but now he has crossed that line, he sacrificed the Champions League for an undefeated season and now he has none. It was a disaster. "
So, what is the foundation of this unhappiness? Simply, the lack of success of the Champions League.
Although Blaugrana secured its seventh league title in a decade and lifted the Copa del Rey for the fourth year in a row, a competition that seems to have a total and final stigma, however, requires less skill than a 38-season of games, and possibly as much as any other elimination tournament – causes an unhealthy obsession with myopia and ridicule.
Something disconcerting, it would not be a big surprise to see Valverde leave Barça this summer; whether it is at the will of the Spaniard or not, it would matter little. The perception that a European top executive can not be successful is almost disgusting, as always remembered during Guardiola's time with Bayern Munich and could also be the case at Etihad Stadium in the future.
But, undoubtedly, the most serious aspect of all is the fixation of the elite of the Champions League, and the demand that comes in parallel is slowly taking football to a continental event throughout the year, putting an end to effective to the domestic game. . If that turns out to be the case in the short term it is unlikely, but inevitably, that is where this road ends, and it may already be too late to deviate from the final destination.