fbl eur c1 draw scaled webp
| |

Why Has The Champions League Been So Disappointing?

In recent years, picking the winner of Europe’s elite competition has always been a topic of debate, but not as much this year. Realistically, the winner will come from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, or tournament favourites and reigning champions Manchester City. Not only are there holes to pick in the majority of the teams left in the competition, but in previous years, you felt there could’ve been up to 10 possible winners.

Arguably, the continent’s best teams are in Europe’s secondary competition, the Europa League. Undoubtedly, Liverpool, Bayer Leverkusen, and AC Milan would not be out of place in the Champions League.

In years gone by, when Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, & Manchester United were at the peak of their powers, the round of 16 draw would almost certainly pair two heavyweights against each other. It feels like this year’s competition has been anticlimactic so far, and until the quarter-final draw has been made, the possibility of a close match is slim.

Champions League: Away Goal Change

In June 2021, UEFA abolished the away goals rule, starting with the 2021/22 season. It may have been a good idea at the time, but in hindsight, taking away the away goal rule has altered the way managers and players approach ties. With the knowledge that away goals would serve as a potential tiebreaker, away from home teams in theory had something to gain by coming out of their shell and taking more chances, presumably leading to more open matches. It is fair to say that home advantage is no longer as significant as it once was.

At first, the rule was popular amongst the majority of football fans as it put increased pressure on the home team to try and not concede and, on the other hand, provided the away side with a chance to steal a victory, leading to a more open match, you would think. Unfortunately, this has not been the case so far this season. Only one out of the eight last 16 ties has had over 2.5 goals, and only half of the away teams have managed to register a goal.

See also  Manchester United: The Story Of Injuries This Season

There have been so many brilliant two-legged ties in Europe’s premier competition over the years, and this rule was a massive factor in adding the jeopardy teams felt at the possibility of conceding away from home.

Some examples of the brilliant European nights throughout the years.

Chelsea 4-2 Barcelona, 2004/05 Last 16

A last 16 tie to remember! Barcelona were 2-1 up going into the 2nd leg at Stamford Bridge.

With talisman Didier Drogba suspended, Chelsea made a fine start in the return leg, as Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard, and Damien Duff sent them 3-0 up after 20 minutes. Ronaldinho pulled one back from the penalty spot 10 minutes later, before the Brazilian really showed his class by getting his second of the night when Barca needed it most.

At that stage, Chelsea trailed on away goals, but a John Terry header sent the Blues through before chaos ensued with a Barça tunnel scrap after a hot-tempered pair of legs.

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, 2008/09 Quarter Final

In the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool secured a 1-3 victory, putting them in a pole position going into the second leg.

In the second leg, Chelsea got off to a strong start, with goals from Didier Drogba and Alex putting them 2-0 ahead on the night and levelling the tie 3-3 on aggregate after half an hour’s play. Liverpool managed to pull a goal back before halftime through a strike from Fabio Aurelio, keeping the tie finely balanced.

After halftime, Liverpool equalised the match with a goal from Xabi Alonso, putting them ahead on aggregate once again. However, Chelsea responded with a goal from Frank Lampard, levelling the tie 4-4 on aggregate.

The match seemed to be heading towards extra time, but in the 81st minute, Chelsea were awarded a penalty, which Frank Lampard converted to give them a 5-4 lead on aggregate.

Despite Liverpool’s efforts to find an equaliser, Chelsea held on to win the second leg 4-4 and advance to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

See also  The Future of Football: Multi-Club Organisations

This match is remembered for it’s high drama and goals, but the rivalry between the two English clubs was as intense as ever at this time. Will we see a 4-4 this season? Chances are slim.

Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain, 2016/17

Unbelievable seems like the only fitting way to describe one of the most memorable comebacks in UEFA Champions League history. In the first leg of the tie, PSG had won convincingly with a score line of 4-0, putting them in a commanding position going into the second leg at the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s home stadium. Barça were only playing for pride, really; however, in an astonishing turn of events, they managed to pull off an incredible comeback in the second leg. They won the match 6-1, making the aggregate score 6-5 in their favour, thus advancing to the quarterfinals.

Neymar was the standout player in that match, scoring two goals and assisting in two others, including the dramatic late goals that secured Barcelona’s victory. Sergi Roberto’s last-minute goal sealed the historic win and sent shockwaves throughout the football world.

Manchester City 4-3 Tottenham, 2018/19 Quarter final

In the first leg, Tottenham had defeated Manchester City 1-0 at home, putting them in a favourable position going into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The second leg began with both teams trading four goals equally in a chaotic opening 11 minutes, before Bernardo Silva put the hosts 3-2 up on the night midway through the first half. Fernando Llorente’s crucial 73rd-minute strike gave Spurs a vital away goal and put them 3-2 ahead on aggregate.

The drama was still to come, though, as Raheem Sterling thought he’d won it late on for City, but the VAR’s intervention sent the away fans into raptures.

Ajax 2-3 Tottenham, 2018/19 semi-final

A memorable night in the competition’s illustrious history, Tottenham deservedly fought back from 2-0 down to progress to their first ever Champions League final. Ajax had won the first leg 1-0 in north London and doubled their aggregate advantage early on in the return fixture, before Hakim Ziyech seemingly put the game beyond Spurs 10 minutes before half-time.

See also  EXCLUSIVE: Dan Ashworth Asks Newcastle For Permission To Speak To Manchester United

However, the Premier League side launched a remarkable comeback in the second half. Lucas Moura scored twice in quick succession, first in the 55th minute and then again in the 59th minute, bringing the score level to 2-2 on the night. Ajax eventually stabilised and looked to have ridden out the storm, only for Lucas to pop up with an astonishing decider in the sixth minute of stoppage time to send Spurs advancing through to the final on away goals.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona, 2018/19 Semi final

In the first leg of the tie, Barcelona defeated Liverpool 3-0 at Camp Nou, putting them in the driving seat going into the second leg.

Without key players Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, the Reds faced an uphill battle at Anfield. However, in one of the most memorable comebacks in Champions League history, Liverpool produced an incredible performance.

Divock Origi opened the scoring for Liverpool in the 7th minute to give them hope of a comeback. Half-time substitute, Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in quick succession, first in the 54th minute and then again in the 56th minute, levelling the aggregate score at 3-3.

Then, in one of the most dramatic moments of the match, Trent Alexander-Arnold took a quick corner kick, catching the Barcelona defence off guard, and Divock Origi capitalised on the opportunity to score Liverpool’s fourth goal in the 79th minute.

The 4-0 victory for Liverpool on the night meant they won the tie 4-3 on aggregate, advancing to the Champions League final.

It’s unlikely, but a tie that could be added to the list this season would be more than welcome.

About The Author

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply