All English Final Champions League
Champions League: All English Final 2020?
Champions League – All English Final?
Last season, the Champions League saw its first all-English final since Manchester United saw off Chelsea in Moscow in 2008. It was the first all-English final in the competition and only the third time that the tournament’s showpiece had been contested between two teams of the same nationality, the first coming in 2000 when Real Madrid beat Valencia and the second in 2003 when AC Milan defeated Juventus. 2007/20089 was part of an English era of dominance in the competition in which, of seven finals, there were six in which an English team competed.
After that, however, the baton was seemingly passed to Spain. Since 2009, the Champions League has been won by either Barcelona or Real Madrid six times, with two all-Spanish finals in that time. But in the past two seasons, there have been signs that the Spanish dynasty is beginning to come to an end, perhaps in response to the aging of the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and the other icons of the Spanish game which defined what is the greatest era in the nation’s footballing history, both domestically and, of course, on the international stage too. In the last two season, the now six-time European champions Liverpool have competed in both finals, one in Kyiv and one in Madrid. In the Ukrainian capital, Jürgen Klopp’s men were unsuccessful; they were beaten by Real Madrid after two calamitous goalkeeping errors by Loris Karius and arguably the greatest Champions League goal of all time from Gareth Bale. In Madrid, however, the Red Men were victorious, they beat Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 after a poor game. Does this mean that the English game is on the rise amongst Europe’s elite once more?
All the signs from the Premier League seem to point in this direction. Premier League clubs have outspent or at least matched clubs from Spain, Italy, France and Germany over the past decade and this has brought in some of the world’s most talented players. While many still see Real Madrid and Barcelona as the end goal, the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool are now capable of attracting - and,perhaps more importantly, keeping hold of - the best players in world football. Revolutionary managers like Jürgen Klopp and Guardiola who bring with them a unique brand of football have ushered in an age of tactical astuteness which has not been seen in England for many years. English football has traditionally been very conservative and distrustful of innovators. But, after decades of disappointment on the international stage, the nation is coming to terms with the fact that, if you want to succeed in football, you have to be ahead of, rather than behind, the curve.
So what of the chances of history repeating itself and this year’s final in Istanbul being another all-English occasion? Well, Manchester City are probably the best team in Europe; they will doubtless be hurting after their dramatic exit from the competition in the quarter-finals against Tottenham last year - the second year running they had been knocked out by Englisgh opposition following their exit at the same stage to Liverpool in 2017/2018. There is no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s priority is the Champions League this time around, and that is a frightening prospect for the rest of Europe.
As for Liverpool, they are one of the best’ cup teams’ around. Having been, over the course of the past two seasons, far and away the best team in the Champions League, they will be confident they can outperform anyone, once again. However, unlike their counterparts in Manchester, Liverpool’s focus is the Premier League this season, having not won the competition for almost 30 years. While the Champions League will always be important to them, they would swap it for the top domestic prize in an instant.
What about the other two English teams, Tottenham and Chelsea? As for Chelsea, they do not look in a strong enough position to compete amongst the best in Europe just yet. Like Liverpool, they will be prioritizing the league; but, unlike Liverpool, their sights are set merely on the top four rather than the main prize itself - the transfer ban has affected them significantly. Spurs have strengthened during the summer (for the first time in a long time), but there are rumours that not all is well in their camp. Manager Mauricio Pochettino is unhappy with the club and, following their miraculous route to the final last year, may feel he has done all he can for the club. Despite this, however, his Spurs team have proved people wrong time and time again. Don’t write them off completely, just yet.