Category: Champions League

Champions League 2016/2017: Another historical edition

Champions League 2016/2017: Another historical edition

Real Madrid put icing on the cake on yet another successful season, with the Spanish giants outclassing Juventus in the final of the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo won the elite competition for the fourth time in his career and he finished the 2016/2017 Champions League campaign as top scorer.

Over the years La Liga clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have established themselves as the dominant forces in the Champions League. The Spaniards lifted their fourth consecutive Champions League trophy, with Real Madrid winning the elite competition for the third time in four years. Los Blancos failed to impress in the group stages of the 2016/2017 Champions League campaign, with the team finishing the process in second place in Group F, two points behind Borussia Dortmund.

As a result, Zinedine Zidane’s troops faced Napoli in the last 16 and thanks to a 6-2 aggregate win over the Partenopei they set up a meeting with Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace for Real Madrid in a 2-1 win over FCB in Munich, but los Blancos experienced all sorts of problems at the back in the return leg and, as a result, the game went into extra time. The Spaniards scored three goals in the overtime, but Bayern Munich chiefs claim that referees, who made a lot of mistakes during the game, knocked the Bundesliga side out of the Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory over Bayern Munich, but he did not stop there. The Portuguese superstar led Real Madrid to a routine victory over Atletico Madrid with three goals (3-0) and he helped los Blancos move one step closer to booking their place in the Champions League final. Despite suffering a 2-1 loss to Diego Simeone’s troops at Estadio Vicente Calderon, the reigning champions set up a meeting with Juventus in the title game.

CR7 was at his sharpest in the National Stadium clash as he scored two beautiful goals in the 4-1 victory over Juventus. The likes of Casemiro and Asensio found the net as well, with Mario Mandzukic scoring a consolation goal for the Bianconeri. Real Madrid clinched their 12th European Cup – “La Duodecima” and it seems as if the lack of experience in big games proved to be a huge problem for Max Allegri’s troops.

The curtain has fallen on yet another Champions League campaign. Real Madrid totally deserved to win the elite competition, but it seems as if Bayern Munich could have recorded a better result in the 2016/2017 campaign. Monaco were the surprise package last term as they eliminated the likes of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in the knockout stages on their way to the semis. Cristiano Ronaldo finished the season as the Champions League top scorer for the sixth time in his career, the Portuguese ace netted 12 goals in the elite competition, but many football experts believe that Monaco youngster Kylian Mbappe, who has been on Arsenal’s radar of late, marked the 2016/2017 season with terrific performances for les Rouges et Blancs.

 

Why do Champions League winners continue failing to defend their title?

Why do Champions League winners continue failing to defend their title?

The Champions League is considered the most prestigious football tournament in the world. The elite competition replaced the European Cup in 1992, but the Champions League winners have yet to defend their title. Real Madrid are eager to put an end to the negative trend, but it remains to be seen if they are capable of winning their second consecutive Champions League trophy.

Milan – the last back-to-back winners

Defending the Champions League trophy is pretty difficult, but it has to be noted that Milan managed to do so in 1990. After rolling over Steaua Bucharest in the 1988/1989 European Cup final, the Rossoneri defended their trophy thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Benfica in 1990. The Serie A outfit are the last team that clinched back-to-back titles in the elite competition, but that has a lot to do with its current format. Back then the reigning champions had to play a maximum of nine games as the tournament comprised of four knockout rounds (two legs) and a title game. Nowadays, the title holders need to play a total of 12 games if they are to advance to the Champions League final. Anyhow, the current format gives fans more joy as European clubs are drawn into eight groups of four teams and take on each other in a double-robin system.

Unsuccessful attempts

Several European clubs were in a position to defend their Champions League trophy. Ajax did well to beat Milan in the 1994/1995 Champions League final, with legendary attacker Patrick Kluivert scoring the winner for the Amsterdammers in the title game. Ajax made it to the final of the elite competition next season as well, but they were beaten by Juventus on penalties at Stadio Olimpico in the final.

Ajax, though, are not the only club that had a chance to defend their Champions League title. Manchester United defeated Chelsea in the 2007/2008 Champions League final in Moscow, but the Red Devils failed to win back-to-back trophies.. The Premier League giants faced Barcelona in the final of the elite competition next season, but Pep Guardiola’s men proved to be a big catch for the Old Trafford outfit in the title game. It is more than obvious that defending the Champions League trophy is easier said than done and one of the main reasons why the reigning champions continue failing to defend their title is tough competition.

Tough competition

Over the years Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have established themselves as the dominant forces in the Champions League. Premier League clubs have been struggling in the elite competition in recent years and it has been five years since an English club won the prestigious trophy. The English teams do not seem capable of matching Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but, on the other hand, the likes of PSG, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have been making great progress year by year.

Les Parisiens did remarkably well to crush Barcelona (4-0) at their Parc des Princes in the 2016/2017 Champions League knockout stages and it is more than obvious that Barca are not as strong nowadays as they were during Pep Guardiola’s spell at Camp Nou. Atletico Madrid lost two Champions League finals in last three seasons and, no doubt, coach Diego Simeone has turned Atletico Madrid into an European giant. Borussia Dortmund are also capable of making life difficult for title-chasing teams nowadays and they did well to make it to the 2012/2013 final. However, fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich proved to be a big catch for the Millionaires in the Wembley Stadium showdown.

 

Lack of motivation

A number of Champions League winners failed to defend their title due to the lack of motivation. It is well known that winning a trophy is a lot easier than defending it, but many European giants have different ambitions for various seasons. For example, Real Madrid won the Champions League last season and the team’s main goal for the 2016/2017 season is to regain the La Liga title. Los Blancos are on the right track to win the domestic trophy, but, no doubt, Zinedine Zidane will give his best to become the first coach in the history of the Champions League to win back-to-back trophies.

Good chance for Real Madrid

Real Madrid are the most successful team in the history of the Champions League (European Cup) as they have already clinched 11 trophies in the elite competition. During Franco’s era los Blancos won five consecutive European Cup trophies (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960) and they are now on a quest to become the first Champions League winner to defend their title. Seeing their fierce rivals Barcelona are on the verge of suffering elimination in the knockout stages of the competition, a number of football predictions are pointing towards Real Madrid to win the prestigious title in the 2016/2017 season.

Zinedine Zidane’s troops defeated Atletico Madrid on penalties in the 2015/2016 final and they are on the verge of booking their place in the quarter-finals of the competition this term. Real Madrid recorded a come-from-behind win over Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 and they are widely expected to defend their lead in the second leg at Stadio San Paolo. As I have already mentioned, Barca are likely to be eliminated by PSG in the knockout stages, meaning that Bayern Munich should be considered as Real Madrid’s main rivals, speaking of the Champions League trophy. Given the quality of Zinedine Zidane’s team, it is no surprise many football predictions go in Real Madrid’s favour.

Anyhow, the Champions League is not considered the greatest club competition for nothing. A number of top-class players are part of each title-chasing team and, as a result, it has been 27 years since the last Champions League winner managed to defend its trophy. Many football predictions suggest that Real Madrid are going to win back-to-back titles, but it remains to be seen if the reigning champions are capable of breaking the spell.