It is always interesting to see which nations dominate the Champions League because as sure as the sky is blue there will always be one country that stands out from the rest. When I got into football it was Spain and Italy with English sides nowhere near a place in the semi-final, let alone winning the European Cup.
However, time has moved on and so has the balance of power, which is now so much in favour of the Premier League sides that the Champions League may have become a little predictable. English sides no longer fear anyone, expect Barcelona, and will normally go into any European clash as the favourites. The last five finals have been contested by at least one English side, much to the disgust of Michel Platini.
England has dominated the Champions League for the last five years but next year could be different. Without going too much off track the rise in value of the Euro and the increase in tax in the UK has meant English football is no longer so attractive. It seems like now is the time for Barcelona and Real Madrid to begin dominating the European scene once again.
New Real president Florentino Perez has certainly come in and shaken things up with his 300million Euros to spend and seems to have swung the balance of power away from England. Now you have players like David Villa and Franck Ribery no longer interested in playing in the Premier League. Instead everyone wants to be a part of the Spanish renaissance which is currently taking place.
The Premier League remains the richest league in the world but is no longer flavour of the month. This will be good news for Platini who has all but said he is sick of seeing three English sides in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
So could next season be the birth of a new ruling party? Well quite possibly, although it will probably only be Real Madrid and Barcelona flying the Spanish flag with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid still too underfunded to compete and truly upset the football odds. English sides will still be very strong and I expect to see all four, if Arsenal qualify, make it through the group stages. However, how far they get beyond that will depend on how strong sides from other European nations become. If AC Milan use the money they made from Kaka wisely who knows where they could finish up while Inter Milan certainly weren’t pushovers last season.
The Champions League is all about beating the best sides from across Europe and while it is exciting to see Manchester United versus Arsenal semi-finals it just doesn’t hold the same appeal as one big side going head-to-head with another from across Europe. Let’s hope that Spain and Italy claim back some of the momentum from the Premier League sides as we hope for another terrific season of Champions League action.
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