The final of the biggest club competition in world soccer is expected to come back to Britain for the third time in six years, however, not to the capital.
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium is the current favourite to host the 2017 final with UEFA likely to announce their decision in Prague on the 29th June.
If the decision were to go in the way of the Welsh national venue, it would give English clubs another stab at winning the competition on home soil and to catch up with Spanish and German clubs in European competition.
This would be hugely beneficial to the Premier League after a transitional period where England’s dominant club, Manchester United, failed to make the Champions League for the first time since 1995/96. In the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons no English team progressed beyond the last 16; a dismal portrayal of English football in comparison to the 1999-2011 era, where at least two Premier League teams reached the quarter finals in 10 out of the 12 seasons.
The last Champions League outing at Wembley in 2013 was solely represented by Germany, as Bayern Munich triumphed over Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. Two years earlier, Man United made their way to the capital to face Barcelona, but were outclassed by Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable Barcelona.
European football has been dominated by the Spaniards in recent times and they have proved a giant obstacle for English clubs. Despite winning two of the last four Premier League titles, big spenders Manchester have consistently struggled in Europe and became the seventh English club to be knocked out by Real Madrid or Barcelona in the last six years.
Although winning two Champions Leagues and appearing in finals, Premier League teams seem to come unstuck against the Goliath figures of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. When you look at the domestic leagues however, the Premier League has higher calibre of competition, fiercer rivalries and a greater portfolio of players compared to others in Europe; so why do they struggle when reaching the knockout stages after the turn of the year?
A difference between the leagues is the winter break applied by other countries. When the February knockout stage comes around, other European big guns come fresh from a two week break. English teams have come straight out the back of a gruelling Christmas fixture list, playing two games over three days in some cases.
Cardiff’s 74,500-seater stadium missed out on its bid to host Euro 2020 matches, however has proven it can host these momentous occasions as it did whilst hosting the Football League play-offs and FA Cup finals between 2001 and 2006.
This year’s final was held in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, while next year’s final will be held at the San Siro in Milan. English teams must show a massive improvement in next year’s competition in order start dominating the continent as they did in the 2000’s, and withstand any chance of glory in Cardiff by the time 2017 comes around.
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