Five key lessons from UEFA Champions League this season
Photo Credit: The Mirror
By Israel Igiri
The 2017/2018 campaign has come and gone, but it will be remembered for so much for its dramatic feature. It was a season that witnessed a harvest of goals not to forget Liverpool’s revival and Roma’s comeback. It was certainly a season that would be remembered for years to come. And while it is no longer news that Real Madrid have been crowned champions of Europe for an unprecedented 13th time, here are five things we learnt from the competition this season.
Champions League in Madrid’s DNA
The Los Blancos may have had a disappointing season domestically, but in Europe’s Premier Club Competition, they have again showed that the title is their birth right. They became the first side to win the title three times in a row when they defeated Liverpool in Kyiv last Saturday. This team knows how to come to the party when it matters most and their record of four CL triumph in the last five years is one that is unlikely to be matched for decades to come. The way they manage to get the better of their rivals even when they do not play well is something that is hard to believe. Considering what the capital club has done in the past five years, it would certainly be hard to deny that the Champions League is in Madrid’s DNA.
Italian fear factor gradually coming back
The display of Italian teams in the UEFA Champions League this season proves that the fear factor Serie A teams once posed to the rest of Europe is gradually resurfacing. No one can forget what AS Roma did to Chelsea and almighty Barcelona. Ask Liverpool and they will tell you how they narrowly survived the Rome flame. Can anyone forget what Juventus did to Tottenham Hotspur or how they almost did the unbelievable at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in the last eight? The Italians are showing that they cannot be written off just yet. They have showed that the kind of experience Europe witnessed from Italy in the mid-2000s is gradually resurrecting.
PSG not yet ripe for the title
Paris Saint Germain have continued to show that they still have a long way to go to win the elusive UCL title. Despite the acquisition of the World most expensive player, Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, Unain Emery’s side were dusted by Real Madrid in the round of 16 of the competition. They have failed to prove a real challenge for the rest of Europe. They continue to falter year after year and unless they become adults and are able to get the job done against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munchen in the knockout stages, the dream of landing European glory in Paris will remain a huge dream.
Klopp needs to pray harder
Saturday’s final loss to Real Madrid made it the sixth consecutive final Jurgen Klopp has lost as a manager. This hoodoo has continued to be a nightmare for the German manager since 2013 when he lost to Bayern Munchen in the final of the Champions League. After playing scintillatingly en route to the final, his team falter on the most decisive day. With a final triumph proving elusive, he will have to go to the mountain for more prayers.
Wake-up call for the rest of Europe
It is the three straight year that Real Madrid have been crowned champions of Europe, with a resounding win in Kiev sealing the latest title on May 26. The club even squeezed a domestic crisis into their season but still came out unscathed in Europe’s Premier Club Competition. Madrid cannot be blamed for being the dominant force in Europe over the past five years, certainly not them. It is up to the rest of Europe to reach Real’s levels, not hope that they get worse. The rest of Europe have failed to equip themselves with the tools and tactics to take the fight to the Los Blancos and their failings are why the Spanish capital club have excelled above their contemporaries in Europe in the last half-decade and unless the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munchen, Juventus, Manchester United, Manchester City and other top contenders wake up, Real Madrid will continue to remain unstoppable for years to come.