After a five-month break amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019/2020 edition of the UEFA Champions League came to a befitting end as Bayern Munich overcame Paris Saint-Germain in a final match held at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. The final pitted the champions of France against the champions of Germany; for PSG, the Champions League is the only silverware that has eluded them since Qatar Sports Investment took over the team. For Bayern Munich, the Champions League is the final piece in their treble puzzle. This piece sums up the highs and lows of the mini-tournament held in Lisbon.
THE AWAY GOALS RULE IS OUTDATED
The mini-tournament meant there were no second leg matches for the quarter-final and semi-final matches of this season’s Champions League. A one-off high stake match devoid of grueling mental sums of away goals and its attendant implications, a match where you have to cancel all goals conceded within 90 minutes. A true knock out fixture in all sense of the word. The one-legged knockout style witnessed this season is a product of circumstances. The competition will revert to the two-legged matches where teams, in addition to giving their all on the pitch, players have to do mental sums about the implication of goals conceded on their home ground next season. In simple terms, the away goals rule is an unnecessary distraction that takes the excitement out of the fixture.
SIMEONE FALLS SHORT AGAIN
Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid fell short in the Champions League yet again. Simeone’s project in the Madrid capital has largely wowed many neutrals; he won the Europa League in his first season in charge. This was followed by a Copa del Rey triumph against city rivals Real Madrid in the 2012/2013 season before taking Atleti to the La Liga title in the 2013/14 season. In the three seasons between 2013/2014 and 2015/2016, Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side played in two of the three Champions League final matches, losing each time to Real Madrid. This season’s mini-tournament was another chance for Simeone to prove his credentials at the grandest stage, having eliminated defending champions, Liverpool in the round of 16. However, they lost to RB Leipzig in the quarter-final in Lisbon, meaning Simeone has to try again next season.
YOU HATE TO SEE IT (pun intended)
Barcelona nay Messi’s obsession with winning the Champions League again came to an abrupt end. This time, there was no element of dues ex machine of a Greek god in Rome or a corner taken quickly; it was a comprehensive mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich. It is what Peter Drury, the famous commentator featured on Konami’s flagship football game, PES, will refer to as ‘Demolition, destruction, annihilation. They simply ran away with it.’ The match ended in an 8-2 win for Bayern, with nine out of the ten goals scored by Bayern Munich since Alaba scored one of Barca’s consolation goals. To make it worse for Barca on the night, Phillipe Coutinho, a Barca player on loan at Bayern, came on to score a brace and provided another assist. Bayern’s eventual triumph means Barcelona has to pay Liverpool an extra 5 million euros for a player who actively contributed to their Champions League demise.