Jamie Clark was Sports Editor of Coral bookmakers between 2014 and 2017 during their merger with Ladbrokes and a key period for the British betting industry. Working as a bookie’s runner on the point to point circuit in the Midlands and at Market Rasen Racecourse where his late godfather had a trackside pitch growing up, he has had ties to horse racing all of his life. While his main project with us is horsebetting.com, Jamie occasionally brings you his take on major news stories from the racing world and those all-important betting tips at betting.co.uk.
Highlights From The Weirdest Champions League So Far
The curtain has finally fallen on the longest and weirdest Champions League ever. Ultimately, it will always be about Bayern Munich’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona. But this year’s Champions League will be memorable for many other reasons. From RB Leipzig, Atalanta and Lyon beating heavyweight teams to Robert Lewandowski’s incredible goalscoring run, it always made for great viewing.
However, it was the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatened the continuation of the tournament. This put a halt to the Champions League round of 16 ties for over four months. When the Champions League returned in early August, it continued the games as single-legged matches.
As such, the restart of the Champions League made for compelling viewing – despite the bizarre absence of fans in the stadiums. No more boring matches where a team would play for a draw. Instead football fans were treated to all teams playing to win. This served up plenty of memorable performances such as Lyon’s surprise 3-1 win over Manchester City and RB Leipzig’s 2-1 defeat of Atletico Madrid.
The success of these single-legged games has led many to speculate that future editions of the Champions League could follow this format. However, as this would lead to a large drop in revenues, it’s hard to imagine that UEFA would seriously consider this option. Plus fans would be unhappy at not being able to attend massive European matches in their own home stadiums.
A German renaissance
It’s fair to say that Bayern Munich dominated this year’s Champions League. The Bavarian team became the first club to win any European trophy with a 100% winning record. It’s easy to focus on that 8-2 thumping of Barcelona. But Bayern were equally impressive with punishing defeats of Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
So what’s behind Bayern’s success? The club has had a rapid return to form since appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach in November 2019. Robert Lewandowski was in dazzling form with 15 Champions League goals. But there was the perfect balance between age and experience in the Bayern team.
From experienced legends like Thomas Muller to rising stars such as Alphonso Davies, Bayern knew how to play together as a team. While Paris Saint Germain provided a test in the final, not even the combined presence of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could break the Bayern defence.
Bayern’s success marked the first time that a German club had won the Champions League since 2013. Plus the rise of RB Leipzig to being real contenders was remarkable. While RB Leipzig suffered a touch of stage fright against PSG in the semi-final, it shows that Bundesliga sides are more than capable of performing well in this tournament.
This is a direct contrast to the fortunes of the La Liga and Premier League teams. Favourites like Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid all suffered surprisingly early exits. This meant that we were left with semi-finals featuring only French and German teams.
Thankfully, a few things stayed consistent. Alongside a typically underwhelming final, both Manchester City and Juventus bottled it and proved that all is well in Champions League football.
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