Despite Covid-19, the Champions League final and the Europa League have been played. The final tournaments in Lisbon and North Rhine-Westphalia, however, met with a mixed response. Robby Hunke and Marcus Bark on arguments for and against repeating the new system in one place and in knockout mode.
The Champions League was launched by UEFA for economic reasons. Competition changed football. In short, the rich clubs in Europe are getting richer and richer. And the smaller clubs have less chance. If, for example, FC Bayern have to struggle through two games against clubs like Red Star Belgrade in autumn, the winner is actually already certain. But such games secure the TV money.
But then the corona virus came and paralyzed football – and the officials were forced to rethink. In the end, the money collectors in Nyon were happy that the competition was going on at all. The main thing is to play to the end. Financial damage control.
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But what came out of it is interesting and refreshing. A knockout mode. No more chance of correcting anything in the second leg. Less predictability for the big ones. Suddenly, with Olympique Lyon, a team knocked on the knock in the Champions League semi-finals that would not have been on the threshold of the final after a return leg.
Although the most emotionally important thing is missing with the fans, two essences became apparent that we had missed for a long time in this competition: luck and daily form.
Plus a tournament feeling. I don’t necessarily want to talk about euphoria about these European ghost games, which are mainly produced for television. But after talking to the players, I noticed that they too had a certain “World Cup feeling”.
Sometimes fewer games are more valuable. Didn’t we all feel a certain football saturation before?
Before Covid-19, you could theoretically watch any football game live every day. The virus slowed everything down. Maybe at the right time.
Less is more. At least that’s what I realized after life as we knew it was largely still. Even if that means: less income for the association, for the clubs, for the independent sports journalists and in the end also for the players. But maybe that’s the way that brings us closer to football emotionally. In any case, duels with back and forth legs seem oldschool and somehow 2019 to me.
Let the football come to rest! Video assistant, Nations League, fluffy tournaments, handball rules, something with Europa League 2 – it’s enough with changes that even die-hard football fans often no longer understand.
Therefore, please do not have a knockout mode in just one game from the quarters in the Champions League final and Europa League.
It’s not primarily about preventing change. The far more weighty argument against further reform is the football fan himself, namely the traveler, not the one crouching in front of the television. In NRW and Portugal he is excluded because of the pandemic. Therefore, the format is okay for the exceptional situation. But hopefully the stadiums will be full again next spring and the fans will hopefully be able to travel to their clubs again.
In a tournament in “Corona mode” you would have to hand in vacation at the latest after the round of 16, at least a week, rather more, because who wants to be absent from a possible final? are already horrendous, some venues (see Baku at the final of the Europa League 2019) absurd. The reform would be an imposition for the fans, who have already suffered many setbacks in modern football.
The euphoria about the current mode, which now resonated with Bayern Munich’s CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is also premature. Just because something is liked once does not mean that it is a permanent delight. The attraction would be lost.
Much has not been thought through to the end. Which cities and regions were excluded as venues because they cannot meet the requirements, for example for hotel capacities? When the fans are back, should helicopters circling over a city for a week because the security authorities think that wild hordes are invading?
In addition, to name a sporting aspect, history shows that the magical nights of the European Cup are often lived through in return matches. Liverpool FC’s 4-0 against FC Barcelona after a 3-0 defeat in the first leg is the latest example.
Two teams, one game, a maximum of 120 minutes, maybe a penalty shootout. In the European Cup, this thrill is deliberately only intended for the final. That has also proven itself. Leave it as it is.
There has been enough tinkering with football in the past few years. Also to the detriment of football. A lot has to change in this sport, but certainly not in terms of formats.