This year’s UEFA Champions League games awed many Spanish and German football fans, while the games caught many English observers by surprise.
After crunching data of Top 5 European leagues(English Premier League, La Liga Spain, Serie-A Italy, Ligue 1 France, and Bundesliga Germany)as far as the last 10 seasons, the emerging trend is clear and obvious that Spanish and German teams enjoy robust gains in terms of number of their teams among Champions League’s top 16 teams.
In case of Spanish teams, although appearance of giants Barcelona and Real Madrid was expected, emergence of Malaga and Valencia among top guns caught many by surprise. In fact, if we look at the historical chart, it last happened 4 seasons ago when 4 La Liga teams made it to round of 16 of Champions League games. And in the past 10 seasons- as seen in the chart- its the 4th time only that La Liga have 4 representatives in round of 16. The question is how many of the 4 La Liga teams end up in the Final, if at all, this season.
In case of Bundesliga teams, it is truly a success story and a record in making after several years of youth structure, and investment in domestic club teams over the years in Germany. Following set of brilliant records in group stage, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Schalke all qualified as top teams in their group. If we trace back, the last time Bundesliga had 3 teams in round of 16 was back in 2004-2005, and this sets them for 2nd successful Champions League appearance in the past 10 seasons.
Now analyzing the usual dominant player at Champions League games, this season-just like disappointing record of last season- English Premier League only have 2 representatives in Round of 16. Manchester United and Arsenal are two English teams vying for European Final pride, albeit they were both absent from last season’s Final. Defending European Champions, Chelsea, were knocked out earlier in Group stage games following constant instability in the club over managerial position. Manchester City, despite being EPL defending Champion, also failed to live up to its expectations and was eliminated earlier on. In terms of surprising facts, this is only 2nd time happening in Champions League’s recent history that only 2 English teams appear in Round of 16. They usually had 3 or 4 representatives,which as shown in the chart, majority of the time made it to the Final stage as well.
Italy’s Serie-A league as well as their English counterpart, displayed downfall this year by having only 2 representatives in Round of 16. Juventus and AC Milan are the only two Italian teams vying for European honor this season. The last time they had 2 teams only at this stage, was back in 2003-2004 or 9 seasons ago.
In case of France’s Ligue 1, the disappointing trend for the French league continue as they only have Paris Saint-Germain team to brag about in Europe.
From macro perspective though, looking at it quality-wise, or number of times each of these league teams made it to the Final, EPL still hold its supremacy by appearing in 7 Finals in the past 10 seasons; of which, back in 2007-2008 two English teams made it to the Final. Italy’s Serie-A follows suit with 4 appearances in Final, followed closely by Spain’s La Liga with 3 Final stage appearances.
As for the big question of what this trend is telling us about this season’s UEFA Champions league Final, we shall only wait and watch the UEFA’s draw for Quarter Final and Semi Final games. As recent history has proven, it is not necessarily the number of participants each league has, but rather their efficiency and consistency in performing high qualify games to make it to the Final and winning the trophy. As Barcelona team have shown in a one-man show in the past few seasons.
So it could be that EPL and Serie-A leagues only have 2 teams each in knock-out stage this season, but of those 2 teams, one can make it to the Final. Just like example of Chelsea in the least season, as 1 of the 2 EPL teams making it all the way to CL trophy.
However, in terms of probability, Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga, have upper hand to make it far this season. We shall see. I will leave you with statistical charts I made by number crunching Champions League games of the past 10 seasons. Hope you enjoy it and can be useful.