The Champions League semifinals are set and an all-English final remains a real possibility. Once again, Premier League clubs dominate the European game.
There was a time when English clubs were banned from European competition. The year was 1985, and UEFA imposed the five-year ban after hooliganism in the final — won that year by Juventus against Liverpool — resulted in the death of 39 people in Brussels.
English soccer has been vastly transformed over the last few decades. The rise of the Premier League in 1992 and the TV revenue and marketing deals that followed allowed it to become the best domestic competition in the world. It’s not unusual for English clubs to dominate the Champions League and this season is no different.
It remains a very real possibility that we could witness another all-England final after Liverpool defeated Tottenham in the 2019 final. A similar situation took place in 2008 when Manchester United downed Chelsea in a shootout.
This year’s final could feature Manchester City versus Chelsea, a clash of Premier League titans that reveals, once gain, that England’s top flight is the best in the world. The league, which has been able to sign the planet’s best players for nearly two decades, dominates Europe much like Italy’s Serie A did in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Manchester City and Chelsea face legitimate competition in UCL semis
Before there can be an all-English final, Man City and Chelsea will need to get past two very formidable semifinalists in Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, respectively.
The semifinals will be contested over two legs on April 27-28 and May 4-5. The final, which will be played in Istanbul, Turkey, is scheduled for May 29.
Man City’s clash against PSG is a clash of new money between teams that have never won the Champions League. Both clubs have been infused with millions and millions of dollars over the last few years funneled into their coffers from billionaire Middle East oil tycoons .
PSG, runners up last season after losing to Bayern Munich in the final, feature Kylian Mbappe, one of the world’s best players at the moment. They are trying to be just the second French club, after Olympique Marseilles did in 1993, to lift the trophy.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will take on Real Madrid, a 13-time European champion who won three straight from 2016 to 2018 under current manager Zinedine Zidane. The London-based club last won the Champions League in 2012.
Once again, the Champions League semifinals won’t disappoint. After last season’s pandemic-plagued season that resulted in the knockout stage being contested in August, this year’s tournament has not had too many hiccups.
While Manchester City, coached by two-time Champions League winner Pep Guardiola during his time as Barcelona manager, remains favored to win it all , Real Madrid can’t be ruled out for its depth and experience at this level of the competition.
PSG is also a formidable opponent, while Chelsea are a dark horse who have grown in strength after sacking their manager Frank Lampard earlier in the season. Anything can happen at this stage of the competition, but don’t rule out the power of English clubs to dominate Europe’s premier club tournament.