By M. Jezzi
The UEFA Champions League, also known as the UCL, is one of the worlds most competitive and prestigious football competitions. The first signs of this new championship arose in the middle 50s and 60s, however, the initial name for the championship was European Cup. The Champions League was later reinvented in 1992, with the addition of the knockout phase, and clubs from other countries. For the group staging, 32 of the qualifying teams are drawn into eight groups of 4 teams each, and throughout a certain time period, they play against each other twice. The first and second place of each group will advance onto the elimination/knockout phase – the round of 16 – where another random pick of the 16 remaining teams is generated to see who will go on to the next phase. This process goes on until 2 teams are remaining on the so wanted and desired final. The main goal and aspiration for any top club playing in Europe is to win the UCL tournament, however, only a few teams – precisely 22 - have had the chance to do so.
Real Madrid, as many of you may know, has already won 13 individual titles, and for the past 3 years, they are the holding champions of this tournament. With the unforeseen exit of their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, other teams now began to dream again with the chance to reach the finals. As soon as Madrid reached the round of 16, and were picked to play against Ajax, everyone instantly thought that it would be another easy game for them. Fortunately for some clubs, this wasn’t the case. Ajax, out of the 16 remaining teams, was possibly the least favourite one on the tournament. Also known as the underdogs, the Dutch team was extremely young and “immature” compared to the other European Giants. Likely, the whole of Ajax’s roster cost less than various individual players of Real Madrid, but this didn’t prevent them from dreaming big. After 2 exciting games, Ajax managed to come out in front with an aggregate score of 5-3, something that will for sure be remembered forever on the club’s history!
Right as I was writing this article, on the 7th of May to be more specific, I experienced one of the most impressive and remarkable events on the history of the Champions League! About 2 weeks ago, Barcelona won their first game against Liverpool with a score of 3x0! Everyone, including myself, immediately thought the dream was over for Liverpool. However, they had different plans in mind. Last week (on the 7th of May), Liverpool and Barcelona got face to face again for the second leg of the semi-finals. Despite the majority of supporters believe that Barcelona would pass, there was a decrease in the hope of the fans that something magical would occur. However, it did. Liverpool, without its 2 main players (Salah and Firmino), played the game of their lives against Barcelona, and unexpectedly, managed to pull off a 4x0 win, which meant that they would be advancing to the Champions League Finals! By now, you probably already know who will decide the trophy against Liverpool: either Ajax or Spurs.
The beauty of a football game is that anything could happen, and despite there always being a favourite team, it certainly doesn’t mean that they will be winning it at the end of the day. By being one of the most unexpected sports, it provides the fans and supporters with incredible stories and memories, either good or bad. I hope the Grand Finale is as exciting as the Semi-Finals were, and that the best team Wins!