The True Value of The “Champions” League

“Ceux sont les meilleurs equips”
“Die Meister, die Besten, les meilleurs equipes, the champions.”

What UEFA has tried to do in the infamous CL anthem played before European nights, during European nights, and even during those new god-awful commercials played during half-time is instill in all viewers the sense that the teams that participate in its glory competition, the UEFA Champions League, are truly “die besten”.

There are 3 different style of teams that make the champions league this year:
1. Big League Champions (Man Utd, Inter, Barcelona)
2. The Runners up (Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus)
3. The Champions of Minor Leagues (Cluj, Donetsk, Zenit)

I know that whatever the CL Anthem says is not a prerequisite to be allowed into the CL, as there are clear rules and regulations into which teams qualify. But when arguing that the CL is a more important and essentially “better” competition than the Premier League or any national league for that matter, most people would say that these are the best teams in the world.

For me, this is where the competition loses its value. For example, Arsenal made it all the way to the semi-finals of this year’s competition, an honor that most clubs would love to achieve. Domestically though, Arsenal were anything but champions. At one point in serious danger of finishing 5th behind a plucky Aston Villa side, Arsenal was in serious trouble. Even though they did manage to rescue their season, the fact remains. Arsenal finished 4th, did not make a domestic cup final, and on their way to becoming one of the top 4 teams in Europe this season by making the semifinals, they beat equally underachieving AS Roma and a good but unspectacular Villarreal.

Next you have the champions of minor leagues, bless their souls. These relatively tiny clubs (compared to the giants Man Utd, Barca, Chelsea, Inter) like Zenit and Shahtar, Basel and Cluj, are far from European super-powers. But they achieved the right to compete in Europe’s premier club competition by winning their respective leagues, and rightly so. These clubs DO deserve a chance to play in the CL, and I have no problem with that.

And finally, there is no disputing the right of the major league winners to participate in the Champions League. These clubs beat out other major sides to be the best in some of the most difficult leagues in the world, and for that obviously deserve to play in a “Champions League”.

As we have seen though, clubs like Chelsea have been able to challenge strongly for the title of European Champion, both in years when we were not champions of England and when we were. Should we have that right, seeing that we are not “champions”?

As a Chelsea fan, I say yes. We have consistently shown for a number of years that despite us not winning the CL title yet, we are one of Europe’s premier teams. But if you take in account staying true to the basic tenets of a “Champions League”, then no, we do not deserve to participate. Just some food for thought. Whatever your opinion is at the end of the day all us Chelsea fans can agree on one thing though, UEFA is a disgrace! A **** disgrace!